Few days ago I was reading one of my pieces regarding the narcotics racket and the Mob and I reminded myself regarding one quite interesting underworld connection between the Latin cartels and the U.S. Mob, so my question is, were there any other similar connections in the past or today such as the next few which I'm about to show you which occurred during the 1960's, 70's and 80's:
During this decade the Mexican government was bending every effort to try to eradicate the opium poppy, but like always still there was a huge illicit production of opium and heroin in the mountainous regions of Mexico, which much of it found its way into the U.S. The problem was that raising poppies was a family affair in the thousands of fields scattered through the crevices and slopes of mountain ranges in the Mexican states of Sinaloa, Durango, Chihuahua, Nayarit, and Zacatecas, and unfortunately for the drug enforcement officials, these large areas of the Mexican terrain are ideal for poppy production. These areas became completely controlled by the traffickers and tot even the army could’ve gotten in there. The dope shipment mostly came from a small place in Mexico known as Telesforo, which was the home-base of a dope peddling gang led by one narcotics trafficker, known only as Parra Lopez. This guy had a huge laboratory which produced large quantities of heroin and was operated by his right-hand man Soto Baldemar, who by that time was the principal distributor of heroin into the U.S. through Mexico. The drug route mainly passed through Los Angeles, California or Tucson, Arizona and was spread around the whole Midwest and in most cases, the product was carried by two Mexican drug peddlers, Bernardo Paballelo Reyes and Alfonso Trevino Ramon. These guys previously operated around the New York area but later transferred their operations in Chicago and around the Midwest and became the biggest narcotics traffickers south of the border, thanks to their Mob-connections, particularly the Chicago Outfit. Even though there were thousands of unaffiliated smugglers in the trade, still according to the feds, there were five U.S. crime families which wholly or partially controlled the smuggling routes including from New York City, such as the Gambinos and Bonannos, and also Tampa, Detroit and Chicago.
At the time, Mexico’s top crime lords and dope pushers were the Savela brothers, Jorge and Victor, who came from the Culiacan area and were closely connected to American crime bosses such as Sam Giancana. In fact, the Savela brothers were the ones who gave a pass on what went over the border or was about to stay forever, meaning if you paid them, it was all good. They controlled all of the large dope peddling routes which came from the Mexico area and they also controlled all the runners who smuggled the dope over the border in Arizona. In addition, the Savela brothers, especially Jorge, were the main protection during Giancana’s stay in Mexico.
By the late 1960's, many Latin gangs started functioning independently in obtaining heroin, cocaine, and marihuana from their home land for distribution only to their own people in the U.S. Meaning they no longer acted only as transporters of the product but instead, now they were the ones who sold it, first hand, and they received the cash, with no street tax included. For example, during this period, one Latin gangster known as Albert “Hitler” Hernandez formed the so-called “Latin Disciples” from an older gang, which was known as the “Latin Scorpions” and they operated mainly around the Humboldt Park area. So some Outfit members began buying and selling mid-level quality Mexican heroin from these street gangs who brought the product and started taking over the market.
In 1970, Europe was facing drug problems on new territories such as Spain, since during that time period, the youth movement, which advocated drug abuse as part of the search for socio-cultural alternatives, spread over much of Europe, introducing new cultural beliefs, life-style behaviors, and contemporary art and music currents, while the phenomenon itself only began to take place in Spain. As a consequence of the slow dismantling of the so-called "French connection" and the destruction of illicit heroin laboratories in France and Italy, many American, Corsican and Italian crime syndicates began searching for new opportunities in Spain. So again with the help of one Spanish drug lord, morphine base was smuggled through Italy or France and then was illegally imported into Spain from where it was produced into heroin. This Latin drug lord came from the Madrid area and was known as Vincente Armada, and his operation stretched mainly around the tourist Costa del Sol area, in Southern Spain and his main activity was consisted of laundering the money generated in businesses such as drug trafficking, arm trafficking, extortion and kidnapping. The international smuggling groups, which by now were under Armada’s rule, were the oldest Latin criminal groups in Spain. So Armada and the U.S. Mob easily found a secure territory for their new dope trafficking operation, like also using the Galicia area which was in Northwest Spain and was used as another bridge point between America and Europe. Besides these gangster's well-known relations with Galician smugglers, they have also established contacts in other coastal regions around Spain and so from there, the shipment was transported across the Atlantic Ocean, straight to New York or Florida.
There was also another so-called “direct line” but this one led straight to Chicago,and it came straight from London, England. Their main smugglers were two elderly women from Barcelona, Spain, identified as the Munoz sisters, Catalina and Rafaela, and one Corsican Mob associate known as Antonio De La Cruz. In fact, the Munoz sisters worked for the Armada clan and their route usually started from Barcelona to London and from there with a direct flight to O’Hare International Airport. These so-called European smugglers were known for transporting over 20 pounds of heroin, which was destined for the Chicago market, during one trip. One time, after their arrival on Chicago’s airport and during the search, the feds managed to find 22 pounds of pure Spanish heroin, which was estimated around 10 million dollars. According to the report, they carried the 22 pounds in packets strapped to their waists beneath their underclothing. The most important thing for the Chicago Outfit was that the feds had no chance in determining if the smugglers had any syndicate connections and thanks to their loyalty, the receiving destination in Chicago was never learned. This shows that during this period the New York or Florida points were not the only solution to the smuggling problem but instead this time, they used almost every city which they felt was secure enough as a receiving point. The main US Cosa Nostra bosses who were involved in the Spanish connection included Chicago boss Sam Giancana and Santo Trafficante, the boss of the Tampa crime family.
By the late 1970’s, many people were getting addicted on cocaine and during this period, Cuba already has become a problem in this respect, and because of the 24/7 smuggling of this drug by Cuban nationals, considerable quantities of cocaine found its way into the United States, particularly Miami and New York City. So the Latin cocaine exports to the United States escalated, thus producing a pandemic of narcotics abuse and the surge of exports was directed by a consortium of Colombian cocaine brokers known as the Medellin cartel, which probably controlled over 60 percent of U.S. cocaine market. In no time, Colombia has become the leading nation in Latin America for producing and smuggling cocaine around the world and because of that, it was no longer considered just a glamorous “toy” of the affluent, mostly because it became also available for housewives and hotel clerks in ordinary suburbs, poor residents of the ghettos, and even teenagers in suburban and city high schools. The whole situation became so big that even the cocaine enthusiasts had their own paraphernalia available in shops such as spoons, straws, mirrors, kits, Benzodrex inhalers, and even dealers' supplies like scales, one-gram packet papers and mannitol, a popular cutting agent.
During the early 1980's, the main guy for the Chicago Mob in creating the Colombian cocaine supply was one Jose Martinez, who had close connections with two Colombian drug lords down in Florida, such as Robert Valido and Jorge Silva. So the boys arranged for one El Camino truck, and build a secret compartment in it where the cocaine was to be placed in, and so once a month, the vehicle left from Miami to Chicago, usually packed with ten kilograms of cocaine, where it was welcomed by one Outfit crew which belonged to the so-called Grand Avenue faction.
Even though the Colombians were at the top of the cocaine market, still by the mid 1980’s, many powerful Mexican drug cartels were created and they also began flooding the United States with all kinds of narcotics and on top of that, during the same time period, the use of cocaine was reaching epidemic proportions in cities large and small across the nation, thus sparking turf wars and escalating drug-related violence. Now, during my research on the Chicago Outfit, I’ve realized that they were not that kind of an organization, I mean yes they killed a lot of people but always avoided internal conflicts and their main goal wasn’t narcotics. As for the new breed of criminals, they just didn’t care about any of the rules and that is why, the Outfit immediately got pushed out from the number one spot, thanks to the endless urge for violence of the new criminal generation made out of these various Latin gangs.
One of those new criminal organizations was the Hernandez crime family which was based in Matamoros, Mexico, and through Texas, they managed to send large shipments of cocaine and marihuana all the way to Chicago. According to the feds, the organization was headed by Elio Hernandez and his sons, and these guys were quite dangerous, mostly because they were known for doing ritualistic murders. So besides being drug dealers, they also represented a gruesome cult and sacrificed their victims in such a way, in which they believed was the only way to protect their dope peddling operations and above all, themselves. One of the family’s main representatives in the U.S. was one Mexican drug lord known as Manuel “Poncho” Jaramillo, who settled himself in Mission, Texas, which was a small place near the border. Even though Jaramillo supplied drug dealers around country such as in New York and Miami, according to the government, his main connections were in Chicago. Story goes that Jaramillo’s second job, besides overseeing their dope racket, was money laundering or in other words, he invested drug money in legitimate enterprises. But even for that, he still needed some good underworld connections, and there was no other organization for such “pleasures” if it wasn’t for the Mob, which was the main reason for the Hernandez group's involvement with the Chicago Heights faction mainly in money laundering operations, thus putting the dope business on second place.
So were there any other similar connections during the 1990's or 2000's and if, who were they?
Discuss all Organized Mexican mafia gangs Cartels here.
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