Thursday, November 30, 2023

Gang leader still on the run but officials say he has no resources left

The leader of a fuel theft gang believed to be responsible for much of the violence plaguing Guanajuato remains on the run but he has no resources to fund his criminal activities, according to federal and state authorities.

Government sources told the newspaper Milenio that the bank accounts of Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel leader José Antonio “El Marro” Yépez Ortiz are frozen, undermining his capacity to bribe authorities, pay other gang members and buy the loyalty of people in different parts of the state.

The federal Financial Intelligence Unit has blocked accounts held by Yépez or people linked to him. They contain nearly 35.5 million pesos (US $1.85 million).

Authorities said the joint federal and state government operation launched in March against the Santa Rosa gang and its leader is ongoing, and that by intercepting cartel communications they have confirmed that key members have deserted, leaving “El Marro” isolated and vulnerable.

A total of 62 people involved with the cartel – including a municipal police officer in Irapuato who provided intelligence – have been arrested since the operation began and one gang member was killed in a confrontation with federal forces last month.

El Marro continues to elude capture.
El Marro continues to elude capture.

Authorities have seized 14 properties, 129 vehicles — including several luxury cars and a fuel truck, close to 50 weapons, ammunition, bullet-proof vests, jewelry, drugs and cash, among other items, from the cartel.

A luxury home seized in March in the municipality of Villagrán with extensive gardens, a large swimming pool and two stone lion statues is believed to have been Yépez’s personal residence, while later the same week another similar home was secured.

The former property is now being used as barracks for the National Guard.

Other homes have been seized in Comonfort and Celaya. Behind one property in the former municipality, authorities discovered buried barrels containing human remains and weapons.

Authorities also reported that nine kidnapping victims have been rescued during its operation, some of whom are believed to be members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which is engaged in a turf war in Guanajuato with the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel.

One of the kidnapping victims was a former police officer from Juventino Rosas while another was an active officer from Uriangato.

Yépez has been sought by authorities since 2008 on charges of fuel theft and organized crime. He became the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel leader in 2017, according to a report published today in Milenio.

In January, a narco-banner allegedly signed by Yépez appeared in Salamanca warning President López Obrador to remove security forces from Guanajuato or innocent people would die.

Explosives, referred to in the narcomanta as a “little gift,” were also left inside a vehicle parked in front of the Salamanca oil refinery but were removed by the army before they detonated.

Pemex CEO Octavio Romero said last month that fuel theft in Guanajuato had declined 93% since the government took office last December but the state remains Mexico’s most violent.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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