The Mexican Mafia

The following was from an article found on the net written by a former FBI agent:

"The drug lords in Mexico may have been even more successful than the Italian Cosa Nostra or the Russian mafiya. They are taking over the highest echelons of their country's legitimate government. The arrest in March 2000 of the brothers of two of the most prominent politicians in Mexico proves how high the cartels' influence reaches.

When President Ernesto Zedillo, an untested, Yale-educated economist, took office in December of 2000, he promised to fight the drug trade and reshape the judicial system. But how far is he willing to go -- and how far will the cartels and their political henchmen allow him to go? In the past two years, the Mexican drug cartels have apparently murdered several officials who challenged them, including a presidential candidate, the police chief investigating his death, a cardinal, and the number-two leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the governing party. Already, the drug cartels seem to be warning Zedillo off: On March 15, local police officers in Mexico City attempted to carjack his eldest son in broad daylight. But bodyguards travelling in separate cars intervened before shots were fired. And earlier this year, Zedillo's newly appointed federal police chief, who had promised to oust corrupt police officials, was gassed in his sleep and left brain damaged. The drug cartels' stranglehold on Mexican democracy is a parody of a Quentin Tarantino film: Politicians betray politicians, municipal, state, and federal police officials point their guns at each other, and corruption is so deep you can't see bottom.

Former Mexican Federal Deputy Attorney General Eduardo Valle Espinosa resigned his official post in frustration in May of last year, claiming, "Nobody can outline a political project in which the heads of drug trafficking and their financiers are not included. Because if you do, you die." In a March 12 statement to U.S. drug-enforcement authorities, Valle estimated that at least half of Mexico's federal police chiefs and attorney generals receive illegal payoffs from drug dealers. Bribes make police chief posts so lucrative, he said, that some candidates pay $1 to $2 million just to get hired.

What do the drug cartels buy with these bribes? Carte blanche to do as they wish and immunity to walk away from their crimes. A few examples:

On May 24, 1993, assassins connected with the powerful Tijuana cartel killed Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo and six others at the Guadalajara airport. With weapons stashed in carry-on luggage and without boarding passes, the gunmen then boarded a Tijuana-bound Aeromexico plane that had been held for 20 minutes for their arrival. Four state police officers were later accused of acting as the killers' bodyguards. When he campaigned for the presidency, candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio, the handpicked successor of then-President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, was widely regarded as an honest reformer. This probably led drug traffickers and corrupt politicians to fear what he might do if he took office. He was killed at a Tijuana rally in March of last year. A few weeks later, the reformist Tijuana police chief who was investigating the possibility that state police had been involved in Colosio's murder was also assassinated. This March, federal judicial agents tracking members of the Tijuana cartel pulled over a vehicle in the course of their investigation and found local police protecting cartel drug lords. The rain of gunfire that followed killed five. Later, a state police commander sympathetic to the cartel looked the other way as high-ranking arrested kingpins escaped. When President Zedillo took office, he immediately vowed to stop the drug lords. Apparently not trusting anyone in the governing party (his own party), he appointed opposition party member Antonio Lozano Gracia attorney general and reopened the Colosio investigation. 

On February 28 Lozano's investigators arrested Raul Salinas de Gortari, the former president's brother, on charges of having ordered and financed the assassination of Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu (the second-ranking leader of the PRI) last September. Then, still more shocking, on March 3 U.S. officials arrested former Deputy Attorney General Mario Ruiz Massieu, the brother of the slain leader and a former chief investigator in the case. Massieu was arrested in Newark, N.J., fleeing Mexico with a ticket to Madrid, more than $40,000 in cash, and $10 million more stashed in bank accounts. He was charged with obstructing his own investigation into his brother's murder and with collecting bribes from drug traffickers in exchange for protection. After a short-lived attempt at a hunger strike to protest his brother Raul's innocence (and his own), Carlos Salinas has taken refuge in the U.S. Former government officials like Deputy Attorney General Valle are raising questions about the former president's secretary of communications and transportation, Emilio Gamboa Patron, and his minister of agriculture, billionaire Carlos Hank Gonzalez, whose son is widely reputed to have ties to the Tijuana drug cartel. The remaining questions are: Will President Ernesto Zedillo follow Salinas' path, publicly condemning the drug cartels but turning a blind eye to their allies in his own Cabinet? Or will he at the risk of his own life pursue his investigations even if they lead to the highest levels of government? As of this writing, it's too early to tell, but with events in Mexico shifting daily, the answer may not be long in coming."



The Mexican Mafia got its start in 1957 in the prisons of California. Mexican criminals, fearing for their safety, banded together for mutual protection. Gradually their group became more and more powerful in the prison system, controlling the flow of illegal weapons and drugs to prisoners. They began to call themselves the Mexican Mafia out of admiration for La Cosa Nostra. Eventually as members got out of prison and continued their illegal activities the group developed a presence on the outside. Soon they had formed alliances with criminal groups in Mexico which helped with their primary trade, the smuggling and sale of drugs. They are still a powerful force in many prisons as well and recruit most of their members from there. Potential members must be sponsored by an existing member and voted on by the rest of the gang in that prison. The members are required to kill on command without hesitation with this capacity for extreme violence being carried over to activities in the outside world. In the prisons they compete with another Hispanic gang, La Nuestra Familia. Ironically the Mexican Mafia's ally is the Aryan Brotherhood which has links to outlaw motorcycle gangs. La Nuestra Familia on the other hand is allied with the Black Guerilla Family, a Maoist oriented gang for blacks.

Today's Mexican Drug Cartels

Once they were merely known as "mules" for Colombia's powerful cocaine cartels. Today, Mexico's narcotics traffickers have grown into drug lords in their own right, and the front line of the drug war has shifted from the Andean jungles to America's front door. Mexican gangs run their own distribution networks in the United States, and they produce most of the methamphetamine used north of the border. They have even bypassed the Colombians several times to buy cocaine directly from producers in Bolivia and Peru.

Thomas Constantine, director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, told a congressional committee this year: "These sophisticated drug syndicate groups from Mexico have eclipsed organized crime groups from Colombia as the premier law enforcement threat facing the United States today." Because of the power shift, drug related violence and corruption regularly spills over the U.S. Mexico border, threatening historically sensitive bilateral relations.

Errol Chavez, DEA special agent-in-charge in San Diego, said, "They still haven't reached the sophistication of the Colombian networks of old. But unless we stop this new threat, we are going to have a big problem next door." Mexico's drug gangs have tainted high government posts in a developing nation of some 93 million people that has recently teetered on the edge of political and economic crisis. American lawmakers cited that corruption in an unsuccessful fight to block certification of Mexico as a cooperating partner in anti-narcotics efforts.

U.S. intelligence analysts say that from heavily guarded homes south of the border, the Mexican kingpins use pagers, encrypted phones and fax machines to operate new distribution networks in America's heartland. Documents filed in a federal trial this year in Miami against four alleged managers of the Cali cocaine cartel and two of its lawyers map the growth of the Mexicans' role in the drug trade. An affidavit says the Colombians shifted their routes from the Caribbean and Florida to Mexico after the cartel's top representative in Miami was arrested in 1992. It says the Cali cartel worked out a deal to use Mexico's Juarez cartel as a middleman for smuggling cocaine into the United States. The Mexican cartels do, at times, work together perhaps to lesser extent now. There is evidence that the gangs employed corrupt officials to attack their rivals. Fifteen people with suspected drug ties disappeared in January in Juarez. Witnesses said the kidnappers had "INCD" on their black uniforms the Spanish acronym for the now-defunct federal anti-drug agency.

Many of the traffickers still work together on big shipments, taking advantage of the porous 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border and increased commercial traffic under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to ship hundreds of tons into the United States every year. U.S. drug officials say up to 70 percent of cocaine entering the U.S. comes through Mexico. U.S. officials can search only about one of every ten vehicles crossing the border and just a fraction of cargo containers.

In the United States, the Mexicans are beginning to muscle in in the Colombians' East Coast strongholds. They have also had their own long-time distribution networks in the West and the Midwest. The Mexican cartels move toward independence began several years ago when the Colombians began paying Mexican gang leader Juan Garcia Abrego with cocaine to smuggle loads of the drug for them. Convicted in Texas of trafficking and money laundering, he is now serving 11 life prison terms. Other Mexican traffickers are now routinely paid with cocaine, which they distribute in the United States and in Mexico. They also produce and market their own marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine.

U.S. intelligence analysts say that now deceased Mexican drug kingpin Amado Carrillo Fuentes bypassed the Colombians several times to buy cocaine from producers in Bolivia and Peru. While the Mexicans will never match the Colombians' ability to produce cocaine, they can now compete for overall profits. Phil Jordan, a former DEA agent and retired director of the El Paso Intelligence Centre (EPIC), said: "To some degree, the Mexicans will always need the Colombians to monopolize the cocaine market. But profit-wise, they could totally eliminate the Colombian connection without suffering too much."


In America there is a general who is in overall control, with several godfathers as underlings. These men control lower rank members known in descending order of importance as captains, lieutenants, and soldados/soldiers. In Mexico the mafia is an extended family whose leaders are related by blood and marriage. There are estimated to be up to 25 families of anywhere up to 3000 members each and like other mafias often battle with each other.


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