Crime and Violence

Alleged Beltrán Leyva Organization leaders among those killed in operation

 02/23/17 (written by Daphne Blanchard) – The alleged leader of the Betrán Leyva Organization (BLO) in Nayarit, Juan Francisco Patrón Sánchez, “El H2,” was killed in a clash with Mexican military forces on February 9 in Nayarit. The day after, the alleged second in command of the BLO in Nayarit, Francisco Daniel or Daniel Isaac Silva Gárate, “El H9” or “El Señor de las Tanquetas,” was also killed in a subsequent battle. Between the two days, 15 suspected Beltrán Leyva cartel members were killed, including the two leaders. Nayarit Governor Roberto Sandoval Castañeda confirmed the incident at a press conference. He was accompanied by the head of the Mexican Army (Ejército Mexicano), Navy (Secretaría de Marina, SEMAR), Center for Research and National Security (Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional, CISEN), federal Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR), and Nayarit State Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado, PGJE).
Head shot of Juan Francisco Patrón Sánchez
Juan Francisco Patrón Sánchez, H2. Photo: Milenio.

The joint operation between the federal, state, and municipal forces took place in Tepic, Nayarit. It came after months of intelligence gathering and close monitoring of an alleged Beltrán Leyva safe house in the town of Pantanal in the Xalisco municipality. According to a Mexican Navy official quoted in Proceso, federal forces began shooting after Patrón, who was armed with high-powered weapons, resisted arrest. A military helicopter then proceeded to open fire on the residence in which Patrón was hiding, resulting in the leader’s death and that of his accomplices. The Naval officer called the air support “dissuasive fire,” explaining that the helicopter’s firing power was used in accordance with its rules of engagement, “with the aim of reducing the level of aggression and reducing the risk of civilian or federal casualties.” No federal officials, members of the military or civilians were harmed during the operation

The following day, another alleged Beltrán Levya leader, Silva Gárate, was confronted in the community of El Ahuacate, also in Tepic, Nayarit. According to an anonymous source in the Mexican Navy who confirmed Silva’s shooting, members of the military intercepted the leader’s vehicle, as he fled the coordinated operation involving the Navy and Nayarit State and Tepic Municipal police. Gunfire ensued, resulting in Silva’s death and that of three of his cartel companions.

The loss of Patrón and Silva deals a significant blow to the Beltrán Leyva organization. The BLO is reportedly active in the northern state of Sinaloa and the southern state of Guerrero. Patrón had been allegedly leading the cartel since 2014 following the arrest of Héctor Beltrán Leyva and the death of Arturo Beltrán Leyva, previous BLO leaders. As chronicled by El Universal, Patrón then assumed control of the cartel alongside Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, “El Chapo Isidro,” though the latter was arrested the year later and subsequently extradited to the United States. For his part, Silva was the presumed lieutenant of the Beltrán Leyva territory in Nayarit under Patrón’s command.

The two-day operation against the BLO was carried out as part of the ongoing effort among the federal government, state governments, and municipalities in Mexico against organized crime. That it occurred in Nayarit is of particular interest, though, because that state had maintained one of the lowest levels of violent crime in the country. According to data from Mexico’s National System of Public Security (Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública, SNSP) reported in El Universal, Nayarit has seen the number of intentional homicides committed each year decline steadily from its peak in 2011 with 710 such cases to 83 in 2016


“Confirma Semar 12 miembros del cártel de los Beltrán Leyva abatidos en Nayarit; el “El H2”, entre ellos.” Proceso. February 10, 2017.

Méndez, Karla. “Abaten en Tepic a ‘El H2’, líder del Cártel de los Beltrán Leyva.” Excélsior. February 10, 2017.

Méndez, Karla. “Tras hechos violentos; instalan retenes en Tepic, Nayarit.” Excélsior. February 10, 2017.

“Mexican marines use helicopter gunship to kill alleged cartel leader and members.” The Guardian. February 10, 2017.

Navarro, Myriam. “Asciende a 15 cifra de muertos por balacera en Nayarit.” La Jornada. February 10, 2017.

Méndez, Karla. “Ponen retenes en Tepic; confirman 15 muertos.” Excélsior. February 11, 2017.

Garduño, Javier. “Dectectan células de los Beltrán en siete entidades.” El Universal. February 12, 2017.

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