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From A Cake To A Corrido: The Most Absurd Details For Which Great Drug Lords Fell

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“Sol Prendido” for Borderland Beat

Despite his ability to slip through military operations and intelligence work, small oversights landed leaders and lieutenants of criminal organizations in prison.

The most absurd details for which ‘narcos’ were arrested in Mexico

The work that the Government of Mexico has undertaken over decades to pacify the country has led major leaders of criminal organizations to face their fate in prison or, in some cases, their extradition to the United States.

The success stories have become “medals” that various administrations have attributed to themselves because, in their desire to avoid justice, the leaders of large drug trafficking networks have resorted to multiple practices to hide, evading operations or violently confronting elements of the security forces.

Despite their attempts to keep a low profile, some criminal leaders or dangerous lieutenants made mistakes that, although they sound absurd, gave the authorities the clues they needed to find their whereabouts and apprehend them.

Little by little, those characters who at the time topped the lists of the most wanted fugitives by both Mexican and American authorities faced their inevitable fate, leaving in their wake a series of episodes that could easily have been part of a fictitious film.

The quesadillas of ‘El Chori’

Judge says the arrest of La Unión Tepito leader ‘El Chori’ is legal

​On the afternoon of Monday, March 18, a police mobilization south of Mexico City heralded one of the most severe blows that the Unión Tepito has received in recent years.

It was in the streets of the Tlalpan neighborhood that personnel from the Secretariat of Citizen Security (SSC) managed to arrest Eduardo Martínez Tiburcio, who was identified as one of the main leaders of the criminal organization that is besieging Mexico City and the Metropolitan Area.

In a press conference, the capital’s security secretary, Pablo Vázquez, explained that the arrest warrant for El Chori – as he is also known – was completed after months of intelligence work carried out by the agents.

In the proceedings, the agents managed to follow the tracks of Eduardo Martínez Tiburcio and his family in different neighborhoods of the municipalities of Iztapalapa, Venustiano Carranza, Cuauhtémoc, Gustavo A. Madero and the municipality of Naucalpan de Juárez in the State of Mexico, where the house is located where they were hiding.

Although El Chori changed his physical appearance and had bodyguards, the strategy of the capital authorities was to follow up on his wife Emily Getzeman and the vehicle in which they usually traveled: a white Jeep truck.

That late night, Eduardo Martínez Tiburcio, his wife and his son were preparing to eat quesadillas in the Lomas de Padierna neighborhood, a plan that seemed common for anyone but not for the man most wanted by the authorities in the City of Mexico.

In an strong operation, SSC agents managed to deploy an operation that culminated in the high-profile arrest of El Chori, whose criminal career took him to a cell in the North Prison, from where he now hopes to face his respective legal process.

The ‘La Kena’ shopping day

La Kena, the alleged leader of the Gulf Cartel, is linked to preventive detention for the crime of kidnapping

Throughout its history, Tamaulipas has been the epicenter of multiple violent episodes as it is considered a territory of dispute over its border area with the United States.

The geographical position of the state gave rise to the emergence of the Gulf Cartel, an old and bloodthirsty criminal organization whose remnants and divisions continue to sow terror in each of the municipalities that make up the state.

One of them was the kidnapping of four US citizens that occurred in March 2023, which not only unleashed a diplomatic crisis between both countries, but also consolidated José Alberto García Vilano as a priority objective for the authorities.

Better known as La Kena, the criminal leader headed the Los Escorpiones faction in Matamoros, a region that various criminal groups have sought to control through its border crossings.

There was little information about García Vilano, however, it was his ostentatious tastes that tempted him to come out of hiding. He never imagined that that day he would not return to his house, but would spend the next months and years of his life in a cell.

Although the Tamaulipas Attorney General’s Office offered a reward of 2.5 million pesos for information about his whereabouts, La Kena was not apprehended during any of the meticulous and warlike military operations with which they had previously attempted to capture him.

‘La Kena’ was captured along with other accomplices in a shopping center in San Pedro

On the contrary, the leader of Los Escorpiones was detained inside an exclusive shopping center located in San Pedro Garza García, Nuevo León, while he was shopping.

The “real governor of Tamaulipas”, as he was commonly nicknamed, was identified thanks to facial recognition technology, a detail that mobilized authorities from the three levels of government and, for which, he is also facing his legal process from a maximum security prison.

The run of ‘El Nini’

Néstor Isidro Pérez Salas was arrested during an operation in Sinaloa. 

“Ambition is not a good advisor,” Ismael El Mayo Zambada often says, according to a military source consulted by journalist Óscar Balderas for Milenio.

That saying from the co-founder of the Sinaloa Cartel resonated among the members of his criminal organization and public opinion after Néstor Isidro Pérez Salas, a ruthless lieutenant who until then worked for Los Chapitos, was apprehended in November 2023.

Better known as El Nini, the collaborator of Joaquín Guzmán Loera’s children rose to national fame not only when he was identified as a key piece within his international fentanyl trafficking network, but also for his excesses, luxuries and alleged links with one of the most famous corridos tumbados singers of the time: Peso Pluma.

After the United States “declared war” against Los Chapitos and their lucrative business, keeping El Nini in its ranks posed a great risk not only for the criminal organization, but also for the brothers Iván Archivaldo and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar.

And, after the arrest and extradition of Ovidio Guzmán López, El Chapo’s children chose to keep a low profile and stop – as far as possible – the production and distribution of the powerful synthetic opioid that has left more than one hundred thousand deaths. due to overdose in the country of the stars and stripes.

The instruction was clear, but El Nini did not comply with it. According to information obtained by journalist Óscar Balderas, Néstor Isidro Pérez Salas continued to lead a striking and ostentatious lifestyle and even ordered for a corrido to be composed by the popular group Los Tucanes de Tijuana.

The United States insists on extradition of ‘El Nini’

The day the song premiered, an intense operation broke out in Culiacán and El Nini was apprehended in his underwear on the roof of a house without any member of the Los Chapitos organization firing a single bullet to stop his arrest.

That run and his ambitions were key for the authorities to be able to detain him in the Altiplano prison, from where he fights an arduous legal battle to avoid his extradition to the United States.

The ‘La Tuta’ cake

Servando Gómez Martínez, ‘La Tuta’, is being held in the Altiplano prison. 

The year was 2015 and Joaquín Guzmán Loera – who was considered for decades the most famous and dangerous drug trafficker in Mexico – was being held in the Altiplano prison after having been arrested a year earlier in Mazatlán, Sinaloa.

With the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel in prison, the position of “The Most Wanted” by the authorities was assumed by Servando Gómez Martínez, a former teacher from Michoacán who formed various self-defense groups and who went from being part of the Familia Michoacana to founding his own cartel: The Knights Templar.

With high-caliber weapons and social legitimation through religion, La Tuta – as he was also known – managed to weave a meticulous network of synthetic drug trafficking that not only left him millionaire profits but also unleashed a wave of violence in the state.

His criminal career caused the authorities to put their eyes on him, to the point of closely following his elusive movements through rural areas of Michoacán. Little by little, the agents discovered that his intermediaries used to go to a house located in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Morelia.

According to a reconstruction of the proceedings carried out by Óscar Balderas, the property located at number 49 Fidencio Juárez Street was monitored for months until he arrived on February 6, 2015.

Intelligence agents who had access to La Tuta’s file knew that the criminal leader’s birthday was that day, so they waited until they found any type of movement that would confirm his presence in that house.

Arrest of Servando Gómez Martínes, alias La Tuta

Hours later, those close to the criminal leader entered the property with a chocolate cake that was unofficially presumed to have the legend “Congratulations, Professor”, a detail that revealed the location of the most wanted drug trafficker of the moment and for which they managed to collect sufficient elements to execute a search warrant and apprehend Servando Gómez Martínez.

To this day, La Tuta is held in a prison for that chocolate cake, while Michoacán continues to suffer the ravages of his time in the country’s underworld.



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