Things That Matter

Mexican Security Forces Just Killed La Catrina – One Of Mexico’s Most Famous Cartel Leaders And Not Everyone Approves

The cartel wars in Mexico have produced their fair share of larger-than-life characters and stories of success and terrible failure that have to be read to be believed. Such is the case of La Catrina, a hitwoman for the vicious Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG), which after the demise of Los Zetas and considered the somewhat diminished capacities of the Sinaloa Cartel has surged as the most powerful and violent drug trafficking organization in the world. As Post Media News reminds us, the CJNG is perhaps one of the most complex global players in trafficking, and “responsible for trafficking many tons of cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl-laced heroin into the United States, as well as for violence and significant loss of life in Mexico. The cartel is said to operate in 75 per cent of Mexican states, and to have operations in Europe, Asia and Australia as well as across the Americas”. Its leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes “El Mencho” is one of the most wanted criminals in the world. 

Among its ranks, the CJNG has had some female dealers and killers. Among them, the most legendary and powerful was a young woman of vicious looks, a killing fashionista by the moniker of La Catrina. She was only 21-years-old, but was known for her savage methods.  Her real name:  María Guadalupe López Esquivel. As CE Noticias Financieras reminds us, she was born and raised in one of the most violent regions of the country: “Although she was born in Buenavista, María Guadalupe was taken to live in Tepalcatepec, where she attended primary school, counted by settlers from that municipality of Tierra Caliente”. 

La Catrina was a sicaria and led a group of assassins who were accused of ambushing a police convoy.

La Catrina committed the ultimate crime in the world of the Mexican cartel wars: she and her sicarios ambushed a police convoy and ended the lives of 13 officers in the much disputed state of Michoacan. She then became a prime target for the army and the newly formed Guardia Nacional. La Catrina was infamous for her bloody methods and cruelness. 

She got into the cartel when she fell in love with one of its most powerful members.

As often happens, she was led into a life of crime out of love, as she started dating one of the cartel strongmen. As news.com.au reports: “It is believed that La Catrina joined the CJNG in 2017, having fallen in love with another leader, Miguel “El M2” Fernandez. She rose rapidly through the ranks under El M2, living a glamorous lifestyle within the cartel. When she died she was in charge of paying fellow criminals and lead assassinations, extortion and kidnappings”. She often flaunted her lavish lifestyle on social media, posing in designer clothes and holding weapons made out of pure gold. 

An online bodycam video shows the moment when security forces found her gasping for air as a river of blood emanated from her neck.

The video is a gruesome reminder of the consequences that individuals who decide to dedicate their lives to crime might ultimately face. As the camera approaches we can see a young woman dressed in sweatpants and what seems to be a hoodie sitting on the floor. She is gasping for air and the sound is chilling, a premonition of certain death. The soldier tells her “hang on, mija, we are waiting for a helicopter to take you.”

But as luck would have it, it was way to late and the sad legend of La Catrina was born. It was a moment that will perhaps be turned into a movie scene someday, as Post Media News reports: “An amateur tourniquet draped around her neck, she can be seen sitting slumped in the dust beside a wall, blood dripping from her hand and neck as she gasps for breath. Glancing up at the officer approaching her, she seems resigned to her fate.”

She died while arrested, as a helicopter was trying to take her to hospital.

The mission in which La Catrina was killed and six other cartel members were captured involved state trooperes, state police and the National Guard. It all happened in a village called La Bocanada in Tepalcatepec, Michoacán, a territory known for the cruel disputes among cartels. They were found in a safe house after a tip led the authorities to capture one of the CJNG’s biggest fish.

La Catrina’s death is a big step, at least in terms of media reach, for the AMLO government, which has failed to reign in the cartels and has so far been unsuccessful in curbing violence and killings in the country. 2019 was the bloodiest year to date in modern Mexican history and the government seems to be at the mercy of the cartels. 

The Bodies Of A California Couple Were Found On Their Tijuana Property And Now Police Have Uncovered Two More

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The Bodies Of A California Couple Were Found On Their Tijuana Property And Now Police Have Uncovered Two More

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Last week a California couple was reported missing by their family in Garden Grove – a suburb of Los Angeles. The couple had traveled to Tijuana (where they were originally from) to collect the rent from the tenant who was living on their property. Unfortunately, they never returned home.

With the ever increasing violence in Tijuana, their family feared the worse and a few days later was confirmed when police located their bodies. However, the story continues to develop as a total of three more bodies have been found on their property.

Investigators say that two more bodies (for a total of 5) have been discovered on a Tijuana property where a California couple disappeared.

Credit: Fiscalía General / Baja California

Jesus Ruben Lopez Guillen, 70, and his wife Maria Teresa Lopez, 65, of Garden Grove, a couple with dual U.S.-Mexico citizenship, vanished on January 10 after they crossed the border to collect more than $6,700 in rent from tenants of two houses they owned in Tijuana. Their bodies turned up in one of the houses, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported, citing Mexican investigators.

The attorney general’s office for the state of Baja California, just south of San Diego, said late Saturday the second set of bodies – one male and the other female – are in a state of advanced decomposition. All four bodies were covered in lime when they were found by investigators.

The story started when the couple traveled to Tijuana to collect rent on properties they owned – and then never returned to California.

Credit: Garden Grove Police Department

When the couple failed to return home the next day, their daughter, Norma Lopez, reported the couple missing.

Garden Grove police opened a missing person case after the Guilléns were reported missing. Garden Grove police Lt. Carl Whitney said their daughter had been tracking her parents though the Find My iPhone app, which last showed the couple at their property in the Colonia Obrero neighborhood south of downtown Tijuana, about four miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Then the phone went dead, and she could not track them anymore, Whitney said.

Police have since arrested their son-in-law in connection with the murders.

The man accused of killing the couple, their son-in-law, was ordered by a judge to remain in police custody while the state’s prosector’s office continues to gather evidence. According to authorities, they likely have enough evidence to charge him the murders of each of the victims found on the two properties.

Authorities suspect the man killed his in-laws in a dispute over money. They say he confessed to burying them on one of their properties, where he lived.

The judge during the hearing Sunday ruled Santiago will remain in jail under “forced disappearance” charges.

A “forced disappearance” charge is not as serious as a homicide charge, but it is still a felony in Mexico. It means the man is accused of trying to make the couple disappear. The charge can be used in cases of living or deceased victims. The man also was accused of something similar to obstruction of justice, for allegedly misleading investigators and refusing to assist in the investigation.

Prosecutors said investigators have obtained cell phone records, text messages and video camera footage of the defendant and of the victims’ truck — evidence prosecutors said contradicted his statements to police.

Investigators May Have Found Remains Of The 43 Mexican Students Who Have Been Missing For 5 Years

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Investigators May Have Found Remains Of The 43 Mexican Students Who Have Been Missing For 5 Years

Omar Torres / Getty

In 2014, 43 students from a teacher’s college in Ayotzinapa went missing. Now, investigators have found human remains that may clue them in on what exactly happened to the missing college students. 

The Mexican government had initially concluded that local corrupt police officers were in the pocket of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel mistakenly believed the students were a part of a rival gang. The officers were said to have turned the students over to the cartel who killed them and dumped them in a landfill. 

The students’ parents did not accept this version of events and led various protests to demand answers from the state. They were vindicated when an independent investigation using forensic analysis discovered the government’s findings were impossible. When President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador took office in 2018 he vowed to solve this mystery. 

Investigators found human remains that may uncover what really happened.

A lawyer for some of the victims’ parents, Vidulfo Rosales told Mexico News Daily, that remains discovered by the National Search Commission surrounding Iguala, where the students went missing, will be analyzed by the government and foreign third parties. 

“The new hypothesis is that there was a situation in municipalities that neighbor Iguala that was not known before,” Rosales said. 

While the government’s initial theory was that the students were burned in a Cocula garbage dump, the new theory suggests that the students may have been separated and spread across municipalities. The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts believes that the 43 young men unwittingly took a cartel bus filled with heroin that was supposed to go to the United States. 

There were five buses transporting students from the college to a protest, but the bus with the missing 43 was the only one stopped by federal police.

The previous administration may have been covering up what really happened.

Following the incident, all traces of the official case file disappeared. Later on, an independent investigation found that authorities had used torture tactics to coerce confessions from suspects. 

The case hasn’t been able to make any progress because the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts’ efforts were thwarted by the previous government that refused to renew their mandate in 2016. AMLO promised to open an investigation after taking office, but 2019 saw little progress. 

Last September, 21 municipal police officers that were arrested in connection with the missing students were released from prison. 

“The judge ordered the officers’ release on the grounds that statements they made to prosecutors in the previous government were obtained by illegal means, including torture,” according to Mexico News Daily

However, human rights undersecretary Alejandro Encinas believed the move was a miscarriage of justice. Encinas believes the judge failed to follow a legal precedent which decrees that when evidence was obtained through torture a new investigation must occur rather than the automatic acquittal of the defendant. Encinas also noted that the judge set free those who were tortured but made no effort to hold those who did the alleged torturing accountable. The same judge had previously released a suspect in the case two weeks before. 

“The judge interpreted the law with a lot of laxity . . . He didn’t impart justice and caused serious damage to the search for truth,” Encinas said.

In total, 77 out of 142 suspects have been released after judges found the convicting evidence was obtained unlawfully. 

2020 might bring answers about the missing 43.

“We still don’t know what happened. We are overwhelmed, stuck,” Antonio Tizapa, father of one of the missing student’s named Jorge. “And after five years of demanding justice, five years fighting to keep the case open, it’s unreal that we still can’t find them.” 

With possible remains uncovered, the families of the victims said they would give AMLO two months (starting in November) to make progress in the case. The remains will be analyzed in Mexico, the Institute of Legal Medicine at the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria, and experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

In the past 12 years, 47,000 people have disappeared in Mexico, according to NBC News

“Politics affects us on both sides of the border,” he said. “But what happened to my son is happening to many other children in Mexico and the United States.”