09/07/14 — New reports have emerged indicating the start of possible alliance growing among several of Mexico’s top organized crime groups (OCGs). According to information gathered from official U.S. and Mexican intelligence sources, media outlet Reforma reported on a meeting that occurred in June 2014 in Piedras Negras, Coahuila between the leaders of Los Zetas, the Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO), the Juárez Cartel (also known as Los Carrillo Fuentes), and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, CJNG). Those in attendance included Omar Oscar Treviño Morales, “Z-42,” a leader of Los Zetas; a Zetas representative identified in reports only as “Z-43;” Fausto Isidro Meza, “El Chapo Isidro,” who stood in for BLO leader Héctor Beltrán Leyva, “El H”; Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, “El Viceroy,” head of the Juárez Cartel; and Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, “El Mencho,” leader of the CJNG.
Reports speculate that the OGCs are collaborating as a result of several years of being the target of continued government pressure. These groups, as well as other prominent Mexican cartels, have arguably been weakened by the government’s takedown of cartel leadership, along with continued blows to mid- and lower-level command. In 2014 alone, for example, eight of the 14 top organized-crime targets identified in the ongoing Tamaulipas Security Strategy have been arrested, including three regional leaders from Los Zetas—one of whom, Mario Alberto Arce Moreno, was detained on August 31—and a regional leader from the Gulf Cartel (Cartel del Golfo, CDG). Within just the first four months of the year, the government arrested Mexico’s most wanted man, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera of the Sinaloa Cartel; arrested the Beltrán Leyva Organization’s second-in-command, Arnoldo Villa Sánchez; and arrested or killed three of the four leaders of the Knights Templar Organization (Caballeros Templarios, KTO), leaving only Servando “La Tuta” Gómez Martínez in command of the KTO.
Nevertheless, the four OCGs in attendance—Los Zetas, BLO, Juárez Cartel, and CNJG—are still very much in operation, and maintain a noticeable presence in Mexico. Between these groups, they operate in almost two-thirds of Mexico’s 31 states and Federal District (Distrito Federal, DF). They also cover a variety of different illicit activities, with each cartel allegedly specializing in certain areas. For example, explains Reforma, Los Zetas focus more on extortion, kidnapping, and low-level drug trafficking, while the Jalisco New Generation Cartel works more with producing and distributing synthetic drugs. The Beltrán Leyva Organization and Juárez Cartel, meanwhile, both tend to focus on trafficking large-scale quantities of cocaine.
Regardless if the OCGs have indeed been weakened in recent years, if the “cartel of cartels,” as it has been called, continues to unify, “it will reconfigure the whole drug trafficking map in Mexico,” predicts Reforma.