EXCLUSIVE: Mexican Cartel Boss Using Children as Human Shields in Turf War

El Boto 1
Breitbart Texas / Cartel Chronicles

A ruthless drug cartel boss is dressing up children as self-defense members and activists. He is reportedly paying them to stand at the town entrances as human shields in an attempt to keep a rival cartel from attacking. This ruthless cartel boss is the same drug lord who previously ordered a hit on a Breitbart Texas writer and was released by the Mexican government after spending several weeks in jail.

Known in the criminal underworld as “El Boto,” Cesar Sepulveda Arellano operates with complete impunity over several parts of the Mexican state of Michoacán. Using the name Blancos de Troya, his cell is part of the Viagras-Cartel Unidos alliance that is fighting in several parts of Michoacán against Mexico’s Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion.

While the leadership of Los Viagras is open about their criminal activities, figures like “El Boto” and Juan Jose “El Abuelo” Alvarez Farias try to pass themselves off as self-defense leaders rather than drug lords in an attempt to curry international favor and sympathy.

Breitbart Texas obtained a series of exclusive photographs that show women and children gathering at the entrances of towns in the municipality of Apatzingan wearing white T-shirts with self-defense messages. Locals revealed to Breitbart Texas that “El Boto” is paying $500 pesos ($25 USD) to $1,000 pesos ($50 USD) per week for each adult male and $300 pesos ($15 USD) to $500 ($25 USD) per child that joins his self-defense group in the city. According to residents, the members are required to show up unarmed to the entrances to the city and are each given a stick to carry as a rifle and a t-shirt that says “For a Free Michoacán.” The activists are ordered to stand around in areas of potential conflict while “El Boto’s” gunmen roam the region clashing with their rivals.

There is a separate group that is tasked with stealing vehicles and setting up roadblocks in the event of any military or police raids. Since that group takes a more active role, they are paid more for their roles.

For the past two weeks, “El Boto’s” people set up numerous roadblocks in Michoacán in an effort to interfere with law enforcement operations aimed at capturing him or at seizing the heavy weaponry and armored vehicles used by both rival cartels.

In August 2018, “El Boto,” also known as Marrueco, placed a $100,000 hit on Jose Luis Lara, a writer for Cartel Chronicles and a founding member of the Self-Defense Movement in Michoacán. Less than 48 hours after the offer was extended, the Mexican Army and Navy followed an anonymous tip to a house in Morelos–where they arrested him. “El Boto” claimed Lara was a spy for the U.S. government.

After several months in jail, in April 2020, a Mexican judge ordered his release under suspicious circumstances, Breitbart Texas reported. Since then “El Boto” continued terrorizing parts of Michoacán.

Editor’s Note: Breitbart Texas traveled to the Mexican States of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and other areas to recruit citizen journalists willing to risk their lives and expose the cartels silencing their communities. Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles are published in both English and in their original Spanish. This article was written by Jose Luis Lara, a former leading member who helped start the Self-Defense Movement in Michoacán.


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