'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

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MX
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'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

MX
This post was updated on .
Note: This post includes excerpts from the Wikipedia article of Omar Lorméndez Pitalúa ("El Pita"), which I published on 21 January 2020.



The stunning incidents occurring in Mexico's drug war sometimes seem right out of a movie script. The plot is often centered in violence-ridden towns or cities, where Mexican drug cartel bosses rule as regional warlords. The main players include police officers, politicians, cartel leaders and their lovers. It is a plot still being played out in the life of Omar Lorméndez Pitalúa ("El Pita"), a fugitive and founding member of Los Zetas.

Kidnapping and marriage

Lorméndez Pitalúa fell in love and married his kidnapping victim Angélica Lagunas Jaramillo after the Gulf Cartel ordered him to abduct her. The two first met on 16 August 2001, when Lorméndez Pitalúa and other Zetas members abducted Lagunas Jaramillo and her daughter Ana Bertha González Lagunas for running a contraband business in Matamoros without the cartel's authorization. The Gulf Cartel required independent smugglers to pay a taxation (commonly referred to as derecho de piso in Mexico) for smuggling drugs and other illegal merchandise in their corridor. However, Lagunas Jaramillo was running a contraband business of alcohol, perfumes, cocaine and marijuana without paying fees to the cartel. She had a restaurant from where she operated. According to the testimony of Agustín Hernández Martínez, a former Gulf Cartel operator and protected witness under the code name "Rafael", the cartel summoned about eighteen Zetas gunmen to abduct Lagunas Jaramillo and her daugther from their home in Matamoros.

The night the incident occurred, Los Zetas went to her property and rang the door's bell. When Lagunas Jaramillo opened, the gunmen stormed in and submitted her. Among the gunmen was Lorméndez Pitalúa. Lagunas Jaramillo was dragged from her hairs around the house while the gunmen searched for contraband merchandise. She was then forced into a vehicle.

Lagunas Jaramillo was taken by Los Zetas to a secret location known as "Punto Óscar" to meet Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, the leader of the Gulf Cartel. In the meeting, she was forced to hand over the drugs in her possession, give the cartel the money she had in her bank accounts to pay for the outstanding fees, and work for them. If she refused, the Gulf Cartel promised to kill her. Cárdenas Guillén also threatened Lagunas Jaramillo with death if she did not buy houses for the cartel under her name. The Gulf Cartel intended to use these properties as safehouses. Cárdenas Guillén told her he would pay her US$100 for each transaction, and that she was exempted from any taxation for her drug operations. She was also forced to pay MXN$20,000 for each of the gunmen who raided her property. Both Lagunas Jaramillo and her daughter agreed to the Gulf Cartel's measures.

Approximately three months after her abduction, however, her relationship with Los Zetas strengthened. Her restaurant became a popular location for Zetas members, and she became involved in drug trafficking activities with drugs provided by Los Zetas. While working in Los Zetas, Lorméndez Pitalúa and Lagunas Jaramillo became romantically involved; Lorméndez Pitalúa asked Cárdenas Guillén for 15 days off to organize his wedding. Both married in 2002. Guzmán Decena also became romantically involved with Lagunas Jaramillo's daughter and both had a child out of wedlock.

Early life and background

Lorméndez Pitalúa was born on 18 January 1972 in Tultitlán, State of Mexico, Mexico. When he was 19, he left his home and joined the Mexican Army on 21 July 1991. No public records exist of Lorméndez Pitalúa's position(s) while in the Army, but a protected witness stated that he served as a member of the elite Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales (GAFE). During the late 1990s, he was contacted by someone in the Gulf Cartel and offered a higher salary if he agreed to work for them. Enticed by what the underworld had to offer, he deserted from the military on 26 November 1999 and joined the cartel. He became a member of the cartel's newly-created paramilitary group, known as Los Zetas, which was largely composed of ex-commandos. Lorméndez Pitalúa is often cited as one of the founding members of Los Zetas who was reportedly part of the Grupo de los 14 (English: Group of 14), a named used to describe the first fourteen Zetas members.  

Lorméndez Pitalúa reported directly to cartel boss Osiel Cárdenas Guillén and Zetas leader Arturo Guzmán Decena ("Z-1"). In Los Zetas, Lorméndez Pitalúa used the code names "Z-10" and/or "Z8-HK37". He has several other known aliases, including: "Comandante Pita"; "El Chavita", "El Mono Tonto" and "El Mono Zonzo".  

Lorméndez Pitalúa and other members of Los Zetas were placed in-charge of collecting fees for the Gulf Cartel from people who worked in contraband merchandise, human smuggling, and drug trafficking in Matamoros. They also guarded prostitution zones and beaches to prevent smugglers from moving illegal merchandise through Matamoros without paying taxes.

Career in Tamaulipas and Michoacán

While in Los Zetas, Lorméndez Pitalúa worked on several assignments directed by Guzmán Decena. On 20 June 2001, he was part of an assault team of twenty-five Zetas members that raided the Tamaulipas State Police headquarters in Matamoros to release José Ramón Dávila López ("El Cholo"), a high-ranking Zetas member. According to eye-witnesses, Lorméndez Pitalúa and his associates stormed the police installations wearing black uniforms and sporting AK-47s and AR-15s, and used a tear-gas grenade launcher to rescue their comrade. Although Los Zetas were successful at rescuing Dávila López, they suffered a few losses: Zetas member Hugo Ponce Salazar ("Z-4") was arrested alongside former Matamoros Municipal Police officer José Octavio Garza Garza and José Guadalupe Vidaña Triana. In retaliation for the losses suffered by security forces and the increased police activity in their turf, Los Zetas responded less than three weeks later by murdering state police chief Jaime Yañez Cantú and his driver Gerardo Gascón Soltero in a drive-by shooting on 9 July 2001 in Matamoros. Dávila López began working under Lorméndez Pitalúa and Lazcano Lazcano as one of the cartel's lead assassins.

In early 2003, Lorméndez Pitalúa was based out of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, and was in charge of taking control of the turf from other gangs that operated in the area: Los Cachos, Los Texas and Flores Soto. His main objective, however, was to help the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas in their turf war against the Sinaloa Cartel; rival gangsters Eloy Treviño García and Edgar Valdez Villarreal ("La Barbie") opposed Lorméndez Pitalúa's expansionist plans and ordered their associates to wage a war against them. Lorméndez Pitalúa's campaign against the Sinaloa Cartel also extended to other parts of Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Michoacán, Nuevo León and Mexico City. He had the support of cartel members like Mateo Díaz López, Raúl Lucio Hernández Lechuga ("El Lucky"), Héctor Manuel Sauceda Gamboa ("El Karis"), Iván Velázquez Caballero ("El Talibán") and Miguel Treviño Morales ("Z-40").

In late 2003, Zetas member Flavio Méndez Santiago ("El Amarillo") and Lorméndez Pitalúa were sent to Michoacán to combat the rival forces of the Milenio Cartel and attempt to take over their turf. Lorméndez Pitalúa was appointed as the head of Los Zetas in the area. He was a close ally of Carlos Rosales Mendoza ("El Tisico") and Servando Gómez Martínez ("La Tuta"), who headed the Michoacán-based La Familia Michoacana criminal group.

Aside from working against the Milenio Cartel, Lorméndez Pitalúa was also responsible for establishing connections with authorities to help Los Zetas gain information from officials working against them. He had local authorities from Michoacán and Guerrero providing him with this information and protection from the local police. Public officials were paid by Los Zetas to allow them to operate freely in the area without being arrested. According to "Karen", a protected witness that worked for Los Zetas in Michoacán, Lormendez Pitalúa paid officials in U.S. dollars and in payments from US$50,000 and higher. He also bought uniforms and weapons for the police. In Michoacán, Lorméndez Pitalúa had two former Kaibiles (special forces soldiers from the Guatemalan Armed Forces) under his command.

According to reports from the SIEDO, Mexico's organized crime investigation agency, Lorméndez Pitalúa worked closely with Julio César Godoy Toscano, former Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) deputy in Michoacán. Godoy reportedly joined La Familia Michoacana in 2004 during a meeting with Lorméndez Pitalúa and Lázaro Cárdenas mayor aspirant Gustavo Torres Camacho. The meeting took place at the home of Rosales Mendoza's sibling Lorenzo. Federal authorities suspect that Godoy reportedly received US$350,000 to support Torres Camacho's political election and to provide the cartel with information from the police about law enforcement operations against them. The money came directly from cartel boss Nazario Moreno González ("El Chayo").



Money laundering activities

From 2004 to 2009, Lorméndez Pitalúa laundered his money by using businessman Carlos Sotelo Luviano (pictured) as his main strawperson. Sotelo reportedly worked for Los Zetas and managed 37 bank accounts owned by Lorméndez Pitalúa. He underwent plastic surgery multiple times to hide his identity and used the aliases Francisco Chaire Huerta and Jorge Lagunas Jaramillo to purchase assets on Lorméndez Pitalúa's behalf. Among the assets purchased included Pemex gas stations, houses, vehicles, and multiple commercial establishments in Morelos, Guerrero and Mexico City.

Los Zetas preferred to launder money by purchasing gas stations because they viewed it as a discreet way of investing their money in the economy. Lazcano Lazcano oversaw the overall strategic initiative for Los Zetas in this market space, and used Lorméndez Pitalúa and his cousin Humberto Canales Lazcano ("Comandante Chivo") as his trusted business partners. Some Pemex officials and third-party contractors worked in complicity with Los Zetas; others who opposed their initiatives were extorted, had family members kidnapped, or were killed by the cartel.

Sotelo was arrested in 2009 with his business partner Jaime Macedo Salgado after a judge issued an arrest warrant for their captures. At the moment of his arrest, Sotelo was planning to open another gas station for Los Zetas in Guerrero.

Arrest and release

On 21 September 2005, Mexican authorities received an anonymous tip on Lorméndez Pitalúa's whereabouts and proceeded to apprehend him in Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán. He was carrying a fake identification card from the Federal Investigative Agency (AFI) with the alias Martín Hinojosa García. After his arrest, Los Zetas placed Efraín Teodoro Torres ("El Efra") and Gustavo González Castro ("El Erótico") as heads of the group in Michoacán.

In 2013, Lorméndez Pitalúa was released from prison and resumed his organized crime activities. He is part of a faction of Los Zetas known as the Zetas Vieja Escuela (English: Old School Zetas). They are rivals to the Cártel del Noreste (CDN), another Zetas faction. He operates primarily out of Tamaulipas, with presence in Mexican states of Tabasco, Quintana Roo and Oaxaca. Lorméndez Pitalúa had original Zetas member Luis Reyes Enríquez ("El Rex") under his command. He was responsible for helping Lorméndez Pitalúa build a network of corrupt local authorities to help in their criminal operations prior to his murder.

Mexico's Attorney General's Office (FGR), Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA) and Secretariat of the Navy (SEMAR), with the help of U.S. authorities, have identified Lorméndez Pitalúa as a leading player in the Zetas Vieja Escuela faction. He is accused of driving drug-related violence in Tamaulipas since 2016. His wife Lagunas Jaramillo is behind bars, serving a 20-year sentence for her drug trafficking activities. Her daughter Ana Martha suffered a different fate: she was killed in Matamoros in 2007. Lorméndez Pitalúa and his wife were unable to attend her funeral.

Notes

* Wikipedia article is under public domain
* Multiple sources, see here for more details
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

leChef
Excellent job, MX. Where is that pic from? And do you have any more?
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

Sky98
MX
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

MX
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by leChef
@leChef: Thank you. The picture surfaced after his money launderer Carlos Sotelo Luviano was arrested. I don't have any more, but the source can be found here. BTW, if you find additional information not included in his Wikipedia page, let me know so I can add it with a source. I'm still reviewing the testimonies of "Karen" to see if I can find anything else.

@Sky98: I don't think that's him. I believe that is a recent picture of Carlos Sotelo Luviano (the man pictured above in the original post, but about a decade later). I saw that picture elsewhere but now I cannot find it.
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

MaxiMillian2k19
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Is that pitalua on the second photo?
MX
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

MX
I responded to Sky98 above. I believe it is Carlos Sotelo Luviano. Could be wrong, but I saw this picture elsewhere and I also think the eyebrows/eyes sort of match. Feel free to disagree b/c I really don't know.
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

MaxiMillian2k19
The reason I think it's Pita because, the Shape of nose matches with the mugshot's one
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

Frank
In reply to this post by MX
The Mexican Patty Hearst
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

Gringowitdalingo
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How do u look up testimonies
MX
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

MX
This post was updated on .
Hi, Gringowitdalingo. Welcome to the forum!

The easiest way to read testimonies is to find news outlets that get a hold of them from the Mexican government via their transparency law. The case about the kidnapping mentioned in this post is code named PGR/SIEDO/UEIDSC/001/2003. If you Google that you'll find journalists who've read through the case and posted the testimonies or observations. Another case I used to write this biography was from PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/222/2005, which includes detailed testimonies from the protected witness "Karen" (killed in 2015).

Please visit his Wikipedia page I wrote and go to the References section. You will find all the sources I used there, some which cite the cases I previously mentioned. I recommend the sources from Nuestro Tiempo outlet if you want raw, first-person testimonies from "Karen" and his endeavors with Omar Lorméndez Pitalúa.

Hope this helps.

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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

canadiana
Administrator
In reply to this post by MX
1 of the few left operating after all these years!Interesting how these guy's lives (and spouse's) turn out 20 years down the road if they are lucky to have made it that far or is it luck of the draw?
MX
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

MX
Hi, canadiana. Thanks for your comment!

Since the implementation of Mexico's New Criminal Justice System (Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal, or NSJP), lots of old school narcos who were supposed to spend years behind bars were released and absolved. I think that is a big factor in their resurgence like we see in this case. The new justice system is a step in the right direction for Mexico in my opinion but it had many unintended consequences.
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

Chivis
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In reply to this post by MaxiMillian2k19
Good call----ears, eyebrows and chin match as well
 
The way I see it.... the more people that don't like me, the less people I have to please
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

canadiana
Administrator
In reply to this post by MX
MX you are 1 of 3 amazing guys on here along with leChef and MaxiMillian2k19!It's interesting watching  you guys like 3 well oiled machines meshing in the pursuit of info and bouncing and feeding off each other to all of our benefits!Just saying.Stick around.
MX
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

MX
Thank you, canadiana. I'm glad I found such a great community here at BB. I learn a lot every day from everyone here. This community is a fascinating place and I hope to be more involved in 2020 and the years to come. You, Chivis, the rest of the admins and translators, others who comment and post here, our readers (in the forum and main board), big thanks to everyone.
MX
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

MX
Someone emailed me what could be the Facebook page of Zetas founder Omar Lormendez Pitalua (pictured immediately below). After taking a look at those in his social media circle, I think I've found some of his supposed relatives too.



Note: Omar Lormendez Pitalua is a Zetas founder and fugitive. He currently heads Zetas Vieja Escuela.

- Omar Lormendez Pitalua: https://www.facebook.com/omar.lormendezpitalua (FB page) - At first I discarded it as an unfortunate coincidence - a person sharing the exact same name as the Zetas founder in question - but as I dung deeper I found too many matches. Though the friend's list is hidden, you can still see some comments and likes in the few pictures publicly available. I discovered that some of these folks are from the State of Mexico, the same place where the Zetas founder was born/is from. This alone is one match, but then I found another guy sharing his surnames "Lormendez Pitalua".



- Alejandro Lormendez Pitalua https://www.facebook.com/alejandro.lormendezpitalua (FB page) - He is likely on Omar's friend list because I found this by crossing-referencing it with someone who liked his pictures. He shares the exact same surnames and has people from the State of Mexico in his friend's list, specifically the municipality of Cuautitlan Izcalli, which is 20 minutes from where the Zetas founder was born.

- Jorge Lormendez https://www.facebook.com/jorge.lormenfez (FB page) - Also in this FB circle. He's from the State of Mexico and looks very similar to the Zetas founder. Maybe it's just the mustache? I'll let you guys be the judges here.



Here is the list of other Lormendez relatives I found on FB. From what I've gathered, the Lormendez family resides in Veracruz and the State of Mexico.

- Rigoberto Lormendez https://www.facebook.com/rigoberto.lormendez.3
- Mar Lormendez https://www.facebook.com/mar.lormendez
- Jorge Lormendez https://www.facebook.com/rocky400 
- Gilberto Lormendez https://www.facebook.com/gilberto.lord.52
- Sonia Lormendez https://www.facebook.com/sonia.lormendezhernandez
- Jose Luis Lormendezhttps://www.facebook.com/joseluis.lormendez.5
- 94 more Lormendez members in Pillo Figueroa Lormendez's page https://www.facebook.com/felipe.figueroa.37266136/friends
MX
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Re: 'El Pita', the Zetas founder who married his kidnapping victim

MX
Update: I strongly think the Facebook profile above is in fact from Zetas founder El Pita. Rationale is found below.

A person who commented in one of his posts, Victor Salas (pictured below), was in the military and called Omar Lormendez Pitalua by the alias "El Pita". Salas said in the comment section he was part of the 30th Infantry Battalion (Pueblo Viejo, Veracruz).

One of the comments made a guy named David Francisco Morales Garcia acknowledges that he was a Special Forces (GAFE) member in Veracruz along with El Pita and others identified as Pineiro, Mellado, Vizcarra and El Pollo.

"Mellado" is likely Galindo Mellado Cruz, a Zetas founder. "Vizcarra" is likely Juan Miguel Vizcarra Cruz, a Zetas member who was based in Nuevo Laredo. "El Pollo" could be Cesar Eduardo Garcia Martinez, a old-school Gulf Cartel crime boss who was in the judicial police, which Salas said worked jointly with the GAFEs in Veracruz when they were stationed there.

This in itself is a near-absolute match, especially when they cited other known Zetas founders who were in the military. Zetas founder El Pita has been active on Facebook in the last month.









I want to thank Borderland Beat user Sky98 for providing all this information for me. I'm simply the messenger. He/she was the one who initially asked me to write about El Pita and has been following his trace on social media.