The 7 criminal gangs that divided the Beltrán Leyva empire

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The 7 criminal gangs that divided the Beltrán Leyva empire

El Huero
dispute against "El Chapo" and the attacks of the federal government, almost disappear to the Beltrán Leyva Cartel, but these gangs continue the criminal legacy

by Rodrigo Gutiérrez González
Four brothers began the criminal dynasty: Arturo "El Barbas", Héctor "El Ingeniero", Alfredo "El Mochomo" and Carlos formed the Cartel of the Beltrán Leyva.

His best years came during the first decade of the two thousand, when together with "La Federación", led by Joaquín Guzmán Loera, "El Chapo"; Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, Juan José Esparragoza Moreno, "El Azul"; and Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel.

The Beltrán Leyva were climbing steps in the organization, until they broke with "The Federation" and made their organization as an independent cartel, thus starting a dispute with what, without them inside, is the Sinaloa Cartel.

This dispute with "El Chapo" and the ravages of the federal government caused that one by one they were falling.

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"El Mochomo" was arrested in 2008 in Culiacán, Sinaloa; "El Barbas" was killed in 2009 by federal forces in Cuernavaca, Morelos; Carlos was captured the same year, in 2009, also in Culiacán; and Hector was learned in 2014, in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato.

After the neutralization of the four brothers, the Cartel of the Beltrán Leyva was fragmented into seven criminal cells that have continued with the criminal legacy. These are:

"The Reds"

With presence in the north and center of Guerrero, as well as in much of Morelos, "Los Rojos" were born in the last years of the Beltrán Leyva boom.

They made Chilapa, Guerrero, their criminal stronghold beyond 2011, led by Jesús Nava Romero, "El Rojo", who was also Lieutenant of Arturo Beltrán Leyva, from this nickname the name of this criminal cell is born.

Jesus Nava Romero, "The Red"

"El Rojo" was murdered in 2013 in Puebla. Two years later, in 2015, one of its leaders, Leonor Nava aka "La Garra", was arrested in Guerrero.

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Currently, Zenén Nava Sánchez, "El Chaparro", family member of "El Rojo", was in charge of the organization in Guerrero, while Santiago Mazarí Hernández, "El Carrete", leads "Los Rojos" in Morelos.

The Chapparo and The Reel

The main criminal activity is drug trafficking, both sowing and transfer, because both Guerrero and Morelos are fundamental for their operations. They also dedicate themselves to kidnapping and extortion.

Among its activities is the cooptation of local authorities. On March 9, it was announced that "Los Rojos" financed one million pesos to at least 11 electoral campaigns in Morelos. In return, the criminals could operate in the entity and receive a monthly fee of between 100 thousand and 500 thousand pesos by the municipalities.

"The Mazatlecos"

"The Mazatlecos" were born as armed arm of the Beltrán Leyva, this in response to the weakening of the cartel before the war that broke out with the Sinaloa Cartel.

As his participation in the cartel advanced, "Los Mazatlecos" stopped being hired assassins to become drug lords in charge of drug trafficking. It began operations in Mazatlan to exercise its control in the states of Sinaloa, Durango and Nayarit.

That is how they handled the transfer of drugs, in huge quantities, to the United States. From marijuana, cocaine, heroin and even methamphetamines.

For the US authorities, "Los Mazatlecos" is already an independent group of the Beltrán Leyva, but with strong ties. His partial separation was gradual. First, after the death of Arturo Beltrán Leyva in 2009 and then, a year later, before the capture of Edgar Valdez "La Barbie" in 2010.

Samuel Lizárraga Ontiveros, "El Tortillero", was arrested last November in Querétaro.

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Fausto Isidro Meza, alias "Chapo Isidro", is considered not only his current leader, but the top boss of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel, according to the Administration for the control of drugs (DEA, for its acronym in English). The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) placed him among the most wanted and asks for him 5 million dollars.

Currently, according to the Attorney General's Office (PGR), they are present in Sinaloa and Baja California Sur.

The Ruelas Torres

José Luis Ruelas Torres was the patriarch of the family, his name appeared on the list of the Drug Control Administration (DEA, for its acronym in English) as leader of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel.

Along with Fausto Isidro Meza, alias "Chapo Isidro", José Luis was rising in the criminal organization before the arrest and murder of the Beltrán Leyva brothers, as well as other close relatives.

With the ascent of Ruelas Torres, the injeren beganhis family in the drug business and with it the independence of the drug trafficking group of the Beltrán Leyva, thus creating the Cartel de los Ruelas Torres, responsible for the mainly heroin traffic to the United States, from Los Angeles to New York .

The Ruelas Torres served under the shadow of the Beltrán Leyva. In 2015, they were targeted by US authorities when José Luis was accused of drug trafficking, money laundering and the handling of a criminal organization.

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They maintained secrecy until April 2017, when Ruelas Torres was arrested and died six months later at age 63, before being extradited to the United States.

However, someone already occupied the leadership within the criminal organization: the son of José Luis Ruelas Torres, Joel Efrén Ruelas Ávila.

Subsequently, the Treasury Department identified the organization as independent and described them as the "most significant drug traffickers."

Together with Ruelas Ávila, the US authorities identified eight relatives and part of the first circle of the Torres Rueda Cartel:

María Monserrat Ávila Ochoa, Patricia Lourdes Ruelas Ávila, José María Ruelas Ávila, Trinidad Ruelas Ávila, Raquel Rivera Guerrero, Cruz Sánchez Medrano, Pedro Sánchez Medrano and Reyna Isabel Rivera Sandoval. All originating in the cradle of drug trafficking in Mexico: Sinaloa.

"The Granados"

The Guerrero region of Tierra Caliente is its criminal stronghold, according to criminal authorities.

"Los Granados", like "Los Rojos", in its name refers to its leaders, however, this time it is not a nickname, but a surname and not a single man, but a whole family.

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This is the Granados family, who began operating throughout the Costa Grande de Guerrero for the Cartel of the Beltrán Leyva. Its main function is the sowing and trafficking of marijuana.

The family head was Rubén "El Nene" Granados, who was arrested twice, first in 2009, but soon regained his freedom, and then in 2017, so far, definitively.


Along with the fall of the Beltrán Leyva brothers, Salvador "El Chava" Granados, was in charge of the criminal and family gang. Supported by a self-defense group formed by Leopoldo Soberanis Hernández, "Los Granados" fought the Knights Templar.

It is presumed that "Los Granados" currently maintain an alliance with the Jalisco Cartel Nueva Generación (CJNG) and the Michoacán Family.

"The Ardillos"

With more than 20 years settled in the Guerrero municipality of Quechultenango, "Los Ardillos" were founded by Celso Ortega Rosas, "El Ardilla".

Dedicated mainly to the poppy planting, "Los Ardillos" increased their criminal activity in the collection of floor, "piracy" and kidnapping.

"The Squirrel" was arrested in 2008 for kidnapping and carrying a weapon, however, three years later he was released, which did not last long because a few days later he was shot in the doorway of his house.

His seven children Celso, Jorge Ivan, Antonio, Bernardo, Pedro, Juana and Lilia, "Los Ardillos", were made of the criminal organization, the first three with arrest warrants and the last four in investigation. In front of the criminal band were: Celso and Jorge Iván Ortega Jiménez.

Bernardo, for his part, was municipal president and deputy for the PRD. He has never denied his family ties, but he assures that it has nothing to do with "Los Ardillos".

Currently, according to the PGR, they operate in the Mountain Region and the center of Guerrero.


They are responsible for the brutal violence that has placed Acapulco as one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

They call themselves the Independent Cartel of Acapulco (CIDA) and are led by Irving Macedo Acevedo.

Everything indicates that this group has a direct relationship with Edgar Valdez "La Barbie", who had his criminal stronghold in the port of Guerrero when he was one of the leaders of the Beltrán Leyva.

Several of the members of CIDA left "Los Negros", an armed wing led by "La Barbie" to fight the Gulf Cartel and "Los Zetas" in Tamaulipas.

After the capture of Valdez Villerial and seeing the rupture of the Beltrán Leyva, they decided to separate from the cartel and face the successor of "La Barbie", Carlos Montemayor González.

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A clue to this was the message addressed to Montemayor and signed by CIDA on the body of a person killed with 14 bullets in Acapulco. Then, after his arrest in November 2010, another CIDA blanket thanked the capture of Montemayor.

"The 2 thousand"

The name of the band comes from the nickname of Javier Hernández García, known as "El panchillo" or "El 2 mil".

Hernández García started his accriminal activity in the nineties as bodyguards of the Beltrán Leyva.

However, after the rupture and fall of said cartel with the Sinaloa Cartel, it began to make alliances with other enemy organizations such as the Treviño Morales brothers, leaders of "Los Zetas".

In its best years, the organization of "El 2 mil" was present in Coahuila, Chihuahua, San Luis Potosí and Sonora.

In February 2016, he was detained by the Army on Saturday in the municipality of Guasave, Sinaloa, leaving his group headless but acting.

Its leader is currently unknown, but it is known that it operates mainly in Sonora.