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Mexican cartel violence in Houston

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  • ml1209

    Active Member
    Rating - 100%
    4   0   0
    Jan 14, 2009
    All you really have to read is the headline.

    Mexican gang activity seeping into Houston | Front page | - Houston Chronicle

    Mexican cartels infiltrate Houston

    The order was clear: Kill the guy in the Astros jersey.
    But in a case of mistaken identity, Jose Perez ended up dead. The intended target — the Houston-based head of a Mexican drug cartel cell pumping millions of dollars of cocaine into the city — walked away.
    Perez, 27, was just a working guy, out getting dinner late on a Friday with his wife and young children at Chilos, a seafood restaurant on the Gulf Freeway.
    His murder and the assassination gone awry point to the perilous presence of Mexican organized crime and how cartel violence has seeped into the city.
    Arrests came in December when police and federal agents got a break in the 2006 shooting as they charted the relationship and rivalries between at least five cartel cells operating in Houston. A rogue’s gallery of about 100 names and mug shots taken at Texas jails and morgues offers a blueprint for Mexican organized crime.
    Houston has long been a major staging ground for importing illegal drugs from Mexico and shipping them to the rest of the United States, but a recent Department of Justice report notes it is one of 230 cities where cartels maintain distribution networks and supply lines.
    At Chilos, the real crime boss was sitting at another table, as were two spotters. The hitman waited in the parking lot for Perez to leave the restaurant.
    “I just remember that guy coming up to us and he started shooting and shooting and shooting and never stopped,” said Norma Gonzalez, Perez’s widow. He was hit twice.
    “I know they will pay for what they have done, maybe in the next life,” she said of Perez’s killers. “I don’t know what is going to happen to them in this life.”

    Problem ‘far-reaching’

    The gangster — captured on surveillance video — blended in with other customers as they gawked at the aftermath. A few months later, he was dead too, gunned down two miles from the restaurant.
    “It is here and it has been here, but people don’t want to listen,” Rick Moreno, a Houston police homicide investigator working with the Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI, said of the cartels’ presence in Houston. "It is so far-reaching>"
    Washington is taking notice, even if the toll on U.S. streets is nowhere near as pervasive as in Mexico, where cartels are locked in a war against one another and with the government.
    “International drug trafficking organizations pose a sustained, serious threat to the safety and security of our communities,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said. “We can provide our communities the safety and the security that they deserve only by confronting these dangerous cartels head-on without reservation,” he said.
    When it comes to tearing into the cartels in Houston, an investigation later code-named Operation Three Stars got quietly under way three years ago, as an undercover DEA agent stood in line at a McDonald’s in north Houston. He listened to a drug trafficker using a two-way radio to set up delivery of $750,000; the man was with his wife and kids, ordering Happy Meals while making the deal.

    Shifting alliances

    Since then, more than 70 people in Houston have been prosecuted as a result of the ongoing operation and more than $5 million has been seized, as well as about 3,000 pounds of cocaine, according to court documents and law enforcement officers.
    How many people are involved in cartel business is unknown, authorities said. Alliances shift quickly, as can the need to shut down to evade the law. Federal agents concede that numbers garnered by the operation pale compared to the cash and drugs pumped through Houston, but contend they’ve headed off countless crimes.
    “The public never gets the full picture, they don’t understand these murders, these kidnappings, these violent crimes are directly tied to these organizations,” said Vio*let Szeleczky, spokeswoman for the DEA regional office in Houston. “A lot of these guys are just real dirtbags.”

    Hard to spot connections

    In the murky underworld, it takes time and luck to connect dots.
    The accused mastermind of the Chilos attack, Jaime Zamora, 38, is charged with capital murder. He lived modestly, worked for Houston’s Parks and Recreation Department and was a Little League volunteer. State prosecutor Colleen Barnett said in court that such a profile was how he avoided detection.
    Paul Looney, Zamora’s lawyer, contends the government can’t prove his client has ever touched drugs or drug money, or that he is a crime boss. He added that Zamora had never before been arrested.
    “I don’t think there is a chance in hell (the prosecutor) is right about her theory of the case,” Looney said.
    Court documents indicate Steven Torres, 26, one of the men charged with helping Zamora with the 2006 killing, confessed “his part involving arranging the murder.” In 2002, he was sentenced to 10 years probation after being convicted of a murder he committed when he was 16.
    His lawyer could not be reached.
    Authorities, saying it’s tough to spot cartel connections because the gangsters work in several jurisdictions, point to at least seven homicides in the Houston area since 2006, as well as nine home invasions and five kidnappings tied to cartels. They believe there are many more.
    Among the unsolved local killings is the death of Pedro Cardenas Guillen, 36, whose last name is considered trafficking royalty. He was shot in the head and left in a ditch off Madden Road, near Fort Bend County.
    His uncle is Osiel Cardenas Guillen, reputed head of the powerful Gulf Cartel. He was extradited from Mexico and awaits trial in Houston on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering and threatening to kill federal agents.

    Third attempt succeeded

    Other victims of what authorities believe are cartel-related murders include a husband and wife who were tortured and shot in the head on Easingwold Drive, in northwest Houston. About 220 pounds of cocaine were later found in their attic.
    Some victims were in the drug business and may have owed money; others could be relatives of criminals or innocent victims, authorities say. Santiago “Chago” Salinas, 28, the crime boss who escaped death at Chilos, was killed six months later.
    High on cocaine as he answered the door of a room at the Baymont Inn on the Gulf Freeway, he was shot three times in the head.
    It was the third and final attempt on the life of the man who’d once been shot in the neck and left for dead in Mexico. His killing may have been the latest payback between rivals slugging it out.
    Chago’s brother-in-law was killed in Mexico, as was Zamora’s younger brother, who was known as “Danny Boy” and who was a lieutenant in a trafficking organization, according to authorities. Danny Boy’s boss, a major player in the Sinaloa cartel, also was murdered in Mexico.

    Survivors remember

    Those who survive the wrath of cartel gangsters don’t forget.
    “I thought I was going to die for sure,” recalled David DeLeon, a used-car dealer who was kidnapped on Airline Drive and severely beaten while being held for ransom, also in 2006. He was rescued by Houston police, but not before he was punched, kicked and thrown across a room so much that his face was unrecognizable.
    Authorities say the kidnappers were low-ranking thugs working for a cartel cell.
    In another instance, men armed with assault rifles attacked a Houston home. The resident used a handgun to kill one and wound another before the survivors left.
    Norma Gonzalez, whose husband was killed at Chilos, said she believes he used his body to shield his 4-year-old daughter and infant son. Leaning over her husband in the parking lot, she whispered, “Everything is going to be OK.”
    He died minutes later.
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    Rating - 0%
    0   0   0
    Dec 11, 2008
    Austin, TX
    I guess everybody saw on the news that mexico is now under marshal law. The ambassador of mexico said his country doesnt need any help from the US government and only asks that the US cooperate in stoping the flow of guns across the border. it was his only real concern it seemed.


    TGT Addict
    Rating - 0%
    0   0   0
    Jan 28, 2009
    Houston, Cy-Fair
    I'm not into drugs and barely even drink. Last guys night out, I think I had a whole beer and a half from 7pm to midnight.

    At some point, the war on drugs needs to be examined. From allowing violent morons and psychopaths to make mounds of money, to hassling innocent Americans (traffic stops, border checkpoints, etc.), to trying to nanny the weak and impressionable (did prohibition really do anything to better society?), the insanity has to stop.

    Heck, if women can vote and we can all drink from the same water fountain, we can start talking about the earth not being flat.


    Rating - 0%
    0   0   0
    Mar 11, 2008
    DFW, North Texas
    I guess everybody saw on the news that mexico is now under marshal law. The ambassador of mexico said his country doesnt need any help from the US government and only asks that the US cooperate in stoping the flow of guns across the border. it was his only real concern it seemed.

    The article chronicles events spanning the last 2-4 years but I don't think anyone head a whole lot about them when they happened. Maybe a blurb on the news.

    Does anyone think that this whole "guns over the border" issue is new or is something Mexico is sincerely concerned about? Do you think all the publicity and warnings about travel are because there's a genuine concern about it?

    Do you really think Mexico has not had influence as to what to "announce" or declare and when to do so?

    Focus on DC and how all of a sudden, old political efforts now have knew support and "justification".

    The fueling of border "prejudice" is a pretty effective political weapon as well.

    Ever notice how quiet it gets as the director taps his baton and how we focus our attention, right before the orchestra begins? ;) :patriot:


    Active Member
    Rating - 100%
    3   0   0
    Jan 9, 2009
    Round Rock
    Obviously the war on drugs is a joke. It needs to be handled like a real war or abandoned. If this is a war, the users are in league with our enemy. If not, they are suffering from a medical condition (addiction). Make up your mind.

    Major Woody

    Active Member
    Rating - 0%
    0   0   0
    Sep 12, 2008
    Every time there is a war on something there is more of it. Sounds like consolidation of power. They are getting $50.00-100.00 AW's from south of their border. All about integration of the North American partnership. If our fools on the Hill let this this keep spilling over here we will have M/L here too. Funny how Mexico breaks our laws and says its our fault.


    New Member
    Rating - 0%
    0   0   0
    Mar 18, 2009
    here is a pair of links from another forum.

    The first is a DHS dispatch concerning an armed raid asnd takeover of an explosives manufacturer in Mexico:

    the second I will transcribe here: Washington Times - FBI warns of drug cartel arming

    The FBI is warning that one of Mexico´s most brutal drug cartels is attempting to violently regain control of drug trafficking routes in the United States and has been ordered to engage law enforcement officers to protect their operations, according to an intelligence report obtained by The Washington Times.

    Los Zetas, the enforcer of Mexico´s infamous Gulf Cartel, is reinforcing its ranks and stockpiling weapons in safe houses in the U.S. in response to recent crackdowns in the U.S. and Mexico against drug traffickers, said the FBI San Antonio Field Office's Joint Assessment Bulletin. The bulletin was dated Oct. 17 and was sent to law enforcement officials in the Texas region.

    The bulletin said the cartel's regional leader, Jaime Gonzalez, has ordered the reinforcements to a tactical operational territory, or "plaza," in the area around the southern Texas towns of McAllen and Mission, about 235 miles south of San Antonio and less than five miles from the border with Mexico.

    "In direct response to recent United States law enforcement activities against Los Zetas members of the McAllen-Mission, Texas Plaza, Jaime Gonzalez, AKA 'HUMMER,' has ordered additional personnel to the Plaza to regain control and engage law enforcement officers if confronted," states the bulletin, which was produced by the FBI's McAllen Intelligence Center.
    "These replacements are believed to be armed with assault rifles, bullet proof vests, and grenades, and are occupying safe houses throughout the McAllen Texas area," the bulletin states.

    Richard Kolko, a spokesman for the FBI in Washington, confirmed the authenticity of the report.
    "The FBI, with our gang task force members are well aware of Los Zetas and their violent nature. A bulletin not intended for the media was provided to law enforcement throughout Texas to alert them of potential new tactics," he said.
    Los Zetas is thought to be composed of former members of Mexico´s special forces who deserted or retired to work for the Gulf Cartel, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official familiar with the group told The Times. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of ongoing operations in the area, said that Los Zetas is thought to have taken control of the Gulf Cartel's operations.

    Its home base in Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican border town about 160 miles southwest of San Antonio, has been brutalized by ongoing cartel wars and witnessed a surge of violence in recent years.
    Recent arrests by the FBI of several members associated with the McAllen-Mission plaza led to the information on the drug cartel's intentions and on Mr. Gonzalez.

    Mr. Gonzalez, who operates out of Reynosa, Mexico, about 10 miles south of McAllen and Mission, instructed his cells to "engage law enforcement with a full tactical response should law enforcement attempt to intervene in their operations" and also is "believed to have established loose relationships with street and prison gangs to facilitate their movement and operations within the United States," according to the bulletin.

    An FBI search warrant on a rural location in Mission resulted in the seizure of multiple weapons including assault rifles, tactical vests, and an assortment of paintball weapons, which the Zetas have used for "regular paint ball training for tactical raids and car stops," the bulletin states.

    According to the bulletin, the "main responsibility of these cells" stationed in the United States "is to seek out people owing the Cartel money for lost, stolen, seized drug loads or profits."
    Those people are forced to "either pay their debt or are kidnapped. In addition, the plaza cells are proactively seeking out and eliminating rival drug and alien smuggling groups," the bulletin states.

    Since the summer, drug wars have escalated along the more than 2,000-mile U.S. border with Mexico, with thousands killed.
    Los Zetas, continues to control the drug routes in the south Texas area, which includes access to Interstate 35 and Highways 59, 359 and 83. The interstates run from south Texas to as far north as Canada and provide the drug cartels access to major U.S. cities, where they distribute billions of dollars in narcotics annually.

    The FBI McAllen Resident Agency, a division of the bureau's San Antonio Field Office, recently received the information that the Zetas have segregated the Rio Grande Valley area into tactical operational territories, or plazas, and "currently have standing orders to confront U.S. law enforcement agencies to zealously protect their criminal interests," the bulletin states.
    Each territory or "plaza" has a designated leader to oversee all enforcement operations conducted on behalf of the cartel.
    Increased pressure by U.S. and Mexican law enforcement has pushed the cartels "into a defensive mode," the DEA official said.

    "These particular types of activities by the cartels show their increased strength and the serious threat they pose to the national security in the U.S.," the official said. "It's not getting better but worse along the border. Unfortunately, the drug wars we've seen in Mexico are now spilling significantly into the United States."

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