“Socalj” for Borderland Beat

Jorge Raúl Rosales Cristerna, R-18, was considered the head of the plaza in Colima for the Sinaloa Cartel, was murdered on the afternoon of Sunday, August 6 in Mazatlán, Sinaloa. R-18 was tasked by “El Mayo” in their fight against the CJNG in Colima. 

He was behind the 2015 attempted killing of “El Mencho.” He was arrested in May 2018 for crimes related to drug trafficking, and transferred to the maximum security prison of the Altiplano, in the State of Mexico. It is unknown when or why he had been released, but according to the SEDENA leaks, he was out in 2022 and headed to Colima to reclaim control of the area.

On Sunday, August 6, 2023, Jorge Raúl was traveling in a white Jeep Cherokee when he was attacked by an armed group. His body and the bodies of two of his escorts were discovered following the attack. A woman, the probable wife of “R-18” was injured and transported to a nearby hospital. Another two have been reported injured, according to the Mazatlan Tourism Directed, but nothing further on their identities or the extent of their injuries has been released yet. Other news outlets only have reported the 3 deaths and one injured woman. The attack occurred in the town of El Chilillo, El Habal on Highway 15.

A Toyota Corolla, containing the body of one of his escorts was overturned. It is said he was a retired Navy Captain, but no name has been released, neither has that of the third dead man. Several members of the “R-18” organization have been former elements of the Navy.

An older Lincoln Navigator SUV was also left at the scene, likely abandoned by the gunmen. Sources stated that the license plates were that of Jalisco state. 

Ricardo Velarde Cárdenas, the Undersecretary of Tourism in Sinaloa stated that the killing will not generate a bad image for the port of Mazatlán. “Without a doubt, these types of situations are unfortunate, but I don’t think they come to harm the good results that have been achieved,” he said in an interview. Ricardo stated that the summer season is quite positive for Mazatlan and tourists feel safe in the port.

CJNG Claims Responsibility

A message, supposedly from CJNG was posted via Facebook celebrating the death of “R-18” and calling out those who collaborated with him. It is within this message that claims of political and judicial corruption are alleged and possibly provided a reason why “R-18” was free from Altiplano prison as he had been arrested in 2018.
“Good evening readers of this news outlet, to inform you that the [rat] better known as “R18” and/or “The Dark Lord” has just been executed in the city of Mazatlan Sinaloa! We want to inform you that from today there will be peace for the citizens no more death to innocents, extortion, or floor collection for those of us who work day by day we want a better Manzanillo now without this scum we will return to the Manzanillo of before because all the violence that happened since the previous year was caused by a pendejo said to be “lord” who came to Manzanillo to steal the tranquility of the Manzanillas. That’s why from today we will make a Manzanillo again to continue where one can walk through the streets with tranquility, tranquility that was stolen by an abusive asshole!”
“On the other hand, gentlemen of the prosecutor’s office, we want to inform you that the active elements of the Navy [SEMAR] named Rodríguez, Carillo, and El Aguila are elements that collaborate with the “R18″ in the same way the directors of the Cerezos Chan Diablo and Colima who collaborated with him to facilitate things in the intermediary of all the lawyer Luis Fernando Tadeo Gutiérrez and Pedrito while the ‘lic bone hullo’ because they wanted to lift him up for the Patrañadas that he did are in charge of paying judges, prosecutor’s office, people of the prosecutor’s office and the directors of the prisons so that you continue to detain innocent people and their people to go free as if nothing had happened!”

Fight Against CJNG for Colima

The leader of Colima’s CJNG forces is alleged to be Mencho’s son-in-law Julio Alberto Castillo Rodríguez, alias “El Chorro.” The leader of the Colima Independent Cartel, who splintered last year from CJNG, used to be José Bernabé Brizuela Meraz, known as “La Vaca.” He was arrested in August 2022. It is believed that “El Abalon,” Carlos Miguel Meraz Marcado took over until he himself was arrested in 2023.

The claims of active SEMAR Navy elements colluding with CDS have been mentioned before with one being the brother of a CDS member under “R-18” named Carlos Enrique Martinez Cuesta who was tortured, interrogated, and killed by CJNG on video earlier in February 2023.

“We killed Carlos Enrique Martinez Cuesta aka Jimmy. He’s the brother of Marcos Antonio Martinez aka Commander Marcos. Who was also receiving protection from the Navy on behalf of his other brother 1st Sergeant Eduardo Alejandro Martinez Cuesta. On orders of Jorge Raul Rosales Cristerna aka “R-18.” He is second in command within all of Manzanillo. This after R-18 and his lackey lieutenants.

We’re currently investigating and will be coming after R-21 and Colombiano, you guys think you’re bosses within the neighborhoods. The purge has begun. Be fucking ready ’cause we’re already in position here,” read the statement from CJNG following the killing of the captive.”

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Failed 2015 Attack on El Mencho

Reports indicate that around 2015, Cristerna, directed by “El Mayo,” met with members of the La Familia Michoacana with the aim of creating an alliance and getting CJNG out of the drug business. For this, a “cleaning” of its operators would take place, who were also engaged in crimes such as kidnapping and extortion.

At the end of 2015, “El Mencho” was to be assassinated by Jorge Raúl and his men, in the state of Jalisco. The strategy was to ambush “El Mencho” in a neighborhood called La Estancia, in Zapopan. 
A large group of 150 sicarios arrived aboard 50 trucks and SUVs. Despite the intense gunfight, the “El Mencho” managed to escape. However, unofficially, about 50 were killed during the confrontation, 20 of them being CJNG hitmen.

Who is R-18?

In 2015, A narco-corrido regarding Sinaloa’s arrival in Colima was produced and a YouTube video message was also posted announcing the reinforced alliance with the Colima Cartel and their joint fight against the CJNG.
“In the early hours of today Friday in an exclusive hotel in the port of Manzanillo, Colima, was a reunion between Senor R-18 and Gerardo Mendoza [who was responsible for the killing of former Governor Silverio Cavazos], in which they reinforced alliances and arrived at an agreement to secure the cities and the citizens. No extortion will be permitted to businessmen, we will exterminate the extortioners, rapists, kidnappers, robbers of the homeless, and members of the CJNG. Sinaloa is already in Colima. The sweeper “La Barredora” has arrived,” said the message.
“R-18’s” wife was shot and killed in Mazatlan, while Jorge was imprisoned in Colima. Afterward, a narcomanta from the CJNG was left stating;
“Jorge Raul RC or rather R18 we warned you, we told you that we were going to send your family feet first. You thought that having them far away in the city of Mazatlan you would have them untouchable haha ​​you were wrong the death of your dog wife is just the beginning stop saying that she was clean because you know very well that it is not like that she helped you with several of your operations and although thanks to her you are locked up in the Cereso de Colima I know that you must be writhing in pain and courage because we know it was important to you, we took time but we acted and prepare one by one they will fall we will hit you where it hurts the most.”
Jorge issued a video notice via Facebook denouncing femicides in Colima.
“People of Colima, we, the Sinaloa Cartel, feel offended and annoyed by the Feminicides that have occurred recently. Statement from Commander R of the Sinaloa Cartel, with the family. The Sinaloa Cartel was recognized by Governor Mario himself. Narcomantas accuse government protection of the Sinaloa Cartel in….”
Gerardo Mendoza was captured and killed inside his jail cell in Jalisco only 3 days after his capture on May 9, 2018. Since 2016, specialists in security issues such as Eduardo Guerrero and Héctor de Mauleón published information linking Mendoza to “El R-18”, with whom they would have agreed to carry out a “cleaning” in the port of Manzanillo against the CJNG.

Jorge Raúl Rosales Cristerna himself was later arrested in May 2018 for crimes related to drug trafficking, and transferred to the maximum security prison of the Altiplano, in the State of Mexico. It had not been reported until now that he was out of prison, and it is not known when he regained his freedom and under what conditions he was released. 

Until his arrest, Rosales Cristerna led the Sinaloa Cartel in Colima. After his arrest in Jalisco, his transfer to Altiplano was guarded by the Secretary of National Defense (Sedena), Secretary of the Navy (Semar), Federal Police, and the State Police.
After the capture of “R-18” in 2018, Rafael Félix, “El Changuito Antrax” who had escaped from the Culiacán prison in 2017, assumed control of the organization in Colima. It was officially reported in February 2022 after increased violence in the area. The CJNG has continued its war against the Sinaloa Cartel in the Colima region.
According to the Guayamaca Leaks in October 2022, SEDENA reported that “R-18” had resumed control of Colima, still not clear if that was from within the prison or outside. However, in February 2023, when CJNG interrogation videos were released with the captured Sinaloan claiming he was at the orders of “R-18.” So it is possible he was free before that time. Given the accusations from the CJNG of his ties to local government and police, it is possible a deal was made for his release.