Baja California cartel members Leopoldo Lizarraga Ochoa (“Polo”, “El Pantera”); Sergio Antonio Amador Plata (“El Tatu”); Heriberto Patrón (“El Chango”); Ángel Gamboa Flores (“El Sirack”); and Abraham Castaneira Barrita (“El Cochi”)
In Ensenada, the majority of the people killed between March and April 2020 were drug dealers working for the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). They were killed by assassins under Leopoldo Lizarraga Ochoa (“El Pantera” and/or “El Polo”), who heads a cell of the Sinaloa Cartel in the area. He is fighting the CJNG forces headed by Mario del Val Barocio (“Cabo 33”).
In Tijuana, most of the 130 murders committed in April were ordered or approved by the CJNG assassin squad known as Los Cabos. Their leaders are Leonardo Fabian Llamas (“Cabo 45”), Rodolfo Lopez Arellano (“Cabo 30”) and Pedro Stanley Hernandez Jelinek (“El Peter”). March, with 7.8 murder every day, was going to be the most violent month in Baja California this year. But April surpassed it with 180 murders, an average of 8.5 each day.
In total, more than 1,252 homicides have been committed in Baja California during the first six months of the administration of Governor Jaime Bonilla Valdez. In a video conference call (see below) on April 22, Bonilla Valdez said violence in Baja California was out of control. “We cannot control this situation. It has been a very bad start of the year. Although this is happening in other parts of Mexico, what worries us is Baja California”, he said.
The “Cabos” and Killings in Tijuana
Baja California state authorities learned more about the murder activities of Los Cabos in Tijuana in mid-April when they arrested Roberto Cortez Ramos, Saúl Navarro Uribe, Hugo Vázquez Pérez and Carlos López Ixtepan for murder. Investigators stated that these individuals worked as hitmen under a man known as “El Paletas” (The Lollipop).El Paletas works under Cabo 45, a direct of kingpin Jesús Alfonso Trapero Ibarra (“El Trapero”). Cabo 45 also has Álvaro Arellano Pacheco, Rubén Gámez Estrada, Alfredo Armendáriz Torres, Carlos Fierro Arámburo, Leonardo Vázquez, José Humberto Mendoza and Elena Arroyo under his command. In Tijuana, Cabo 45 is fighting against the Sinaloa Cartel forces headed by Víctor Manuel Bedolla Torres (“Don Vic”) and Marco Antonio Valdivia Melchor.
Among the most recent high-profile murders carried out by Los Cabos occurred in the evening of 18 April 2020, when Los Cabos drug dealer Juan Carlos Hernández Sánchez (“El Cejón”) went the home of Ernesto Alonso Rodríguez Fausto (“El Neto”) in Los Pinos borough in Tijuana. The day before, El Neto had beaten one of El Cejón’s dealers and El Cejon wanted a word with him.
Multiple people were gathered in El Neto’s house, including state police officer Marcos Robles Espinoza. A few minutes passed midnight, El Cejon left the house after speaking with El Neto and called his henchmen to carry out a hit. Two gunmen arrived in a vehicle with California license plates and stormed the house. They murdered El Neto’s cousin Jesús Daniel Ramos Fausto. Four other people were also wounded: Robles Espinoza, Iván Domínguez, Abraham Rivera and Danna Santos.
Murder scene where El Neto’s cousin was killed (source: Semanario Zeta)
The gunmen were arrested hours later. In their police confession, one of them said that El Cejon and El Paletas had forced them to carry out the attack. The suspect said he had about a month living in Tijuana, did not have a family or a house in the area, and that he was begging for money before El Cejon’s faction recruited him for a job. He said he was not told what the job would be.
Another gunman said that he worked for the CJNG under El Paletas. He said that they met El Paletas at an Oxxo convenience store minutes before the murder and that he handed him the guns. The gunman said they had instructions to kill El Neto and that they were promised MXN$4,000 (US$165) for the job.
The Sicario of “Cabo 30”
Another high-profile arrest occurred on 17 April 2020, when state officials detained assassin Joel David Moreno Félix. He had an outstanding warrant for murder since 29 March.
On the evening of 23 March, Moreno Félix was at a Soriana store parking lot when he shot and nearly killed Sinaloa Cartel drug dealer Rubén Ascención Cortez Hernández. The victim was shot in the head and shoulder but managed to survive. According to investigators, the motive of the attempted murder was drug-related. They said that the victim was part of the Sinaloa Cartel. Moreno Félix worked under Cabo 30 and his faction leader El Chepe.
Rodolfo López Arellano (“El Cabo 30”)
State officials stated that Cabo 30 is a high-ranking CJNG member in Tijuana and that he is wanted for murder since 6 March 2018. The case against him began when an under aged girl known as Carmen Guadalupe went to the police and confessed that she saw Cabo 30 murder Luis Zúñiga Sánchez and Edwin Osvaldo Escobar Flores at a car repair shop in Tijuana.
Cabo 30 reportedly committed the murder along with Luis Ángel Gurrola Carranza (“El Mudo”) and a man identified as “El Pitza”. The girl, however, was killed by unknown assailants on 12 October; the weapon used in her murder was linked to six previous homicides.
The Return of “El Peter”
On May 2016, Pedro Stanley Herrera Jelinek (“El Peter”) was arrested with weapons and drugs. Intelligence reports identified him as a high-ranking CJNG member responsible for supervising drugs in the Tecate area that arrived from airplanes from southern Mexico. He was also linked to various murders in Tijuana. While in custody, El Peter testified against several of his associates.
In late 2018, El Peter was released from prison and resumed his organized crime activities. He is reportedly responsible for leading a CJNG faction in Playas de Tijuana borough, from Laureles to El Jibarito neighborhood. Sinaloans Killing CJNG Members in Ensenada State authorities confirmed to Zeta news magazine that the majority of the killings in Ensenada are carried out by the Sinaloa Cartel. They are murdering CJNG members. The masterminds of the killings are Sinaloa Cartel operators “El Sirak”, “El Chango”, “El Tatú” and “El Cochi”. They report to René Arzate García (“La Rana”). Investigators suspect that these Sinaloa Cartel members have the support of corrupt members from the Ensenada Municipal Police and the Baja California State Police. They said that this has compromised their ability to capture them. These Sinaloa Cartel hitmen were brought to the spotlight on 20 April, when members of the CJNG headed by Cabo 33 erected a banner (narcomanta) with a message to them.
The banner erected by CJNG members in Ensenada, blaming the Sinaloans for indiscriminate murders
“This goes to all the leeches who work for Aquiles and La Rana, and to all those abusive idiots who kill innocent people and follow orders from you, Heriberto Patrón González, and your group of idiots like (ineligible) Flakito. Stop killing innocent people with the support of North Zone commander David Ochoa. We killed those in charge of the turf so you can calm the fuck down. We know where you are. We don’t want this turf, we just want Ensenada to turn to how it was before.
Sincerely, Ensenada New Generation Cartel.”
The Ensenada New Generation Cartel is a branch of the CJNG in Ensenada. According to state authorities, the death threats in the banner above were sent to the Sinaloa Cartel criminal cells commanded by:
Leopoldo Lizarraga (“El Pantera” and/or “El Polo”): He started as a vehicle thief in 2012 in Sinaloa. He then started selling drugs for the Sinaloa Cartel in Baja California under José Alberto Arce Guillén (“El Tigre”) and/or (“El Brusco”), who was arrested for homicide in 2016. Under El Pantera/El Polo are the following hitmen: Luis Ángel Gamboa Reyes (“El Sirak”): He is 30 years old and reports to a man named “El Puma”. In September 2015, he was arrested in Ensenada for selling crystal meth and heroin along with Luis García Arvizu. El Sirak is currently responsible for distributing drugs and coordinating “settling of scores” in the turf. Heriberto Patrón González (“El Chango”): He was mentioned in the banner cited above. In 2016, he was arrested by the state police for being in possession of 28 grams of methamphetamine. Investigators stated that this amount was enough to sell at least 280 doses. Sergio Antonio Amador Platas (“Tatú”): In March 2015, he was arrested in Ensenada for being in possession of 310 doses of crystal meth. Abraham Castaneyra (“El Cochi”): He is identified as a hitman since February 2019 after the murder of Ensenada-based Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Alfonso Niebla Vega (“El 90”). David Ochoa: He is an agent of the Ensenada Municipal Police force and was mentioned in the banner as a Sinaloa Cartel collaborator. Source:Zeta Tijuana