“HEARST”, “Itzli”, and “Sol Prendido” for Borderland Beat

The Gulf Cartel (CDG) left five of their hitmen, who they say were behind the attack on the four Americans, bound at wrist with zip ties on a street in Matamoros. 

The cartel group claimed they did not give the order for the abduction and offered up the hitmen to  police. 

The Offering

During the pre-dawn hours of March 9, 2023, rumors began spreading online that the Gulf Cartel – Matamoros faction had left a group of their own hitmen, tied up, for police as a kind of offering. 

The hitmen, the rumors alleged, were the members responsible for the recent attack on 4 Americans, which left two dead and two injured. 

A tweet posted hours earlier, warning that Primera Street and Lauro Villar Avenue were being closed off by law enforcement, hinted that the rumors might be true because that was the location of the fateful kidnapping. 

Later, pictures were posted online by Twitter accounts such as Noticia Morelos and Gildo Garza which seemingly confirm the rumors. 

In the images five hitmen can be seen, bound at the wrist, lying facedown on the ground with their shirts flipped over their heads – a non-threatening pose used by law enforcement after someone had already been searched for a weapon. 

Later photos, such as the ones shown above, appear to show the men with some of the bindings removed, sitting up. This was presumably done by officers at the scene as they began to speak with them and document the scene. 

A black Silverado pickup truck is photographed in the background of many of the images. It was presumably handed over as part of the offering. Initial versions of events alleged that hitmen were riding in a white pickup truck during the March 3rd incident but later video shown by the Attorney General’s Office depicts an additional black pickup truck, driven by cartel members, which was also involved.

The black pickup that was left alongside the men is presumably the same one driven by hitmen on March 3rd. 

Tactical vests, firearms, and corresponding ammo was left on a sidewalk nearby. The items may have been used in the initial attack. 

A narco message sign was left alongside the hitmen with an explanation from the Gulf Cartel. The message read as follows, as translated by Sol Prendido:

The Gulf Cartel Grupo Escorpiones strongly condemns the events of Friday, March 3. In which unfortunately an innocent working mother died. And 4 American citizens were kidnapped, of which 2 died. For this reason we have decided to hand over those involved and directly responsible for the events who at all times acted under their own determination and indiscipline and against the rules in which the CDG has always operated. 

We respect the life, tranquility and integrity of the innocent. The CDG apologizes to the society of Matamoros, the relatives of Mrs. Arely, the affected American individuals, and families. In addition the CDG asks society to remain calm because we are committed to ensure that these errors caused by indiscipline aren’t repeated. The guilty parties will pay, regardless of who they are.  

CDG Grupo Escorpiones

Why Do This?

For those wondering why a cartel group would potentially give up their own men like this – it’s because the kidnapping “calento la plaza”, or heated up the region, meaning that kidnapping brought increased law enforcement attention to the area.

Anything which brings “heat” to an area where a cartel group operates is bad for business, as far as the cartel is concerned. 

The last thing an organized crime group wants is an increase in media attention, particularly American media attention, that’s focused on the criminal activity of their territory. 

Handing over these hitmen is an attempt by the Gulf Cartel to appease the American cries for justice, believing that once the perpetrators are arrested, the focus will shift to prosecuting the men for the kidnapping and ease off the larger criminal scene in Matamoros. 

It’s important to remember, however, that the aggressive attack on the four Americans is the result of the environment of Matamoros – a city where Gulf Cartel leadership has thoroughly corrupted local law enforcement, paying out weekly bribes to municipal police officers. The collusion of law enforcement with organized crime is what emboldened the hitmen to act as they did on March 3rd.

Sources: César Jiménez Mtz, GEO-ONE, CÓDIGO MX, Hector de Mauleon, Menny, Transformerescp

Update 12:00 PM CST:

The alleged names of four of the five men have been posted by cartel news Twitter account Codigo Rojo. They are:

Antonio de Jesús Vidaurri Castillo

ALIAS: “Chuy” or “Chucho”

ORIGINALLY FROM: Río Bravo, Tamaulipas

Luis Valdez Trejo

AGE: 33

ORIGINALLY FROM: Tula, Tamaulipas. 

Gustavo Marcelino Rodarte

ORIGINALLY FROM: Matamoros, Tamaulipas 

Ever Noel Hernández Mora