U.S. and Mexican authorities collaborate to find Gulf Cartel faction boss ‘El Vaquero’

 “MX” for Borderland Beat

Evaristo Cruz Sanchez (“El Vaquero”, The Cowboy)

Authorities in South Texas and Tamaulipas announced yesterday that they are joining efforts to capture Evaristo Cruz Sanchez (‘El Vaquero’, The Cowboy), a high-ranking Gulf Cartel faction boss.

This collaboration is part of the Se Busca Informacion (Seeking Information) Initiative, a bi-national law enforcement program that has yielded important arrests since it was launched in the Rio Grande Valley and Tamaulipas in 2016. Billboards displaying mugshots can be found at the legal ports of entry and at the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints. These billboards are aimed at obtaining anonymous information on the suspects, potentially leading to a successful prosecution.

In early 2019, Borderland Beat reported that the Government of Tamaulipas issued a MXN$2 million bounty (approximately US$85,000 at that time) to anyone that provided valuable information that led to El Vaquero’s arrest. He was wanted for extortion, kidnapping and organized crime involvement in Mexico. 


El Vaquero is a high-ranking cartel member who had ties to the Matamoros faction. He is also known by his alias Ciclon 46, in reference to the local faction Los Ciclones. Since mid-2019, Borderland Beat forum contributors noted that El Vaquero was vying for the control of Matamoros. His main rival is Mario Alberto Cárdenas Medina (‘El Betito’), another local cartel boss.

El Betito was arrested in 2019 but continued to fight El Vaquero for control of Matamoros by siding with local plaza boss Raul Garcia Martinez (‘Escorpion 2’) and by working through envoys like the recently-released kingpin Víctor Manuel Vázquez Mireles (‘El Meme Loco’), as reported by Borderland Beat.

In efforts to improve his public image, El Vaquero launched a social media campaign to portray himself in a positive light. During the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico, El Vaquero gained international headlines for handing out food and supplies in Matamoros and Ciudad Victoria. Borderland Beat reported that among the supplies provided included non-perishable goods like beans, rice, cooking oil, cookies, soups, coffee, condensed milk, tuna, cereal and other basic food items.

Recent events

A day before this announcement, taxi drivers and bus drivers blocked several roads in Matamoros, including one that leads to the Gateway International Bridge. They claimed to be holding a peaceful protest, but unnamed U.S. officials stated that the protesters were organized by El Vaquero after Tamaulipas Governor Francisco Javier García Cabeza de Vaca ordered Mexico’s drug task force to crack down on cartel violence in Matamoros.

Matamoros has been on the national spotlight in recent weeks due to several high-profile incidents. Last month, Borderland Beat reported the murder of Lizbeth Flores, a U.S. citizen who went missing in Matamoros and was then found dead near a public library; she was stripped naked by her assassins and had all her teeth pulled out.

A narco-tunnel was discovered in a neighborhood close to the border with Brownsville a few weeks later, as reported by Borderland Beat.

Sources: Milenio; La Silla Rota; Borderland Beat archives