Nogales or La Nogalera

By Buggs for Borderland Beat

Some people had been asking me about Nogales, who is in charge, why so calm, is the conflict in the state of Sonora trying to reach Nogales. Who are the players?

Let’s talk Nogales.

Nogales, Sonora is considered one of the greatest doors in the border for the shipment of illicit drugs to the United States. Nogales was also considered in it’s time as the “city of tunnels” for the large number of tunnel seizures used to cross dope to the united states. The Sinaloa cartel was responsible for funding, directing and building these tunnels in the Sonora border.

The city has been linked to some of  the biggest drug traffickers in the Mexican narco history, mainly from the Sinaloa cartel, specially during the great heyday of the 1980s and 1990s of the famous Guadalajara cartel that was led by Miguel Ángel Felix Gallardo, Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo. After the distribution of plazas made by the Guadalajara cartel, Emilio Quintero Payan was sent to the city of Nogales as head of the plaza for the Guadalajara cartel.

Emilio Quintero Payan was brother of the famous Lamberto Quintero Payan who was uncle of Rafael Caro Quintero and father of Emilio Quintero Navidad “El Cadete.” After the arrests of Felix Gallardo, Ernesto Fonseca and Rafael Caro Quintero, the Guadalajara cartel, the leadership fell to Emilio Quintero Payan who protected the people of El Chapo Guzman and El Güero Palma as well as his lieutenants the Beltran Leyva brothers who were helping Sinaloa and Jalisco.

The Guadalajara cartel was divided into smaller cartels located in different plazas, that gave birth to the cartel we now now such as, Sinaloa, Juarez and Tijuana cartels, etc. . .

Emilio Quintero Payan
Emilio Quintero ran the city of Nogales until his death in 1993 in the state of Mexico. He was shot to death in a confused confrontation with police, Payan’s death was a hard blow to the drug trafficking business.

After Emilio’s death came the arrest of El Chapo Guzman in Guatemala, as he was hiding there, after the confrontation against his people from the Arellanos Felix. They attempted to execute El Chapo at the Guadalajara airport, but they managed to execute the Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo by mistake.

The Beltran Leyva brothers continued to be active within the organization of Amado Carrillo Fuentes and along with Mayo Zambada, they financed the legal defense of El Chapo Guzman. Things remained like this until the escape of El Chapo from Puente Grande in 2001. The Sinaloa cartel then resumed power with great force and they position themselves as the largest cartel in Mexico that trafficking drugs.

El Mayo Zambada transported shipments of drugs inside train cars, they originated from Sinaloa, using the extensive railway lines that pass through Nogales, Sonora, that eventually would end up in cities of Arizona, like Tucson and Phoenix.

During 2004 and 2005 the Beltran Leyva brothers were sent to Sonora to expand the Sinaloa organization. Arturo Beltran Leyva “El Barbas” and Alfredo Beltran Leyva “El Mochomo” formed relationships in the cities of Nogales, Agua Prieta, city Obregón, Navojoa and Hermosillo for the trafficking of drugs, as well as forming groups of sicarios to keep rivals out of the cartel’s operations.

The groups under the Beltran Leyva brothers, who themselves were lieutenants of El Chapo Guzman, consisted of Los Numeros or the Enriquez Parra group, Los Jabalís, Los Salazars, Los Paredes and some others. These groups spread all over the Sonoran territory.

During the next few years the Sonoran state experienced a wave of drug-related violence, the groups were at war for territories all associated with the Sinaloa cartel. The direction of these groups within the state changed dramatically after the arrest of Alfredo Beltran Leyva El Mochomo. In January 2008, this created the war between the Beltran Leyva brothers against their cousin El Chapo Guzman, all that have been associates to the Sinaloa cartel.

Alfredo Beltran Leyva El Mochomo
The war reached the city of Nogales, where strong confrontations took place, the cells of sicarios belonging to the Beltran Leyva brothers arrived in the city and called themselves “La Mochomera” led by Jesus Eleazar Castro Castro “El 11.”

The city plunged into a wave of violence, registering 116 war-related murders of the Sinaloa cartel vs. Beltran Leyva brothers in 2008, the year of Alfredo’s arrest.

An incident that was significant in the conflict was the execution of Commander Juan Manuel Pavon Felix, head of the State Security Police. The commander was arriving at his base of operations located in the Marques Hotel when he was caught by sicarios who fired gunfire with high caliber weapons and launched grenades, causing the commander’s death.

The reason for the execution was motivated from the commander’s coordinating the operations in the city that led to the arrest of a convoy belonging to the Beltran Leyva brothers, as well as seizures of drugs belonging to the organization. It is also said that in 2007 the commander had repelled an attack from a convoy full of sicarios who had attacked the city of Cananea led by a lieutenant of the Beltran Leyva supported by the Zetas of Tamaulipas.

That same year and months later, Jesus Elezar Castro Castro El 11 was arrested after an intense shootout in the Kennedy neighborhood of Nogales. El 11 had been responsible for the death of Commander Pavon Felix. It was said that the intensity of the shootout was so great that it caused officers to run out of ammunition. They were resupplied after being supported by military forces.

In 2009, after a confrontation, they detained a cell leader from the Beltran Leyva along with 8 other sicarios, Cesar Alberto Escarrega Rodriguez in the Colonia Unit 2 in Nogales.

During the arrest and interrogation statement of Jose Paulino Vasquez Villagrana, leader of Los Jabalís in Sonora, he confessed on how in November 2009 in the city of Obregón, Sonora, the leaders of the region were called to a meeting. The objective was to coordinate operations to remove the people of the Beltran Leyva in the city of Nogales that was led by Arnoldo del Cid Buelna “El M4” or “Gilo” and people of “El Tigre.” The meeting was called by Alfredo Salazar “El Justiciero” or “El Alfa” and was attended by Jabalí of Magdalena, El Negro Sabori of Caborca, El Paletero of Caborca, Edgar Resendiz Holguin El Navajas of Nogales, Ernesto Bernal El Caras of Nogales and Marcos Paredes of Agua Prieta, all that formed part of Gente Nueva.

They all decided that the person in charge of cleaning the people of the Beltran Leyva in Agua Prieta, Nogales, Santa Ana, Tubutama was to be El Jabalí by orders of Alfredo Salazar.

A protected witness of the extinct PGR gave testimony how on December 16 or 20, 2009 they left Santa Ana in a convoy of around 20 trucks, carrying 5 to 6 sicarios in each truck headed to Nogales. In this operation they were led by El Jabalí and El Negro Sabori supported by El Gigio, was under the command Mayo Zambada. “We went to go bust several houses belonging to the people of Los Zetas and the Beltran clan. While arriving in Nogales, the trucks dispersed, there were several clashes in several places, that resulted in the death of several Zetas and the abduction of several others that were later executed. We had returned to Santa Ana but we returned to Nogales at night fall. Again there were more clashes and more deaths of the Zetas and Beltranes. There were three days of intense fighting but at the end, the plaza was finally retaken.”

This coupled with the death of Arturo Beltran Leyva “El Barbas” at the hands of the Mexican Marines in an operation in Cuernavaca, Morelos, the Sinaloa Cartel retook control of the city of Nogales and put an end to the hold of the Beltrans in the city.

Shootout in Tubatama Sonora

The group of La Gente Nueva received a hard blow after the death of Navajas in 2010 in Tubutama after a confrontation against the forces of El Gilo del Cid. Later they arrested El Caras in Agua Prieta who was responsible for the plaza in Nogales for El Chapo Guzmán.

In 2011, Manuel de Jesus Palma Morquecho “El Macario” is arrested in Agua Prieta by the military. He was presented as leader of the Sinaloa cartel in the cities of Agua Prieta and Nogales for El Chapo Guzman.

in 2012 Arnoldo del Cid Buelna “El Gilo” or “M4” was executed in Saric, ending the last support of the Beltran Leyva in Nogales. After the expulsion of the Beltran Leyva, El Gilo ended up in the city of Tubutama, from where he directed attacks against La Gente Nueva of the sinaloa cartel.

During the following years, the trafficking of drugs, settling of scores and the building of tunnels marked the activities of crime in Nogales.

The city saw an upturn in seizures of the drug called crystal in the border port, this caused the plaza to heat up due to the sale of these drugs that were prohibited by the cartel, the settling of scores was swift. In the light of day the abductions of people were found tortured or simply disappeared.

In of May 2013, the United States Department of the Treasury designated Felipe de Jesus Sosa Canizales “El Gigio” in charge of the plaza in Nogales for Mayo Zambada and was added to the list of drug traffickers in which they warn American citizens to refrain from conducting business with him under threats of sanctions.

In November 2013, Serafin Zambada Ortiz, son of Mayo Zambada, was arrested. Zambada Ortiz was detained trying to cross into Nogales, Arizona by DEA agents. Serafin was born in the United States and had been crossing several times a year until he was listed as a collaborator of the Sinaloa cartel He entered from Nogales and Naco in to the United States.

In 2014 Edgar Omar Amaya Ruiz “El 7” was executed, he was a representative of El Chapo in Nogales. He sent to the city of Mexicali by El Chapo Guzman to settle accounts after the fight between Manuel Torres Felix and Gonzalo Inzunza Inzunza “El Macho Prieto,” to answer for the death of Paulo Osorio Payan in Puerto Peñasco.

El Macho Prieto supervised Felipe de Jesus Sosa Canizales El Gigio in the drug trafficking business to the United States in Nogales.

The city of Nogales is divided into two, one part of the city are the people of El Chapo Guzman, now Los Chapitos/his sons, and on the other side of the city are the people of Mayo Zambada.

The group of Los Demonios, with their leaders “El J3” and “El Chango” who have been already arrested, were part of the Mayo group, one member is still active known as “El 50.” Also the death of “El Camello” part the group of “20” died at the hands of the municipal police. all of them were led by Felipe de Jesus Sosa Canizales “El Gigio” or “El del Sombrero.”

On the side of El Chapo or Chapitos is a drug trafficker nicknamed “El 5” associated with the Salazar de Navojoa.

“El JJ” collaborator of El Gigio was found executed in front of the chapel of “la santa muerte’ in Nogales, next to the body of “Chapo 13” with a narco-message that said “the cleansing of rats/JJ has began.” The death was attributed to “El 5” collaborator of the Salazars in Nogales.

Today the city is in a relative calm after the violent events that occurred around it, the fracture and the war between the factions of the Chapitos against the Mayo Zambada hs not not touched Nogales yet, although the boss of the plaza is embroiled in the confrontations.

El Gigio or El del Sombrero together with his brother El 20 maintains an intense fight against the “El Cazador” or “Noveno” in attempts to maintain a new order within control of the plaza of Sonora.

This was recorded recently near Magdalena de Kino, right before they executed the former mayor Alfonso Robles. They have been identified as members belonging to Leonardo Lopez El 20 or El Nayo of Nogales and Felipe de Jesus Sosa Canizales El Yiyo. In the background you can hear the narcocorrio dedicated to El 20.