EXCLUSIVE: FBI Fugitive Linked to Money Laundering, Extortion in Mexican Border State

El Gato
Breitbart Border / Cartel Chronicles

A Mexican drug lord on the FBI’s Most-Wanted fugitives list is wanted for ordering a cartel hit in Texas. He currently controls a powerful money laundering and extortion operation in one of the most exclusive suburbs in the border state of Nuevo Leon.

Despite being wanted by U.S. authorities, local officials in that suburb ignored the criminal activities and murders carried out by the drug lord and his organization.

The ritzy suburb of San Pedro in the border state of Nuevo Leon continues to be the basis of operations for Jose Rodolfo “El Gato” Villarreal Hernandez. The fugitive is a former Mexican federal cop turned top lieutenant for the Beltran Leyva Cartel. He later broke off and established an independent organization. As Breitbart Texas reported, the FBI recently added El Gato to their list of most wanted fugitives in connection with a 2013 cartel execution in Southlake Texas.

In San Pedro, operatives working for El Gato carried out several murders while working to control their moneymaking operations. In September, El Gato’s men lured 27-year-old, Adrian Elizondo Reyna, out of his home to a meeting where they shot him several times before fleeing, a U.S. law enforcement source who works in Mexico revealed. The victim died inside a white Chevrolet Traxx with Nuevo Leon license plates SGB-685-A.

Initially, authorities believed that the murder could be tied to the Gulf Cartel since Elizondo’s father and brother, Alberto Elizondo Sepúlveda y Alberto Elizondo Reyna, were arrested in 2009 in connection with a Gulf Cartel cell. The cell operated in the suburb of Santiago.

The victim’s father has previously worked as a supervisor with the Nuevo Leon State Police. However, authorities shifted their investigation into the organization run by El Gato and their money-laundering operations to which the victim has been linked.

Authorities also linked El Gato’s organization to the 2018 murder of attorney Alberto Peña Velez. The attorney was part of a large money laundering group that worked for politicians and cartels. That murder was carried out by former San Pedro police officer César Augusto Espinoza Lira. The former Mexican cop confessed to the hit and told authorities the victim laundered money through the use of shell companies and false invoices but had refused to pay the fees or royalties demanded by El Gato, the law enforcement source revealed.

In September, the NGO Contra La Corrupcion published an investigation into a series of shell companies in Monterrey that reportedly laundered money for Los Zetas, various politicians, and businessmen through the use of stolen personal information from older adults. Peña Velez was one of the main operators within that group.

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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