Old Juarez cartel closing in on ‘The Jaguar,’ Sinaloa cartel rivals

Border Crime

Recent drug massacre linked to La Linea push to regain drug-staging areas between Arizona and New Mexico

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The brother and a nephew of a Sinaloa cartel leader are among the victims of a shooting that left 19 people dead last week in a town near the Chihuahua-Sonora border, Mexican authorities confirmed.

The two were identified as Uriel Arvizu Ponce and Marco Antonio Arvizu Márquez, the latter a brother of Francisco Arvizu Marquez, a.k.a. “The Jaguar,” who according to U.S. intelligence analysts heads the Gente Nueva cell of the Sinaloa cartel in western Chihuahua.

A week after the shooting, some 300 state police officers remain in the area to maintain the peace, a state police spokesman told Border Report.

The shooting, described as an ambush in which a caravan of pickups and SUVs was shot at from multiple angles by up to 40 men with assault weapons, is part of a months-long struggle that has left more than 100 people dead around the town of Madera, analysts say.

“From what I hear it was Gente Nueva being ambushed by La Linea. They got hammered again,” said Scott Stewart, vicepresident of tactical analysis for Stratfor, an Austin-based geopolitical intelligence group.

La Linea is what remains of the old Juarez cartel, which was wiped out in the late 2000s when the Sinaloa cartel took control of most drug-trafficking in Mexico. The Juarez cartel was once the dominant criminal organization in Mexico, led by Amado Carrillo Fuentes, a.k.a “The Lord of the Skies” for his fleet of old Boeing 727 he used to ferry drugs from Colombia to Mexico for distribution in the United States. Carrillo died in 1997.

The current struggle has implications for U.S. law enforcement, as Madera is a corridor for drugs coming from the interior of Mexico and headed for staging areas into the United States at Janos and Ascencion, Chihuahua, south of New Mexico, and Agua Prieta, Sonora, south of Douglas, Arizona.

Madera, Chihuahua is a strategic town for the Mexican drug cartels, as it leads to drug staging areas into the United States between Nogales, Arizona, and El Paso, Texas.

This feud is what led to the massacre of nine American citizens who were traveling in caravan last November near the Chihuahua-Sonora border. According to Mexican authorities, La Linea gunmen mistook their vehicles for a convoy of the Sinaloa cartel cell known as Los Salazar, which controls the Agua Prieta region

Stewart says La Linea has been winning the war in the Chihuahua countryside since killing off the previous Gente Nueva leader, a drug trafficker known as “The Tiger,” and receiving weapons and monetary support from the Cartel Jalisco New Generation.

The Jalisco cartel is quickly becoming the most dangerous drug trafficking organization in Mexico, and is trying to secure mastery of border drug-staging areas by supporting La Linea in Juarez and Los Metros in Reynosa, in their fight against the Sinaloa cartel and the Gulf cartel, Stratfor and other experts have told border report.

Experts expect the bloodshed in Chihuahua to continue, as The Jaguar has now become the No. 1 target of La Linea.

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