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Cablegate: Intensifying Violence Continues to Shake Public Confidence

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FM AMCONSUL MONTERREY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3892
INFO RUEHMC/AMCONSUL MONTERREY 9492
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 4966
RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
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221792
2009-08-21 14:00:00
09MONTERREY318
Consulate Monterrey
CONFIDENTIAL
09MONTERREY274|09MONTERREY284
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FM AMCONSUL MONTERREY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3892
INFO RUEHMC/AMCONSUL MONTERREY 9492
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 4966
RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
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RHMFISS/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MONTERREY 000318

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 8/21/2019
TAGS: KCRM PHUM PINS CASC SNAR ASEC PGOV MX
SUBJECT: INTENSIFYING VIOLENCE CONTINUES TO SHAKE PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
IN LOCAL AUTHORITIES

REF: A) MONTERREY 274 B) MONTERREY 284

MONTERREY 00000318 001.2 OF 002


CLASSIFIED BY: Bruce Williamson, Consul General, Monterrey,
State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (SBU) Summary. Cartel violence in Monterrey has continued
to shake public confidence in local authorities and burnish the
military's image as a viable counter to the criminals. On
August 17, the military dealt a major blow to Gulf Cartel
operations in the Monterrey area with the take-down of San
Nicholas plaza boss `El Rambo' (Refugio Garza-Pescador).
Meanwhile, the media and public roundly criticized state police
for taking 80 minutes to respond to a major cartel shootout that
terrorized an upscale Monterrey neighborhood on August 13. The
events come during a wave of violence that saw the murder of a
prominent narco-attorney take place a few hundred meters from
the Consulate, and an assassination attempt on a municipal
public security chief in Coahuila state. Post expects El
Rambo's death to spark new turf battles in the Monterrey area.
End Summary.

A Major Disruption to Cartel Operations

2. (SBU) In an early morning operation on August 17, Mexican
military forces killed the San Nicholas (a Monterrey suburb)
plaza boss for the Gulf Cartel `El Rambo' (Refugio
Garza-Pescador). Rambo succeeded Juan Daniel Carranco (aka `El
Colosio') who was promoted to be the Cancun, Quintana Roo plaza
boss earlier this year. (Note: Mexican authorities arrested
Carranco in Cancun on August 8. End note.) Rambo was killed
during a two and a half hour gun battle with the military that
involved large caliber automatic weapons and fragmentation
grenades. In addition to Rambo, three other cartel members were
killed and five cartel members were captured (including the
daughter of the police chief of the neighboring city of
Apodaca). The military seized a cache of handguns, automatic
rifles, grenades, and uniforms bearing the insignias of Mexico's
FBI equivalent, the Federal Investigation Agency (AFI), the San
Nicholas local police, and private security firms. The military
also discovered journals with detailed police and troop
movements, and a list of potential assassination targets at the
scene. ATF sources indicated that of four pistols discovered
during the raid, three were illegally imported from the U.S. and
one was legally imported through the Mexican military.

3. (C) According to Post DEA, Rambo's death has severely
hampered the cartel's operations in the area. There is
currently confusion among drug traffickers and prostitution
rings, both of which he oversaw, since he has no known
successor. After assuming charge of the area, Rambo had been
successful in consolidating his power and keeping violence in
San Nicholas low to avoid attracting official attention. It is
likely his death will result in more violence as his lieutenants
vie for control.

Cartel Lawyer Assassinated

4. (C) Assassins killed Silvia Raquenel Villanueva, a notorious
drug cartel lawyer in Monterrey on August 9. She was shot to
death in a popular Gulf controlled flea market only blocks away
from the U.S. Consulate and the Federal Police headquarters.
Villanueva primarily represented members of the Beltran-Leyva
faction of the Sinaloa cartel, but has also defended members of
most of the major cartels and police officers accused of
corruption, including those in the Metro Monterrey area recently
accused of cooperating with the Gulf Cartel. As there were four
previous attempts on her life, Villanueva travelled with
bodyguards provided by the federal police (SSP).

5. (C) Post has not been able to confirm the motive for her
assassination, and the reason may never come to light. However,
Post DEA sources indicated that the murder was connected to her
defense of Hector `La Burra' Huerta Rios, of the Beltran-Leyva
cartel, who was detained by the Mexican military in Monterrey in
March. Huerta is currently in Mexico City awaiting formal
charges and Huerta did not feel Villanueva was doing enough to
defend his interests. (Comment: If this proves to be accurate,
her assassination would most likely have had Gulf Cartel
approval given that: 1) the location where the assassination
took place was deep within a Gulf-Cartel controlled area and 2)
she had ties to the Gulf Cartel. End comment.)

Monclova Police Chief Attacked

6. (SBU) In a separate incident on August 14, in the city of
Monclova, Coahuila, the city's public security chief, Juan
Carlos Pacheco, was attacked by armed gunmen traveling in two
pickup trucks. Pacheco is one of a number of active and retired
military officers assigned to local police forces throughout
Mexico to help weed out corruption. He was not injured in the

MONTERREY 00000318 002.2 OF 002


attack, but three members of his security detail were killed.
The town of Piedras Negras, north of Monclova, had two police
chiefs murdered in a three month period earlier this year -
including a military colonel assigned to the city.

7. (C) On August 13, Zeta drug gang members attacked a
residence in an upscale neighborhood that allegedly harbored a
former state police officer and an unknown number of federal
police officers, reputedly working for another faction of the
gang. Local news media prominently displayed photos of homes
in the neighborhood pockmarked with bullet holes. State police
received public widespread criticism for not arriving until 80
minutes after the shootout began. Indeed, ambulance personnel
were first to arrive in the area but were told by the gunmen to
stay clear (which they did). On August 20, the local press
reported that State Secretary for Public Security Aldo Fasci had
suspended 20 state police officers for their failure to respond.
Police then made a gruesome discovery in the hills above
Monterrey often frequented by hikers: a cave that contained
barrels with corrosive liquids used to dissolve bodies.

8. (C) Comment. The military continues to be the only
generally trusted law enforcement force in Northern Mexico. The
capture of Rambo by the military is an example of their ability
to successfully gather and act on intelligence. The local
police forces also continue to disappoint public expectations.
The state of Nuevo Leon recently suspended all checkpoints,
including anti-drunk driving checkpoints, because officials
admitted the checkpoints only served to extract bribes from
drivers. The deterioration in public confidence, combined with
a cascade of evidence on police collaboration with drug cartels
(refs A and B), has left many in Monterrey wondering which
public officials they can turn to for security. End Comment.
WILLIAMSONB

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