Documenting the two least known brothers in the Beltrán Leyva family and alternate possibilities as to their general absence.
The Beltrán Leyva brothers played a key role in many events in Mexican cartel history, be it members of the Cártel de Sinaloa (Sinaloa Cartel, CDS) or as the independent Beltrán Leyva organization (BLO). While four of the brothers have been in the public spotlight, the other two brothers are poorly documented.
In this article, we will take a very brief look at the four core Beltrán Leyva brothers and cover what has been reported on the other two brothers before touching upon alternative theories regarding the two forgotten brothers.
The Four Core Brothers
The most well known brother in the Beltrán Leyva family is Marcos Arturo, who is generally reported to have been born in September 1961, although February 1958 and June 1962 have also been listed. Best known as “El Barbas”, among other nicknames, his criminal career dates back to the early 1980s as it is documented that he broke out of prison in November 1983. Allegedly a distant relative of Joaquín Archivaldo “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, who placed him in charge of his finances while imprisoned from 1993 to 2001, “El Barbas” was once a member of the Guadalajara Cartel and thereafter, the Juárez Cartel, where he was a money launder for Amado “El Señor de Los Cielos” Carrillo Fuentes. He was a key member of the CDS Federation and the head of the BLO up until he was killed in a military operation to arrest him on December 16, 2009 in Cuernavaca, Morelos.
Alfredo, better known as “El Mochomo”, is generally reported to have been born in January 1971, although February 1951 has also been listed. Best known for his cartel operations in Sonora and Sinaloa, his arrest on January 21, 2008 in Culiacán, Sinaloa was blamed on “El Chapo Guzmán”, leading “El Barbas” to pull the BLO from the CDS. He was extradited to the United States in November 2014, where he is currently imprisoned.
Héctor Manuel, better known as “El H”, was born in January 1960. He maintained a low profile as a financial operator for the BLO up until the death of “El Barbas”, at which point he became leader of their organization. He was arrested on October 1, 2014 in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato and died in prison in November 2018.
Carlos, born in 1969, was part of “Los Tres Caballeros”, as he, “El Mochomo”, and “El Barbas” were known collectively, implying he was a relatively important cartel member, but his role in the CDS and BLO is unclear. Following the death of “El Barbas”, calls made to him by their sister Felícitas were tapped by the Mexican government and he was arrested on December 30, 2009 while on his way to a family meeting.
Another Beltrán Leyva brother named Mario Alberto, nicknamed “El General”, has been occasionally mentioned since at least 2005. In the investigation PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/021/2005, he was listed alongside “El Barbas”, “El H”, and Carlos. Surprisingly, Alfredo “El Mochomo”, who was well documented by this time, was not listed but it should be noted that there appears to be a level of confusion, as “El H” was listed as Héctor Alfredo instead of Héctor Manuel.
In July 2005 it was initially rumored that Mario Alberto was killed in Culiacán, Sinaloa, although authorities would reveal that it was actually their cousin Julio César “El Julión” Beltrán Quintero, that was killed. The article also listed Mario Alberto as one of “Los Tres Caballeros” instead of Carlos as most reports indicate.
Reporting from May 2008 about “El Barbas” and “El Mochomo” briefly states that “There is little information regarding the brothers Mario Alberto and Carlos Beltrán Leyva. Of Mario Alberto only his alias El General is mentioned”.
The United States government sanctioned a number of individuals on March 12, 2009 as part of the Kingpin Act, including “El Mochomo” and “El H”, the later of which was listed as follows:
BELTRAN LEYVA, Hector (a.k.a. BELTRAN LEYVA, Mario Alberto; a.k.a. RIVERA MUNOZ, Alonso), Mexico; DOB 01 Jan 1960; POB Mexico; citizen Mexico
Twelve days later, the Mexican Attorney General’s office (PGR) released a most wanted list of 24 cartel leaders and 13 lieutenants. A 30 million peso reward was offered for Mario Alberto Beltrán Leyva and/or Héctor Beltrán Leyva, alias El General.
With the death of “El Barbas”, Mario Alberto briefly came into focus. Some reports would state that “El Barbas” had been sharing leadership of the BLO with him, others would indicate that Mario Alberto would likely try to take control of the BLO and indicated that El General was “the principal negotiator of the Beltrán Leyva group”.
Following the arrest of Carlos, it was reported that “now only two Beltrán Leyva are free: Mario Alberto and Héctor. The first is called El General”. Furthermore, regarding the family meeting that Carlos was reported to have been going to attend, it stated that “At the event, perhaps for the Beltrán Leyva family’s own security, the presence of two of the other brothers, Mario Alberto, El General, and Héctor, El H, was not expected.”
In September 2010 Sergio Enrique “El Grande” Villarreal Barragán, a former high-ranking member of the BLO was arrested, and it was reported that “Arturo’s brother Hector, nicknamed ‘El H,’ who is wanted by Mexican and U.S. authorities, is believed to be at the helm of the organization. Authorities also are looking for a third Beltran Leyva brother, Mario Alberto, nicknamed ‘El General.’”
After the arrest of “El H” in October 2014 it was reported that Mario Alberto was still free and apparently was “staying away from the illegal business of this family”. References to Mario Alberto largely disappear thereafter outside of being listed among the Beltrán Leyva in reporting from a historical perspective.
Finding documentation on Amberto Beltrán Leyva is extremely challenging. The principal, and possibly first, reference to him takes place in the days following the death of “El Barbas” in December 2009. In the article “El Barbas, de frente y de perfil”, Rio Doce, using the February 5, 1958 birthdate, presented “El Barbas” as the oldest sibling and goes on to list the others as “Armida (1959), Mario (1960), Carlos (1962), Amberto (1966), Alfredo (1971) y Gloria (1972)”.
In a report from October 2014 about the arrest of “El H” it was said that “Amberto, Mario Alberto and Goria are still free, they are apparently staying away from the illegal business of this family”. Until December 2023, there does not appear to be any additional references to Amberto and only rarely does he appear listed among the Beltrán Leyva in reporting from a historical perspective.
Nevertheless, on December 6, 2023 the United States announced sanctions on several members of the BLO, including “brothers Mario German Beltrán Araujo (Mario Beltrán Araujo) and Amberto Beltrán Araujo, sons of Amberto Beltrán Leyva, who have been involved in drug trafficking”.
Based upon all available information, it would seem that the Beltrán Leyva is made up of six brothers, the core four being Marcos Arturo “El Barbas”, Alfredo “El Mochomo”, Héctor “El H”, and Carlos, Mario Alberto “El General” being a part of the BLO but disappearing from view, and Amberto being a mystery beyond his sons joining the cartel. However, there are two main theories that present alternative possibilities in which there are only five brothers.
In the eyes of many Mario Alberto “El General” is merely an alias of Héctor “El H” as implied by the United States sanctions of March 2009 which listed “BELTRAN LEYVA, Hector (a.k.a. BELTRAN LEYVA, Mario Alberto; a.k.a. RIVERA MUNOZ, Alonso)”. Falling in line with this is Rio Doce reporting from December 2009 that does not list Héctor but does include Mario and Amberto. Furthermore, Mario Alberto is immediately mentioned in a leadership position following the death of “El Barbas” which falls in line with “El H” taking control.
However, there is evidence that points to Mario Alberto and Héctor being two separate individuals. While the PGR reward is ambiguous in its listing of “Mario Alberto Beltrán Leyva and/or Héctor Beltrán Leyva, alias El General”, reporting from the arrest of Carlos presents Mario Alberto and Héctor as two separate individuals, as well as the claims that neither were expected at the family meeting. This continues with following the arrest of “El Grande” and reporting of the arrest of “El H”, at which point Mario Alberto is presented as still being free.
There is another possibility, Mario Alberto and Amberto are not two separate individuals but are actually one in the same. While this does contradict the Rio Doce reporting from December 2009, which lists Mario being born in 1960 and Amberto being born in 1966, the absence of Héctor immediately points to there being at least one error in the list. Similarities in the names can be seen as pointing to an overlap, as Alberto and Amberto are only one letter different and sound virtually the same when pronounced. Also worth considering is the names of the two sons of Amberto as listed in the United States sanctions; Amberto Beltrán Araujo is obviously named after his father, the other is named Mario German. Could it be that all the times Mario Alberto was listed, it should have actually been Mario Amberto and just as Marcos Arturo “El Barbas” generally went by his middle name, Mario Amberto preferred to be called Amberto?