Top Gulf Cartel Commander Found Hiding in Mexican Beach Resort Town

Gulf Cartel Pantera main
Mexico's Secretariat of the Interior

One of the top Gulf Cartel commanders, directly linked to the raging violence in the border state of Tamaulipas, had been hiding out in the beach resort town of Puerto Vallarta. Federal and state law enforcement authorities found him and made the arrest.

Known as Pantera 16, Victor Manuel Flores Rico has been described by authorities as a ruthless cartel commander. He is linked to various cases of murder, kidnapping, extortion, cattle theft, and the theft of fuel in large quantities. Information provided to Breitbart Texas by law enforcement sources in Tamaulipas revealed that Flores Rico is directly linked to the kidnapping of Roberto Quiroga Valdez. The victim is the son of a family in the food business who was taken by cartel gunmen in 2014 and has never been seen again. Quiroga Valdez had been kidnapped twice in 2013 but he was released after his family paid heavy sums of money to the Gulf Cartel. Despite meeting the ransom demands Gulf Cartel gunmen did not release Quiroga Valdez after the 2014 kidnapping. Mexican federal authorities are currently offering close to $80,000 USD for information leading to his return. 

In addition to being tied to multiple kidnappings and murders, the man known as Pantera 16 controlled the central rural communities of Soto La Marina, Abasolo, Jimenez, and Aldama for the Gulf Cartel. Despite having control over that area, Flores Rico had moved his operational headquarters to the central part of Mexico in the city of Leon, Guanajuato. At the time of the arrest, Flores Rico had been visiting the popular beach resort town of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. 

According to information released by Mexico’s Secretary of the Interior, the arrest was carried out without any gunfire. A six-month-long investigation carried out in conjunction with the Tamaulipas government led to the cartel leader’s capture. As Breitbart Texas reported, state authorities offered more than $110,000 USD for information leading to Flores Rico. At the same time as the reward was announced, Tamaulipas authorities also kicked off an international tip-line with the helped of federal U.S. law enforcement agencies so that individuals in Mexico can call U.S authorities to provide information, Breitbart Texas reported at the time. Since the start of the two programs, authorities have captured two out of 10 wanted cartel bosses.

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon.  You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at

Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at


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