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Cartel Code: Testimony revealed secret communications used by cartel members

September 21, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Cartel Code: Testimony revealed secret communications used by cartel members (Sun Sentinel)

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To deal drugs and move in their profits, members of Mexican drug cartels need to use ultra-secret communications in order to elude law enforcement and to stay under the radar.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent Jill Dennewitz provided insight on the secret communications used by drug traffickers during testimony against 32 drug cartel members in a money-laundering case in Chicago back in 2015.

According to Business Insider, cartel members frequently utilized blackberry messenger to communicate with one another. In one example, Carlos Parra-Pedroza, who is also known by the nickname “Walt Disney” or “Don Walt,” reportedly emailed an HSI informant a list of codes to apply while they talked.

When talking to each other, cartel members spend a lot of time discussing and planning shipment quantities and costs. Thus, they created a system of keys that corresponded with numbers.

62 = 0
83 = 1
71 = 2
49 = 3
57 = 4
66 = 5
35 = 6
21 = 7
18 = 8
96 = 9

The secret communications used by the cartel members also employed coded phrases that concerned scheduling:

I am on my way = the beer is cold
Appointment was made = it’s warm
Make an appointment = let’s go to the beach
Which day = [depends on the day]
I am on my way back = I’m with my wife
I am verifying = I have diarrhea
Ticket is complete = Mercedes
Is missing/short = hamburger
They are following me, and I have money with me = let’s go to the movie theater
It’s f—– up = I like your sister
Monday = Red
Tuesday = Yellow
Wednesday = Green
Thursday = White
Friday = Blue
Saturday = Black
Sunday = Purple

During one interaction that took place in August 2014, Para-Pedroza told the confidential informant: “The red one we’ll start with two orders … One is of 66 62 62 and the other of 96 62 62 … Let’s see if we can work all the colors. [Name redacted] and his brother goes to the beach the whole week.”

The above most likely translate to: On Monday, Looks like we’ll start with two orders: One is 500 (probably meaning $500,000) and the other one of 900 (most likely implying $900,000). Let’s see if we can pick up the narcotics proceeds every day of the week. [Name redacted] and his brother make an appointment the whole week.

The suit alleges that “Walt Disney” and his fellow cartel members laundered over $100 million in drug proceeds using these communication techniques.

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