09/04/12 – The Mexican Navy (Secretaría de Marina Armada de México, SEMAR) captured Mario Cárdenas Guillén, “M-1,” the alleged leader of the Gulf Cartel (Cártel del Golfo, CDG), after a special operation in Altamira, Tamaulipas, on September 3. Cárdenas was found in possession of fire arms, 30 cartridges, two grenades, 129,000 Mexican pesos, communications equipment, a car, and four packages of cocaine, all of which were sized by Navy personnel and handed over, along with Cárdenas himself, to prosecutors at the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) in Mexico City. On September 4, SEMAR and PGR presented Cárdenas at the facilities of the PGR’s Office of Special Investigations into Organized Crime (Subprocuraduría de Investigación Especializada en Delincuencia Organizada, SIEDO).
The alleged drug trafficker, also known as “El Gordo,” is part of the “historic leadership” of the CDG, started by his brother Osiel, who led the organization until his capture by Mexican military in 2003 and subsequent extradition to the United States in 2005, where he now remains serving a 25-year prison sentence. According to Terra, the brother of Mario and Osiel, Antonio Ezequiel “Tony Tormenta,” took over after Osiel’s capture, and led the organization until his death in 2010, when he was shot by Mexican soldiers. In the meantime, Mario had been in prison for previous charges of drug trafficking from 1995 to 2007, being held at a prison in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, and then transferred to the Puente Grande Federal Prison 2 in Jalisco where it was believed he helped his brothers on the outside run the CDG. He teamed up with brother Tony Tormenta after his release.
The CDG was originally founded by Juan Nepomuceno Guerra in the 1970s, and later led by Juan García Ábrego, who was arrested in 1996 and extradited to the United States, at which point Osiel took control of cartel. Nearly 15 years later, following Tony Tormenta’s death in 2010, the organization divided into two factions–one led by Jorge Eduardo Costilla, “El Coss,” and the other by Mario, whose group, better known as “Los Rojos,” was in charge of executing rival cartel members and recovering the CDG’s lost territory. The CDG is currently battling the Zetas in northeastern Mexico for control and trafficking routes, which is especially interesting to note given the history between the two cartels. Osiel originally created the Zetas by recruiting members of the Mexican Army’s elite special forces to defect and essentially become a group of hit men for the Gulf Cartel. The Zetas split from the CDG after Osiel’s arrest and extradition, and now both cartels maintain an open fight in several states. According to a number of sources, the Zetas have significantly diminished the power of the CDG.