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El Marro and his wife Karina Mora. El Marro and his wife Karina Mora.

Walls closing in on El Marro, Guanajuato cartel capo

Either authorities or the rival CJNG could deliver fatal blow to head of Santa Rosa de Lima cartel

The noose appears to be growing tighter around the neck of José Antonio Yépez Ortiz after the recent arrest of the Guanajuato crime boss’ wife and the murder of his sister at her own wedding.

Karina Mora, wife of the leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima fuel theft and extortion cartel, and three other suspected members of the criminal organization were detained in Celaya on January 29.

Two and a half weeks before Mora’s arrest, the sister of “El Marro,” as Yépez is commonly known, was shot dead during her wedding ceremony at a church in the Guanajuato community of Pelavacas.

Karem Elizabeth Yépez Ortiz’s husband-to-be, an alleged Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel member known as “El Calamardo,” was also killed and four other people were wounded.

According to El Blog del Narco, which reports on organized crime, Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) gunmen took the decision to attack the church on January 11 after they became aware that El Marro would be in attendance at his sister’s wedding.

However, Yépez left the church before the sicarios arrived, the news website La Silla Rota reported.

His sister was allegedly in charge of criminal operations in Celaya, which is considered one of the most lucrative hunting grounds for the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel.

The gang has been engaged in a bloody turf war with the CJNG in Guanajuato in recent years, turning the state into Mexico’s most violent.

Guanajuato authorities say that the conflict has weakened the Santa Rosa cartel, and state security commissioner Sophia Huett López claimed in October that security forces were closing in on Yépez and that his capture was only a “matter of time.”

However, one of the main barriers to his arrest is that he has protection from state authorities in Guanajuato, the news website Infobae reported, stating that Attorney General Carlos Zamarripa has been accused on several occasions of allowing Yépez to evade capture.

The federal government launched an operation to capture the crime boss early last year but while luxury homes linked to the cartel were seized and scores of its members were arrested, El Marro himself escaped, allegedly via tunnels that connected different properties in the town of Santa Rosa de Lima.

The operation came after a narco-banner appeared in Salamanca on January 31, 2019, warning President López Obrador to remove security forces from Guanajuato or innocent people would die.

The narcomanta read in part: “I’ve left you a little gift in my refinery so that you see how things are going to get if you don’t release my people who have been taken . . . Face up to the consequences. Yours sincerely, El Señor Marro.”

The “little gift” presumably referred to explosive devices that were left in a vehicle outside the Salamanca refinery. Soldiers from the anti-bomb squad removed the devices before they detonated.

Operations against the cartel that continued throughout last year took more than 90 people into custody including 10 men who were arrested in San Miguel de Allende in October.

The federal government’s Financial Intelligence Unit has also blocked access to 35.5 million pesos (US $1.9 million) in bank accounts held by Yépez or people linked to him.

Federal and state authorities said in July that El Marro had no resources to fund his criminal activities, undermining his capacity to bribe authorities, pay other gang members and buy the loyalty of people in different parts of the state.

Yet he has still been able to avoid capture. Now, however, with his wife in custody and his sister dead, there is a growing sense that Yépez too will fall.

The authorities and the Santa Rosa de Lima’s bitter rival, the CJNG, are both in contention to deliver a final blow to El Marro, who was previously arrested in 2008 on organized crime charges but released due to a violation of due process.

Capture by the former would spell the end of his criminal career, while his location by the Jalisco Cartel, considered Mexico’s most dangerous and powerful criminal organization, would likely precede a violent end to his life.

Source: Infobae (sp) 

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