EXCLUSIVE: Drug Lord Controlling Mexican Border State Prison Unmasked

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Breitbart Texas / Cartel Chronicles

MONTERREY, Nuevo Leon – A new chapter in the turf war for control of the Monterrey metropolitan area is brewing as one of Mexico’s most violent cartels sets sights on a powerful drug lord sitting in a local prison.

Breitbart Texas consulted with U.S. law enforcement sources in Mexico who revealed exclusive intelligence about Joel Rodolfo “El Rodo” Ramones Barba and associates. The sources say El Rodo receives protection from corrupt officials in Nuevo Leon, allowing him to operate his organization from within the Apodaca prison.

Initially, El Rodo was a low-ranking member of the Gulf Cartel when authorities arrested and sent him to the Cadereyta state prison. El Rodo began to work with corrupt officials and established his own group to take control of the detention center. Officials then transferred him to Apodaca, where he still operates. El Rodo runs an extensive extortion and protection racket while outside henchmen fight for drug turf around Monterrey, law enforcement sources say.

El Rodo previously established a truce with the Cartel Del Noreste (CDN) faction of Los Zetas–bitter rivals of his old associates in the Gulf Cartel. The CDN relationship has since dissolved.

Defense attorneys for El Rodo are filing appeals to get their client released from prison. While the legal strategy has had measured successes, El Rodo is still waiting to go to trial on federal charges related to drug trafficking.

Earlier this year, the CDN-Los Zetas began to post banners around the Monterrey area outing El Rodo and the protection he allegedly receives from officials.

In March, El Rodo’s men carried out a brazen attack against municipal police in the suburb of Escobedo. His gunmen wore cloned police uniforms from the Nuevo Leon State Investigations Agency. Authorities later arrested four gunmen who were trying to target a rival independent organization.

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and senior Breitbart management. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com

Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and senior Breitbart management. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at bdarby@breitbart.com.     

Tony Aranda from Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project contributed to this report

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