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Cartel boss El Marro. Cartel boss El Marro.

Known for stealing oil, Guanajuato cartel has moved into cocaine

Gang leader José Antonio “El Marro” Yépez is now wanted by the DEA

The Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, a fuel theft and extortion gang from Guanajuato, has moved into cocaine trafficking and its leader, José Antonio “El Marro” Yépez Ortiz, is now wanted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Former DEA chief of international operations Mike Vigil said that although the cartel is well-known for its illegal trafficking of petroleum products, it also sells other illicit goods, “mainly cocaine.”

Vigil told the newspaper Milenio that El Marro is a big target for the DEA, even though the gang he leads isn’t as large as other more notable criminal organizations, and said he believed that the walls are closing in on the fugitive kingpin.

A number of family members close to El Marro have been arrested recently. His father was nabbed in Guanajuato in early March, and his niece was detained on weapons charges in February.

El Marro’s wife was arrested in January, although she was released soon afterward, and his sister was assassinated with her groom at their wedding in that same month.

With so much pressure on El Marro from both the Mexican government and the DEA, Vigil says it’s only a matter of time before he is brought in.

“I believe that El Marro is well-hidden because the government is on his trail,” said Vigil.

As for the violence that has erupted in Guanajuato and neighboring states in which the cartel operates, Vigil said there is only one explanation: money. He said that, like other leaders of criminal organizations, El Marro uses extreme violence to protect his earnings, which are in the millions.

“Narcotrafficking and violence are a glove on the same hand,” he said.

According to Vigil, recent blockades, car fires and shootouts in Celaya, Guanajuato, last Wednesday had the same effect as the shootouts with members of the Sinaloa Cartel in Culiacán, Sinaloa, in October. The chaos from the Culiacán confrontations led authorities to release Ovidio Guzmán López, whose arrest was the objective of the operation.

Last month, Milenio toured the community of Santa Rosa de Lima, Guanajuato, the gang’s base of operations, and found that El Marro had outfitted the town to lead the gang’s activities and evade capture.

He has escaped in the past thanks to a network of safe houses that allows him to move surreptitiously from one property to another in a matter of minutes and to escape to the nearby city of Celaya in just 20 minutes in a vehicle.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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