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Apr 2, 2013 | 14:42 GMT

3 mins read

Mexican Cartels: The Gulf Cartel

Editor's Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, Stratfor cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Video Transcript: The Gulf cartel is primarily, like the name indicates, located along the Gulf Coast of Mexico. The two cities that it's really based in at the present time are Matamoros and Reynosa.

A lot of times you'll hear us talking about how cartel organizations had evolved out of the Guadalajara cartel but the Gulf cartel is really an exception to that. They were counterparts to the Guadalajara cartel and really are an older organization — perhaps the oldest organization currently operating within Mexico. The guy who really kind of established the Gulf cartel as a major narcotics smuggling organization and specifically the cocaine trade was a guy by the name of Juan Garcia Abrego. And Garcia Abrego was a guy who had connections specifically with the Cali cartel in Colombia. Before, the Mexicans used to make just a little bit less on what they moved through their territory. Under Garcia Abrego, they began grabbing a larger portion of that, and those increased proceeds, then, are really what helped the Mexican cartels grow, as far as their financial and really their power.

The Gulf cartel differs from its rivals in that it's composed of these families that have been involved in smuggling and who have lived in these communities for many, many years. In a lot of the other cartels we have people who have moved from Sinaloa to form the Juarez cartel or that Arellano Felix Organization in Tijuana so they've kind of been outsiders coming in. But with the Gulf cartel, we have these families that are really entrenched in the community. They really are related to many people in the community and that gives them kind of a wide support base as so it's also hard to really kind of hard to root them out and they've been involved in this smuggling, you know, really for decades and decades.

One of the things that has happened really over the past couple years is the Gulf cartel has been hit very hard. First, they had a split with Los Zetas, and that hurt them incredibly because Los Zetas were a very large part of the cartel and really were their enforcement arm. Of course, they also have suffered the loss of several very important leaders, guys like Tony Torment [Antonio Cardenas Guillen] and several others who have really hurt the organization as far as leadership goes. So because of this, they've really fragmented and really at this point we're still struggling to see if they are really a unified, centralized organization or whether they split into kind of these smaller clans and families based upon the smuggling plazas of Reynosa and Matamoros. So it seems like they're becoming much more localized, much less powerful and they're really more threatened by their outside rivals such as Los Zetas and they're more reliant on the help of their outside allies such as the Sinaloa cartel. So things could kind of unwind pretty rapidly for them as this year progresses.

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