“Morogris” for Borderland Beat
|Aftermath of one of the shootouts between Los Arellanes and Los Salgueiro (image credit: Diario de Juarez)|
The cartel war that exists in the region of Guadalupe and Calvo, Chihuahua, originated in June 2020 after Los Salgueiro reportedly took down an aircraft carrying family members of Idelfonso Arellanes Acosta (alias El Poncho), the head of Los Arellanes, a group allied to La Línea.
Chihuahua’s Attorney General’s Office head Cesar Jauregui Moreno said that 6 people (including 2 minors) died in the incident; everyone but the pilot were relatives of Poncho Arellano.
Investigators have not explained exactly how Los Salgueiro were behind the collision. but Los Arellanes believe they were responsible and have been making incursions into Guadalupe y Calvo to avenge the death of their clan members ever since.
As a consequence of this war between criminal groups, earlier this week there was a two-day shootout in the community of Saucito de los Araujo (Guadalupe y Calvo municipality). Three people were killed.
Two of the victims were brothers, identified as Eliseo Pulido Gutierrez, 53, and Esteban Heras Gutiérrez, 46, both with a known address in Guadalupe y Calvo. The two were believed to have been high-ranking members of Los Salgueiro in the area.
From January 2021 to July 2023, the war between Los Salgueiro and Los Arellanes has left at least 40 dead in more than 10 clashes across different municipalities. Only this year, in Madera, 21 people have been killed, while in the Coronado municipality there have been three other clashes during the same time period where 17 people have lost their lives.
According to information published by El Diario de Juárez, the victims of the plane crash were the pilot Leonilo González Olivas, 38, from Guachochi; and crew members Katia Arellanes Santos, 23 years old; Ana Paulina López Arellanes, 12 years old; Esmeralda Arellanes Santos, 13 years old; Idelfonso Arellanes Santos, 14, and Luis Ángel López Arellanes, also 14 years old.
According to the flight plan, it was at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, 22 June 2020 when the Cessna aircraft, Registration Number XGCC TU-206G and Serial Number U20605205 took off.
It was estimated that the time to reach their destination would be 1 hour 20 minutes. They travelled from Camargo and headed to Sinaloa,² but Los Arellanes believes that Los Salgueiro were responsible for the aircraft’s collision in Mariano Balleza municipality. Everyone onboard was killed.
Investigators are not exactly sure about all the details on the accident because two of the bodies were found about 2 km (1.25 mi) from the crash site.
Who is Poncho Arellanes?
Poncho Arellanes has a long history with organized crime, with his criminal career spanning over a decade. He started by forming a kidnapping ring called Los Arellanes, which held operations in the states of Coahuila, Durango, and Chihuahua. Their center of operations was in Camargo municipality.
This gang started as an independent group of kidnappers until it was dissolved in 22 September 2012 after a failed kidnapping in Saucillo that resulted in the death of two police officers and the arrests of multiple gang members, including Poncho’s brother Ever Ismael Arellanes Acosta.¹
Authorities said at that time that they were looking for two other people involved in the kidnapping, Joel Escobedo Meza (alias El Boli) and Victor Arellanes Acosta, another of Poncho’s brother. He was believed to be hiding in Coahuila.
Poncho first captured the attention of Mexican authorities later in 2012 when he was arrested in Laguna de las Vacas along with Juan de Dios Moreno Garcia. Investigators said at that time that he was a member of Gente Nueva and that Poncho was 37 years old. But no more was known and Poncho was eventually released. He later started working for La Linea.
Many of the Arellanes are involved in organized crime and/or live near Camargo municipality. So far, these are the clan members are identified:
- Idelfonso Arellanes Acosta (alias Poncho) – Fugitive
- Víctor Arellanes Acosta – Fugitive
- Éver Ismael Arellanes Acosta – Arrested in 2012
- Juan Arellanes Acosta – Killed in 2011
There are other “Arellanes Acosta” individuals cited in public records from Camargo municipality and Sinaloa but Borderland Beat omitted them from this report because they are not suspected of organized crime involvement.
Los Salgueiro are considered the predominant group of the Sinaloa Cartel in the southern region of Chihuahua, as well as in some areas of Durango and Sinaloa.
According to a 2023 organization chart shared by the State Attorney General’s Office, Ruperto Salgueiro Nevárez (alias El 37) is the leader of Los Salgueiro. While Melquiades Diaz Meza (alias El Chapo Calin or El 13), recently killed, was considered one of the main plaza bosses.
Sources: Diario de Juarez (main, multiple cited in this article); Borderland Beat archives
Images: Special thanks to “HEARST” for the criminal profile images
¹ The other gang members arrested were José Díaz Vázquez and/or Jesús Antonio Vazquez Molinay, and Mario Adrian Oaxaca Carballo.
² Sources differ on where the aircraft had its final destination. One source said they were heading to Los Mochis while another said it was Guasave.