Mexican Border State Again Braces for Protracted Cartel Violence

AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards
AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards

Residents in the border state of Sonora are bracing for another wave of violence as factions of the Sinaloa and Beltran Leyva Cartels continue fighting for control of lucrative drug smuggling territories. 

For months, the Sinaloa Cartel faction called Los Salazar have been fighting with rivals in the Beltran Leyva Cartel, previously led by Trinidad “Chapo Trini” Olivas Valenzuela. The fighting has focused in the municipality of Cajeme and particularly in the border city Obregon.

This month, Olivas Valenzuela was gunned down in the coastal state of Jalisco as he ate near a food truck. 

In the days leading up to the murder of El Chapo Trini, the municipality of Cajeme saw a series of warnings disseminated through social media to residents about impending violence. The message warned locals to avoid being outside after 6 p.m. because they could come upon a shootout. The message was allegedly signed by two commanders with the Los Salazars identifying themselves only as El 75 and El Pirata. 

Law enforcement and intelligence sources on both sided of the border consulted by Breitbart Texas revealed that the likely successor as the regional boss for the Beltran Leyva Cartel in Ciudad Obregon is a drug lord wanted by U.S. authorities named Sajid Emilio “El Cadete” Quintero Navidad, who is also the cousin of top drug Rafael Caro Quintero. Federal authorities identified Quintero Navidad as a top boss in Sonora and have linked him to ongoing murders and kidnappings as part of their territorial dispute. The drug lord is a former member of the Sinaloa Cartel who has since switched sides. 

Federal authorities continue hunting for Caro Quintero after he was released by Mexican authorities under suspicious circumstances, Breitbart Texas reported. Caro Quintero is wanted in the U.S. for his role in the murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. 

The original turf war between Los Salazar and Chapo Trini’s group led to an alarming spike in execution-style murders in and around the municipality of Cajeme, resulting in the request for federal police and military assistance from Sonora Governor Claudia Pavlovich Arellano.

The current unofficial number of homicides in Cajeme has already surpassed 170 in 2017 with most tied to drug disputes. 

Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.)


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