Crime and Violence

Beltrán Leyva Organization leader, “El H,” arrested in Guanajuato

BLO Leader Héctor Beltrán Leyva, "El H." Photo: El Mañana, SUN.
BLO Leader Héctor Beltrán Leyva, “El H.” Photo: El Mañana, SUN.

10/14/14 — Mexico’s Secretary of National Defense (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, SEDENA) confirmed the arrest of the presumed leader of the Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO), Héctor Beltrán Leyva, following DNA tests to prove his identity. Beltrán Leyva, also known as “El H,” was detained on October 1 at a restaurant in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, along with BLO financial operator Germán Goyeneche Ortega. Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) led the operation—an operation also known has Hotel—, which was an 11-month intelligence gathering effort supported by Mexico’s Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas), Federal Police (Policía Federal, PF) and the Center of Investigation and National Security (Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional, CISEN). No shots were fired during the arrest.

El H became the leader of the Beltrán Leyva Organization in 2009 when his brother Arturo Beltrán Leyva, “El Barbas,” then-leader of the BLO, was killed by the Mexican Navy (Secretaría de Marina, SEMAR) in Cuernavaca, Morelos. His position as leader was reaffirmed following the Federal Police’s arrest of BLO’s second-in-command, Arnoldo Villa Sánchez, also known as René Calderón Sánchez, in April 2014 in Mexico City. El H has largely kept a low profile in the years since taking control, while continuing to maintain a BLO presence in at least a dozen Mexican states where the cartel allegedly operates. He faces charges of drug trafficking (specifically cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine), illicit ties to criminal organizations, and money laundering. El H’s reach also extended far outside of Mexico, notes the Attorney General’s Office, as he trafficked from Central and South America to the United States and Europe. News of El H’s arrest was thus well received among security officials, as both the U.S. and Mexican governments had had a reward out for information leading to his whereabouts set at $5 million (USD) and $2.23 million (USD), respectively. President Enrique Peña Nieto also applauded the collaborative work done by the PGR, Armed Forces, Federal Police, and CISEN to bring down El H on his official Twitter account.

El H’s arrest came just one week before Juárez Cartel leader Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, “El Viceroy,” was detained on October 9. Just one month prior to El H’s and El Viceroy’s arrests, reports emerged that representatives from the Beltrán Leyva Organization and Juárez Cartel had participated in a meeting in June 2014 along with representatives from Los Zetas and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, CJNG). Held in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, the meeting was potentially the beginning of a “cartel of cartels” alliance forming, as these four organized crime groups (OCGs) are likely collaborating to strengthen their efforts following several years of being the target of continued government pressure.

El H has since been passed to Mexico’s Office of Special Investigations on Organized Crime (Subprocuraduría Especializada en Investigación de Delincuencia Organizada, SIEDO) for holding while his case unfolds.


“Second in command of Beltrán Leyva Organization arrested in Mexico City.” Justice in Mexico. April 17, 2014.

“Reports indicate that four OCGs are forming a ‘cartel of cartels’ alliance.” Justice in Mexico. September 7, 2014.

“Detención de ‘El H’, esfuerzo conjunto de fuerzas armadas: Peña.” MIlenio. October 1, 2014.

Méndez, Alfredo. “Apresan en Guanajuato a Héctor Beltrán Leyva, ‘El H.’” La Jornada. October 1, 2014.

Redacción. “PGR confirma detención de Héctor Beltrán Leyva.” El Economista. October 1, 2014.

“’El Viceroy,’ leader of the Juárez Cartel, arrested in Coahuila.” Justice in Mexico. October 11, 2014.

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