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Cartel Activity: Hyper-violent criminal organization emerges as dominant drug cartel operating in North Texas

October 20, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Cartel Activity: Hyper-violent criminal organization emerges as dominant drug cartel operating in North Texas

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Overall drug cartel activity has escalated in North Texas over the past year, and the group identified, by a suspect in an extortion scheme last week has grown to be the dominant force.

The Jalisco New Generation cartel believed to be implicated in the extortion plot also was linked to a drug bust in Dallas last month that included the discovery of a super lab that produced meth.

While cases of violence linked to cartel activity rarely take place in North Texas, the area has long been a critical distribution point with access to several main interstates.

The Sinaloa and Beltran-Leyva organizations in Mexico have had distribution cells in the state that report directly to high-ranking cartel members, according to Elaine Cesare, the Dallas DEA division spokeswoman. Remnants of the Los Caballeros Templarios, Gulf and Los Zetas cartels are also present in the northern part of the state.

The Jalisco broke off from the notorious Sinaloa cartel — which had been headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman until his apprehension and quickly grew to be one of the most powerful Mexican trafficking groups, the DEA’s annual threat assessment report revealed.

According to the Star-Telegram, the DEA has named six groups that are currently believed to be the top drug cartels. Several of their leading figures, including Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman of the Sinaloa cartel, has been apprehended in recent years.

The Jalisco cartel primarily dealt meth but is also involved in cocaine, heroin, and weed. It sneaks drugs into the U.S. through primary border crossings such as El Paso and Laredo.

The leaders of the Jalisco New Generation cartel, which has the strongest presence of all cartels in North Texas. Drug Enforcement Administration (Photo U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency)

The cartel has managed to maintain a presence because of strict adherence to dealing only with known members of the organization, making it problematic for authorities to break up cells, according to Cesare.

The bust in September took place after a federal grand jury indicted eight members of the group accused of trafficking meth and other drugs in Dallas over the past year.

The suspects obtained the drugs from a “super-lab” and used residences in Dallas and DeSoto as labs to recrystallize the meth. They are also accused of using a used car dealer as a front to distribute the drugs.

Police in North Texas also arrested Jalisco members on drug trafficking charges in 2014.

In the Fort Worth extortion case, the victim, a man from North Richland Hills, started receiving calls from an unidentified man in Mexico who said he had abducted the victim’s two brothers there. The caller demanded cash and claimed he was working with Mexican authorities and the “Jalisco cartel.”

After the victim left $20,000 at a 7-Eleven in Fort Worth, the caller gave him the location of the victim’s brothers, who had been tied up in a Mexican motel room.

A few days later, the victim received another call from the man, who demanded more ransom and told him to leave it at a Home Depot.

The victim reported the incident to authorities, who organized a controlled drop. After the victim left the money, FBI agents arrested a minor who tried to pick up the cash. The agents also took three men into custody who were in the vehicle that the juvenile was in.

The caller who said he had ties to the cartel has not been named in court records.

Lisa Slimak, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Texas, said police “have not verified the cartel claim yet.”

“It could be cartel-related,” Fred Burton, a former federal agent who is now the Chief Security Officer for Stratfor – an intelligence firm, stated. “The other explanation is, could these be criminals trying to scare people?”

Burton said that practice — non-cartel members using a cartel’s name as a scare mechanism — was standard several years ago along the border during the rise of the Zetas cartel, which is infamous for violence.

“It was common for this crime to happen in the Rio Grande Valley by the Zetas,” Burton added. “[Imposters] would call and use a similar fear tactic. It puts the fear of God in you when you hear that.”

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