Sunday, April 29, 2012

Los Pelones killer arrested in Cancún also may have been hit man for Los Matazetas

Sicario played for two teams, with his sights always set on one target: Los Zetas

Cancún, Quintana Roo --
A local sicario (executioner) who worked for two of the three major organized crime groups operating in Quintana Roo state has been arrested in Cancún. Police say that Jaime Pacheco Salas a/k/a El Pescado ("The Fish"), taken into custody last week, is responsible for eight or more executions in the city this year, and others in 2011. In some of the cases the victims were decapitated and/or dismembered by persons pressed into service by Salas, including two underage females.

Salas is described in some local press reports as a contract killer for Los Pelones, and in others as an operative for Los Matazetas. It's unclear where his allegiance lays. But what is undisputed is that all of his targets were members of yet a third organization, Los Zetas.

Los Zetas, a Mexican drug cartel which operates both nationally and in the United States, remains the dominant criminal enterprise in Quintana Roo and controls the narcotics trade in Cancún's hotel zone. Los Pelones began as a murder-for-hire gang, but morphed into street drug dealing, kidnapping and local extortion. They don't enjoy the national name recognition and power of the Los Zetas, but they rival them for violence. The groups have clashed repeatedly in recent months over control of sales territories, leaving a bloody trail of victims which Quintana Roo authorities refer to as an "adjustment of accounts."

Earlier this month a third group arrived on the scene, the dreaded Matazetas, or Zeta killers, who first appeared in Veracruz in 2011 with the stated goal of eliminating Zetas wherever they might be found. There is evidence that Los Pelones may have forged a temporary alliance (or at least a brief truce) with Los Matazetas, to confront their common enemy in Quintana Roo and the bustling resort of Cancún, which is often called the "jewel of Caribbean narcotics trafficking." Under the arrangement, Los Pelones would be allowed to retain a share of local drug markets if they agreed to recognize the authority of and pay homage to Los Matazetas and the man for whom they work in Q.R.: El Chapo Guzmán, the wealthiest and most powerful narcotics trafficker in the world. (50 Matazetas in Cancún to "control the plaza" for Guzmán:

Guzmán's goal is allegedly to eliminate the Zeta presence along Mexico's lush Caribbean coast, an area commonly known as the Rivera Maya, and to capture the drug trade there for his own Sinaloa Cartel, which the U.S. government says ships more narcotics into the country than any other organization. According to recent reports in Quitana Roo, Guzmán has contracted the "clean up" job to Los Matazetas, who are also known as the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG). The Mexican government says that Los Matazetas are just another crime gang, and not vigilantes or "avengers" as they have claimed in videos posted to public web sites:

Guzmán has also purportedly directed Los Matazetas to put Los Pelones "in their place" -- that is, to let the much smaller local group know who is "in charge of the plaza" in Cancún. The expression refers to drug sales and criminal activity generally in a particular territory. But the Pelones may be permitted to remain in existence and to work with the Matazetas in certain designated areas, such as Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos and Isla de Mujeres.

The arrests of Jaime Pacheco Salas and several confederates took place in Cancún last Wednesday (Apr. 25). Two underage females, who are apparently girlfriends of the men, were also taken into custody, one of them with her two year old daughter. The young women were turned over to state juvenile authorities. One told police that she was in charge of dismembering bodies and then cleaning up the execution site afterwards.

Two other women, both prostitutes, were being held as kidnap victims by the small band of killers when the arrests were made. The prostitutes are said to be the girlfriends of local Zeta members. The underage females told police that they had been instructed to extract as much information as possible from the prostitutes about Los Zeta activities -- by torture if necessary -- and then suffocate them and cut their bodies into "little pieces." Victims of Mexican narco violence are frequently found asphyxiated, with their heads in plastic bags. In addition to the murders, Salas also has been charged with raping one of the prostitutes.

Military grade assault weapons were seized during the arrests, including AK-47s and AR-15s, as well as .223 y .9 mm cartridges. All are commonly used by narcotics traffickers.

Cancún authorities say that April has been the worst month of 2012 thus far for organized crime executions and narco violence.

Apr. 17 - Los Matazetas - the "Zeta killers" - may have arrived in Cancún
May 7 - Eliminar a "Zetas," la consigna
May 29 - Se llevan a cuadrilla de "Pelones"
Aug. 2 - Cancún authorities report that the war between Los Pelones and Los Zetas has left at least 175 dead in Quintana Roo since 2007, most of them since 2010

Salas and his associates are responsible for these murders and more, say Cancún police:
Los Matazetas - the "Zeta killers" - may have arrived in Cancún
AK-47 attack leaves two dead in Cancún; both worked for Los Zetas:
Cancún police fear latest execution victims could be their own:
Execution in Cancún hotel zone:
Cancún narco violence claims fifth victim in 2012:
Brutalized bodies of two men found in Cancún - one a Yucatán native:
Decapitation in Cancún, Quintana Roo:

Related stories:
Los Zetas executioner arrested near Hotel Oasis Cancún:
Chapo Guzmán indicted by feds in El Paso:

Jaime Pacheco Salas and three men arrested with him in Cancún on April 25. All remain in custody awaiting further legal proceedings. Two female minors detained with them have been turned over to juvenile authorities.


  1. What happens to these people after they are arrested in Mexico? What are the punishments for executing 6 people or cutting murder victims up into little pieces?

  2. There is no death penalty in Mexico. So no matter what you've done a prison sentence is the worst awaiting you. Moreover, 60 years is the max which can be handed out (a life sentence for all practical purposes). Parole, or conditional release as it's known north of the border, doesn't really exist here. Mexico has got a bunch of people under lock and key (just like the U.S. does). The cost of maintaining all those folks must be enormous -- but what else can be done? They're far too dangerous to be released anytime soon, and the idea of rehabilitation for most narco terrorists is pure sophistry.

    In this case I presume that the underage women will be dealt with much more lightly, as they probably should be.

    In the final analysis those who break the law have to answer for their conduct. But in the case of Mexico, entire generations of public officials and politicians are responsible for what goes on here everyday. This country remains a seedbed of corruption, from top to bottom; weeding it out will take decades. And my own opinion is that most people who are comfortably situated (economically) are not too terribly worried about the 50% of the nation which is not. Of course you could make the latter argument about almost any country.

    But I do strongly agree with what PRD candidate Lopez Obrador says almost every day on the campaign trail: behind the horrible crime is the lack of economic opportunity, the lack of jobs, the complete lack of hope. I'm not sure that all four candidates working together would be up to the herculean task of changing it all, especially in this bitterly divided political atmosphere.