10/06/11 — In one of President Calderón’s administration’s most notable days in its fight against drug trafficking and cartels, on Wednesday October 5, Mexican federal police and the army arrested two major leaders of the Sinaloa and La Familia Michoacana cartels.
In a severe blow to the Sinaloa cartel, the Mexican Army has captured a man many consider to be Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s second in command, Guzmán being the most wanted drug lord in Mexico. Army officials succeeded in capturing Noel Salgueiro, “El Flaco”, who was the chief lieutenant of the Sinaloa cartel, which is Mexico’s most powerful drug cartel. Salguerio controlled many armed gangs and is responsible for kidnappings, extortion, torture and murders in the “murder capital” of Ciudad Juárez and state-wide in Chihuahua. Salgueiro orchestrated the cartel’s trafficking arm and led the group “New People”, which publicly warred with the Juárez cartel for trafficking routes. Salgueiro was captured in a strategic non-violent military operation in Culiacán on Tuesday.
The Secretary of Public Security (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública) of Ciudad Juárez, Julian Leyzaola, acknowledged that public security forces in the city are on high alert following the arrest in order to minimize retaliation against police and other criminal groups. “We hope with the coordination of the three levels of government, federal, state and municipality, to restore peace in this city,” said Leyzaola. Ciudad Juárez Mayor, Hector Murguia Lardizabal Teto expressed his confidence in President Calderón’s support in increasing police forces to secure Ciudad Juárez.
The heavy fighting between the Sinaloa Cartel and Juárez cartel is blamed for over 3,000 killings in Ciudad Juárez in 2010 alone. According to authorities, the violence and drug trafficking arm of the Sinaloa cartel has extended into the United States. BBC reported that the Sinaloa cartel is estimated to be exporting up to fifteen tons of marijuana and two tons of cocaine per month across its northern border.
Also reported on October 5, Mexican federal police captured the founder of La Familia Michoacana cartel, Martin Rosales Magana, also known as “The Terry”, in Tejupilco after a long-standing investigation. Federal police attribute the successful capture as a result of the June 21, 2011, arrest and subsequent intelligence gathered from José de Jesús Méndez, “El Chango,” a former leader of La Familia. Federal police officer Eduardo Ramon Small stated that Rosales was preparing La Familia to reorganize a public attack on the Zeta cartel. Small maintained that Rosales sold up to two tons of marijuana a month and oversaw all synthetic narcotics operations.
Until the beginning of 2011, La Familia controlled the methamphetamine trade in Mexico and was notorious for gruesome public displays of retaliation. This reign was extinguished when its splinter group, Knights Templar, seized the methamphetamine labs in the south and western regions of Mexico. At the time of Rosales’s arrest, remaining cells of the cartel were forging an alliance with the Zeta cartel in an attempt to continue methamphetamine production. The Office of Special Investigations on Organized Crime (Subprocuraduría de Investigación Especializada en Delincuencia, SIEDO) is overseeing the case. Federal prosecutors acknowledged that the arrest may put an end to the already struggling La Familia cartel, but that other leaders of La Familia could emerge. They also acknowledged that the total number of members and sub-groups of the cartel are unknown in the vulnerable bordering areas of Guerrero, Michoacán, and Morelos.