2/8/16 (written by elefavour) – On Saturday, January 30, 2016, Mexican Army officials and Federal Police captured the current leader of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel in his home in northwest Mexico. According to Fox News, The Director of National Security Commission, Renato Sales, reported that Francisco Javier Hernández García was arrested in the state of Sinaloa, in the town of Guasave. Additionally, Francisco Javier Martínez Coronado, a suspected associate leader of Beltrán Leyva was also arrested. CNN Expansion reports that Hernández García was 47 years old and served as an escort to the Beltrán Leyva brothers in the 1990s.
According to Octavio Rodríguez in “De Casus Belli: Violencia y Delincuencia Organizada en México,” the Cártel de los Beltrán Leyva (CBL) was founded in 2008 by Beltrán Leyva brothers Arturo (“El Barbas”), Carlos, Alfredo, and Héctor as a splinter of Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking organization, the Sinaloa Cartel. The cartel works primarily within the cocaine, heroin, and marijuana industries. In May 2008, CBL allegedly ordered the assassination of Edgar Guzmán López, the son of the infamous El Chapo Guzmán. This attack increased tension between the organizations—especially in Pacific coastal regions and central Mexico.
The cartel’s primary founder, Arturo Beltrán Leyva, was killed in a shootout with Marines at his luxury condominium in Cuernavaca, Morelos on December 16, 2009, reports Alianza. As a result, CBL then suffered from internal splintering. One of the factions was lead by Arturo’s brother, Héctor Beltrán Leyva, until his arrest in October of 2014 (Rodríguez Ferreira). Following Héctor’s arrest, Francisco Javier Hernández García allegedly took command of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel until his arrest Saturday.
Prior to Javier Hernández García’s arrest, Beltrán Leyva also had a significant presence in the media in 2014. The cartel’s potential is exemplified through the potential connection of the cartel to the 43 students that went missing in Guerrero in September, 2014, according to CNN Expansion. Allegedly, Los Guerreros Unidos (Warriors United), is an affiliate of Beltrán Leyva responsible for the kidknappings.
During a press conference with Renato Sales, El Milenio reports Hernández García was investigated by the Attorney General of Mexico (Procuraduría General de la República) starting in 2005. This investigation began after the disappearance of journalist Alfredo Jiménez Mota in April of 2005. Additionally, El Milenio reports agencies such as the United States Department of Treasury notate a re-establishment period for the cartel and its expansion in the Sinaloa region. Beltrán Leyva has shifted loyalties from Sinaloa to Los Zetas and is forging strong alliances (Rodríguez Ferreira). Regardless, Fox News notes that the arrest of Hernández García marks the 99th capture of a list of the 122 Most Wanted Criminals in Mexico, and his arrest signals a triumph for the federal forces in Mexico and a possible weakening of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel.
Despite the recent loss of leadership, Beltrán Leyva is reconstructing itself and benefiting from the strength of Los Zetas. In the annual publication, “Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2014,” Justice in Mexico reported that as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto continues the efforts of previous administrations to prioritize arrests of major organized crime leaders, these arrests have not necessarily yielded increased violence. While the destruction of cartel leadership typically results in infighting, splintering, and conflict with rival organizations, the recent trend is that the arrests have not resulted in increased violence. Justice in Mexico speculates that this is in part due to the decreased size of drug trafficking organizations, reduced competition over production, and the potential success of policy makers and the government to advocate for a ceasefire. Additionally, Justice in Mexico reports that Sinaloa, the region where Beltrán Levya is headquartered, experienced a significant 18.4% decrease in total homicides from 2013 to 2014. However, Sinaloa remains a region with very high overall amounts of homicides related to organized crime (747 in 2014). According to El Milenio, the Beltrán Leyva Cartel is experiencing reduced size, reduced competition, and will weaken with the recent loss in leadership.
Rodríguez Ferreira, Octavio. “De Casus Belli: Violencia y Delincuencia Organizada en México.” In Mercados Ilegales y Violencia Armada: Los Vínculos Entre La Criminalidad Organizada y La Conflictividad Internacional, edited by Josep Ibáñez Muñoz and Constanza Sánchez Avilés, 73-105. Madrid: Editorial Tecnos. 2015.