The fall of "El Marro": blow to organized crime leader

On Sunday, the governor of Guanajuato, via his Twitter account, reported the arrest of José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, alias "El Marro," the alleged criminal leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel.

The fall of "El Marro": blow to organized crime leader
El Marro: In the early hours of Sunday morning, José Antonio "Y", the alleged leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, was captured in Guanajuato. Photo: Guanajuato State Attorney General's Office

This Sunday, the governor of Guanajuato, through his Twitter account, reported that José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, alias "El Marro", alleged criminal leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, was arrested. "I want to inform you that this morning in a joint operation between State and Federal Forces the main leader of a criminal group operating in the Laja-Bajío region of the State of Guanajuato was arrested," he wrote in social networks.

Public Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo later confirmed the capture of the criminal through social networks. Durazo Montaño explained that after "the legal formalities are completed, he will be transferred to the CEFERESO in the Altiplano to be placed at the disposal of the federal judge who issued the arrest warrant for organized crime and fuel theft," the security secretary wrote.

Guanajuato is the state that leads the list of malicious homicides in the country, concentrating up to 18% of the murders that occur daily in Mexico. The Ministry of National Defense (Sedena) provided details of the operation that led to the capture of José Antonio "Y," alias "El Marro," the alleged leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel.

In a statement, the Mexican army said that its security chief was arrested along with El Marro and four other suspected members of the group.

"As a result of intelligence activities by the Mexican state, members of the criminal group were located in two buildings in the municipality of Santa Cruz de Juventino Rosas, Gto., having obtained a search warrant issued by the competent judicial authority, and with strict adherence to the rule of law proceeded to the completion of the judicial mandate, with the following results:

In a building, the probable leader of the C.S.R.L. was detained, who was accompanied by Saulo Sergio "N", alias "Cebollo", supposed head of security, and four other elements of that criminal organization, who were assured of the following. Five long weapons, three short weapons, a grenade launcher, a vehicle (pickup truck), an ATV and a motorcycle, a suitcase with numbers (pending confirmation of the number), the text says.

The final blow of the operation "Golpe de Timón", took place this morning. This operation was implemented more than a year ago as a result of the violence generated by the New Generation Jalisco Cartel (CJNG) and the CSRL in their dispute over Guanajuato.

The operation, led by elements of the Sedena, and security forces of Guanajuato, began on March 3, 2019, in Villagrán. Although over the months, due to the displacement of "El Marro", the operations were extended to other municipalities in Guanajuato, such as Cortázar.

"El Marro" managed to escape from Santa Rosa de Lima and elude the operation in March 2019, when more than a thousand elements from the Navy, Gendarmerie, State Forces, criminal investigation agents from the State Prosecutor's Office, and tactical groups participated in its search.

But not only that, he also evaded subsequent capture attempts in October and November 2019, and January and March 2020. But to date, hundreds of cartel members have been arrested, more than 20 properties and almost 100 vehicles have been seized, and around 330 accounts have been blocked by the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit.

During the various operations, fuel transport vehicles such as pipe-type trucks have also been requisitioned. "El Marro" belonged to the Los Zetas Cartel and although he was arrested in 2008 for the crimes of theft and organized crime, he was soon released for lack of due process.

After his release, he led a cell of criminals who were stealing fuel from Pemex's pipelines, an activity known as "huachicoleo". Over time, this cell became a powerful organization called the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, with control of Guanajuato due to the networks of corruption and the communities that protect them.

"The situation in Guanajuato became very serious. (The Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel) It has a presence because it allowed itself to grow, it did not attend to itself in time, and that is even why it has a social base. Now that there have been arrests, many are linked because they were paid, there were payrolls to create an organization, they have bases in each municipality, it is a matter that comes from behind and was not attended to," explained López Obrador on various occasions.

But Mexico's most powerful criminal organization, the New Generation Jalisco Cartel (CJNG), also seeks control of Guanajuato and the million-dollar business of fuel theft.