troops take down El Teo of Tijuana

The federal police have captured Teodoro Garcia Simental, (“El Teo”) the former Arellano Felix lieutenant who has been at least partially responsible for the bloodshed in Tijuana over the past year or so. (It was federal police who caught him in La Paz, Baja California, not “troops,” but I wanted alliteration in the headline, apologies for misleading.)

This is a huge bust for several reasons:
1) It’s the third major success for the authorities in just one month (Marcos Arturo Beltran Leyva killed; then his brother Carlos, admittedly less important but still inner circle, arrested)

2) Tijuana was getting very bloody again. (Check out Proceso back in early December for Tijuana’s turmoil – proceso.com.mx)

3) El Teo was allegedly working with Chapo to take over Tijuana from the remnants of the Arellano Felix family. I don’t have my ear to the ground in Tijuana in any way, but his fall means one of two things: the authorities there are not interested in playing into Chapo’s hands; or Chapo has managed to take over TIjuana on his own, no longer needs El Teo, and gave him up. The latter theory will likely sit well with the many conspiracy theorists throughout Mexico.

4) El Teo is not heavily protected by the cartel higher-ups – he’s a relatively new player and ran very independently, at least to begin with. As a result, it’s quite possible he’ll spill a lot of beans while in federal custody.

5) There are only five “major” cartel leaders still on the loose: Chapo, Hector Beltran Leyva, Ismael El Mayo Zambada, Heriberto Lazcano (El Lazca) and Vicente Carrillo Fuentes.
Hector is a relatively unknown quantity; El Mayo and Chapo are basically untouchable; El Lazca owns the northeast and Carrillo Fuentes is and always has been considered a lame duck.

I’m betting on Carrillo Fuentes to fall next. Hector Beltran Leyva will ally with Chapo and El Mayo again. The Sinaloa cartel and Gulf (now really the Zetas) will split the country half and half, and lo and behold? Peace at last.

PS – I don’t rate La Familia as a cartel or major power in its own right. Without strong allies up north, it has no way of shipping its product up there. It doesn’t have the Colombian connection, nor does it have the US connections that the others have. (My firm belief is that the major US bust of La Familia members last year was actually a bust of Sinaloa cartel “members” who were working for a Sinaloa/La Familia alliance. No US or Mexican sources will confirm this suspicion; but La Familia is a priority on their list right now so there is incentive for them to play up the group’s alleged clout)