Iguala: The route and complicity of heroin


The files at the ministerial archives of the case of the 43 disappeared rural normal school students of Iguala have already shown, at least the existence of a transnational organization dedicated to the racking of heroin from the southern State of Guerrero up to different cities of the United States. A permanent operation of racking of drugs and money could only have taken place with the complicity that surpasses the local authorities.

Based on ministerial eyewitnesses of detained policemen because of the massacre of Iguala a year ago –six dead, 40 wounded, 43 disappeared rural normal school students under the hail of the bullets- appear not only to be the modus operandi  of the drug trafficking in the region, but as well how illicit shipments were allowed to pass that same afternoon of the 26th of September, that most likely were placed by accident in nails  in some of the three busses that evening, took by force the students of the Normal Rural School Raúl Isidro Burgos, in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

How many trips in cars, vans, busses, tractors and other types of freight cars from the light vehicles up to the noisy Torton vans are necessary to move dozens of tons of opium-gum of the poppy producing areas of Guerrero? How many ant-like smugglers are needed to extract the already obtained heroin in dozens of laboratories or kitchens as they are commonly called by drug lords? The heroin from Guerrero feeds more than half of the market of the US addicts. The Mexican drug invades the neighboring country: there not a glimpse of a doubt about that. And how does it get out of here? The daily traffic of opiates is concentrated at Iguala without any trouble. In the surroundings military blocks have been established whose purpose is to cover and protect these illicit shipments. They don’t have any other purpose than to cover the narcos.

In the precise moments, in the hours and for the convened vehicles, simply and conveniently they let these previously “approved” cars pass, that are not revised by orders of the authority. The commissioned policemen at the roadblocks have to look the other way or simply be absent when the superiors command so. This system of false vigilance has been traditionally the strainer for the racking of drugs, but with the appearance of an accomplished task.

I have consulted thousands of pages of the files about the joint aggression of authorities and criminals at Iguala and I found the DNA of the drug trafficking as the pretext and cause of the disappearance of 43 students, the killing of six persons and of further 40 wounded.

On the 4th of October 2014 one of the most experimented policemen of Iguala made his statement. Interrogated by the agent of the Public Ministry Miguel Ángel Cuevas Aparicio, that man started to describe this modus operandi consented now and then by the authorities of Iguala and the policemen in charge of the roadblocks.

Honorio Antúnez Osorio is no longer a youngster. But he was when he joined the 27th Infantry Battalion of Iguala, under the authority of the 35th Military Zone in 1984. After being part of it between 1991 and 1993, he joined the Regional Leadership of War Material Unit of the Ninth Military Area, he was sent to Ciudad Juárez for similar duties. He retired and, now in his forties, in 2006 he joined the Municipal Police of Iguala.

Today he is 51 years old and from 2012 on he was assigned to roadblocks filters and checkpoints at El Tomatal, El Naranjo and Loma de Coyotes in the outskirts of Iguala.

In September 2014 he was assigned to go to Loma de Coyotes on board the patrol No. 007, a double-cabin ranger, with his companions Alfonso Reyes Pascual, alias Guanchope, and Julio Salgado. There the former military Antúnez heard Reyes Pascual (or Rey Pascual) communicating via radio with another policemen called Vieyra, allias Taxco, who gave him instructions to, as soon as a red van of Civil Protection passed, “move all other elements from there and not to revise any vehicle”, as the official van was passing through, almost always followed by other vehicles, authorized to transport drugs and people that were under way to the settlement of El Naranjo, that is located at the exit of Taxco.

All shipments followed the same route of the heroin. Nearby is another roadblock that was under the command of the policeman Pánfilo Quintero, alias Pangola, and on other occasions by Rey Pascual, “who always was in company of his brother Marco Antonio Pascual, alias la Mula; they were always together”. In front of Fernando Pantoja and Pánfilo Quintero, “on one occasion I asked to my B12, Alfonso Reyes Pascual, alias Guanchope, why this vehicle was let through. That was none of my business, he answered, since it was of the ‘boss’. So I said: ‘of Valladares?’ a situation which bothered him even more and he screamed at me: “Keep your mouth shut!’; I should not mention the name of the boss”.

Honorio, the former military policeman states that he verified these facts with his companion Guadalupe Arriaga, whom, when the official van passed through said: “There goes this car again; they come to do their business and then they leave”, referring to the fact that they always met with Francisco Salgado Valladares, director of the Secretariat of the Public Security before entering Iguala, the same person that ordered on the 26th of September by radio and telephone the busses “no matter what”, by order precisely of A-5, codename under which the then Mayor José Luis Abarca was identified with.

The Chief, Francisco Salgado Valladares, who was urged to deter the busses from leaving Iguala, was no more and no less than the main controller of the passing of drugs and of the quantities that were dealt. Under no circumstance he would allow that a shipment already accounted by the Guerreros Unidos would get lost. It just was not possible that because of a logistical mistake of those responsible for the packing and placement of the drug inside the busses, or due to the ignorance of those who were abducting the busses, the drug would have an uncertain future, after being brokered and put in a way that no official revision could locate it, embarked already with a foreseen route and destination, with markets and shares assured.

They wouldn’t give him money to look to the other side, Honorio assures, but if they threatened him with sending him to the police station of Cocula, Municipality of Teloloapan, he would talk about the issue. That the tolerated van, with a circulation permit loaded with illicit cargo, he had mentioned, has the following characteristics: it is red, it has a turret, lights, a tube with two lights above; the back cover is white, it does not have rear plates. That I saw this vehicle at about 20 meters distance, as “my B12 (head of the group) Reyes Pascual ordered us to stay away from there” when that van was passing through.

The policewoman Verónica Bahena was in charge of warning her partner, Héctor Aguilar,alias el Chombo, when any military or federal police convoys was going through. They use the code 67, that meant “warning”, and also she informed directly the boss Salgado Valladares, so that they don’t clash or get across and that the vehicles loaded with drugs met the federal surveillance convoys.

For reporting on activity and movement, or simply for not opening their mouth, Guerreros Unidos distributed at least 2 thousand pesos monthly to each of the police-hawks, throughout their bosses, those who perceived most of the money. It was an allowance, because the police continued to perceive from public treasury and pretending that they were fulfilling their duties of surveillance.

The afternoon of the 26th

Another policeman, Salvador Herrera Román confirmed before the Public Ministry (14th of October 2014) that was commissioned in the post of revision that was is about 20 minutes away west of Iguala, just at the entrance of the town of Ahuehuepan, towards Teloloapan, and acting “under the orders of the third policeman Rey Flores”.

Besides from Salvador there are three other elements that use the patrol 09, a Ford with a cabin and a Matra Communication Radio that in this place did not work very well: “It has no good signal as the network is out”. Neither is there signal for cellular phones in Ahuehuepan.

The fatal 26th of September 2014 the policemen were heading as was the daily routine for their assault weapons, rifles .223 brand Beretta, and also pistols Beretta of 9 millimeters. There was no news about the roadblock. After lunch the commander Rey Flores passed by and ordered his men to do a “routine round” around town. “And what do we do with the roadblock? asked timidly the subordinates. The boss repeated the order sharply. It took them more or less 1 and a half hour in this weird and distracting task, without any reason, but leaving unattended the checkpoint. They know that in that period of time the drug crossed in official vehicles. They returned to the port of futile revision and spent the whole night there, until 7:30 am when the boss came over again to take them to the state police building.

These policemen of the checkpoint were told, now detained, to walk across a corridor until a basketball field. And in the way there they saw that there were several people hooded who were pointing their finger at them moving in an affirmative way.

“At around 11[:00] ‘o clock I learned that some football players had been to Iguala to play a football match and that there had been a mess, without knowing what it was about [not even to mention the students], reason why I am in the best willingness for the necessary tests to be realized for the clarification of the facts and that a verdict is made throughout rhodizonate or whatever means necessary, as the last time I shot was over a year ago, when I went to realize practices”, said innocently Salvador Herrera Román, whom his own boss had given over the authority, without any debt or necessity, according to his first statements.

The distracting maneuver realized by the boss Rey Flores, specifically on the 26th of September in the afternoon, with the subsequent abandoning of the checkpoint established in Ahuehuepan to revise every vehicle that passes through, has all the appearance to have become a heroin or opium-gum pass under the control of the superior commands.

The schedules fit so that the drug could have been placed or be programmed to be located within the Costa Line bus that arrived from México City to Iguala on Friday 26th at 18:30 hours and that it would leave, operated by Ismael Sánchez Hernández at 7:50 on the Saturday 27th back to the Federal District. More than 12 hours would pass during the stay of the mean of transport at the bus terminal of Iguala. The first 2 and a half hours, the driver was absent of the unit and returned for the keys, that he had casually left on the dashboard until 21 hours. Often the driver was not even aware if the bus under his responsibility was being for some illicit transport. This bus Costa Line 2510 was an ideal vehicle to be “loaded” with drugs.

As a matter of fact it could be any of the two, as the transport of persons go equally to the capital city as to Chilpancingo, Acapulco and other possible reception-delivery points of illicit cargo. There are even direct routes from Iguala to the northern border now, a matter which has never worried the anti-drugs authorities, nor do they find it suspicious.

The truth is that that it appears in the ministerial documents, the description of a proper and programmed omission west of Iguala. This happened at 17:00 hours, four hours before the onslaught against the students by orders of the sharp “stop them no matter what”.

Another possible carrier of the drug was the 2513 bus of Costa Line, that had just arrived from Acapulco and that the students could take, as the driver Alejandro Romero Bustos locked the students that were along since the entrance of Iguala. Afterwards he hid so that the students couldn’t find him. 

But the Interdisciplinary Group of International Experts (GIEI) found multiple irregularities related with the fifth bus, the Estrella Roja 3278, the last one to leave that night with the students and that went behind the bus terminal of Iguala bound for the Southern Beltway, which was stopped by the Federal Highway Police in front of the Palace of Justice, the young men were hopped off and threatened by the federal and municipal police forces, until they fled to the nearby hills.

The fifth bus taken by the students, the Estrella Roja 3278, “it was never identified nor investigated as a crime scene” nor of the disappearance of the students. This vehicle was “disappeared” of the official report of the Attorney’s General Office (PGR); the lie was said that it had remained unused by the students themselves as soon as they left the terminal of Iguala. The driver gave several contradictory testimonies. It was examined by experts in July 2015, 10 months after the onslaught. But….the bus was not the original one, but rather another that supplanted it! The log was altered, as if it had driven to Jojutla, but in reality it drove to Cuautla, both of the cities in the State of Morelos.

“The circumstances are given in which the only [among six busses] that was not attacked that fateful night of Iguala. The action to take the bus on behalf of the students could have crossed over with the existence of the illicit drugs or money inside one of the busses, specifically in the one of Estrella Roja”, concluded experts of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH).

The transport of tons of opium-gum and heroin to and from Iguala is operated through passenger busses and cargo trucks, within tractors, private vehicles and public transport routes that connect nearby settlements. Are there more economic and handy ways of getting the drug out of the poppy fields up to Chicago, Illinois, Los Angeles, California or any other city of the neighboring country that will end up in the veins, mouths, noses and throats of the US-American addicts?

To transport drugs or cash, equally inside Mexico as through the northern border with the United States, nails or secret compartment built specifically, that in most occasions get through checkpoints, borders and any type of controls (electronic, laser rays, metal detectors, dogs, etc.), but thanks to, always and mainly to the element that usually oils the gears of corruption with generous bribing. It is also possible to take the cargo in gas distribution trucks, in tires or tied in the most unlikely places, under containers, or beneath a motor of the tractor or bus (air conditioning, under the gear box, around the fuel tank, under the bed in which the drivers rest behind the driver’s seat), or simply in suitcases inside the baggage compartment, with or without double bottom, all of it in some passenger bus.

As far as it is known, there is no investigation about the shipment of opiates from Iguala; despite that the PGT presumed that it did, without giving further details.

It is being inquired, but in the United States where the authorities captured half a dozen US-Mexican citizens, that are facing federal charges in a court in Chicago, Illinois, precisely for having designed a transportation structure- they created two legal enterprises- to move heroin and opium-gum in passenger busses and, in these same vehicles, returned millions of dollars to Mexico.

Pablo Vega Cuevas, 40 years old, and his brother-in-law Alejandro Figueroa of 37 years age, on December 2004, when they were arrested and the transport in busses was exhibited, they moved to the GIEI to ask the intelligence agencies of the US for information about this alleged cell of the Guerreros Unidos in Chicago, Illinois and the City of Oklahoma.

Stop them no matter what!

“Capture them all!”, shouted on that night of September the radio operator José Natividad Elías Moreno, according to what said the municipal traffic supervisor Francisco Narciso Campos.

Nevertheless he was acting under the precise orders of the then Secretary of Public Security, Francisco Salgado Valladares, the same person that authorized the passing of the loaded vans through the checkpoint, giving the order not to revise them.

Even beyond transmitting his orders to the radio operator, Salgado Valladares personally called several patrols to deter the youngsters and the busses from leaving Iguala.

Even in ministerial testimonies it appears that Salgado Valladares issued the “Stop them no matter what!” by precise instructions of the former mayor Abarca, but the fault and the responsibilities are no that local, they don’t remain in the municipal level, but rather of the state, and above all at the federal level that allowed this rottenness to progress.

David Cruz Hernández, alias el Chino, employee of the Municipal Civil Protection of Iguala asked his commander Federico León Rubio to send him to cover the football match between the local team of Iguala and the Avispones of Chilpancingo, instead of being at the event of the Report of the National System for Integral Family Development by María de los Ángeles Pineda, spouse of the former mayor, at the main square of the Municipal Palace. He left on board a Ford van with the plates PC-03:

“At the end of the first half (21:15 hours), the team of Iguala was winning by 1-0 and at that moment I heard on the portable radio that was reporting from the base of Civil Protection the code 200, that means ‘shootings’; it was reportedly at the square of the Municipal Palace of Iguala”.

El Chino went to the place and in the way he heard by the frequencies of the police that there were wounded people at the level of the Chipote Bridge. When passing by that place he saw that three or four vans of the municipal police were impeding the passage of two busses. Out of these vehicles “hopped off approximately 40 persons, all civilians, some of them carrying fire arms, rifle type, but I did not hear shots and some of them boarded a van model Urvan, white color, of the public service and others boarded a Suburban van, and immediately headed bound to the district of Loma de los Pajaritos”. The policemen did nothing to stop them (if it was true that they were armed, they would be hitmen of the Guerreros Unidos, as none of the rural students was carrying any weapon and even less a shotgun or rifle).

Again with the radio,David Cruz el Chino learned that there had been a wounded person near the beltway, on Juan Álvarez Avenue, “thus I went to that place and when I arrived I observed that there were several municipal policemen safeguarding the place, as well as diverting the cars circulating…all policemen were hooded” (Were they policemen, or were there hitmen or even military personnel in black among them?).

The experts of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Claudia Paz –of Guatemala-, Ángela Buitrago and Alejandro Valencia –of Colombia-, the Chilean Francisco Cox and the Spaniard Carlos Martín Berinstáin, were right when they asked the times and circumstances of the occupation of the busses to be perfectly clarified:

“At first there are two busses taken by the students; in these they are going to take another vehicle. There is a third bus that the students take at the place called House of the Priest (Casa del Cura) or the Huitzuco Crossing (on the road before the entrance to Iguala), in which some students hop on to go to the Bus Terminal of Iguala. When they arrive at the terminal [the youngsters] are locked in and cannot step out. They call their fellow students and the two first busses head for the terminal. In that second scenario there are already three busses. Out of there exit five vehicles. Each one has different courses or routes”.

Everything pointed out that one of the three taken busses in Iguala could have escaped the shooting line, death and the disappearances, because it was not reported at any car deposit, nor was it put under expert’s opinion for having received shots. Simply it does not appear in the act with an economic number nor plates, and according to witnesses of several students and the rest of drivers, it was an Estrella Roja del Sur bus that passed by the road bound for Chilpancingo after 21:00 hours, apparently without encountering policemen or hitmen nor anyone else that ordered them to stop. It was too good to be true. In truth, despite having taken the highway, leaving Iguala behind, close to the Palace of Justice it was detained in a revision post of the Federal Highway Police; a policeman pointed his gun, he shouted: “You sons of a bitch, stop!”. The youngsters went back and climbed up some staircases near the so-called Cerro de la Bandera (Flag Hill), while the policemen were shooting and screaming: “Stop you assholes, or we are going to screw you!”. Ten of the youngsters found asylum at a women’s house, where they remained until the dawn of the 27th, when they met with several companions and all of them went before the Public Ministry. The other four walked for hours, crossed a hill and finally reached a refuge with a family, until 5:00 in the morning when they went to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Northern Area. It must be stated out that the students presented themselves voluntarily to declare as they did not commit any crime, nor the slightest hint of illegal behavior to hide. This appearance before the authorities shows for itself, that the students were the only aggressed ones.

This entire covert maneuver explains the result of hundreds of deaths, abductions, found in mass graves and disappeared in Iguala and its surroundings in the months following, a horror that was revealed after the infame and absurd disappearances of the 43 at Ayotzinapa.

“The September 2014 crimes are only the most recent ones of a long story of atrocities in Guerrero”, as suggests the discovery of dozens of new mass graves with corpses, says the report of Open Society.

Out of 80 criminal groups identified in Mexico, 26 have their seat in Guerrero, he says citing Contralínea. “Intelligence Documents reveal that the federal government suspected at least 12 municipal presidents of Guerrero, 8 of them affiliated to the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), had allegedly links with criminal organizations”, it assures at page 13, where it assigns the Army due to the lack of confidence in the local authorities, that would have taken control over 13 Mayor’s Offices in Guerrero.  

Out of 19,434 first-degree murders registered officially in the State of Guerrero from 2005 until 2014, none of the years this has reached 10 percent of the guilty verdict. No one has been assigned in a long history of enforced disappearances and torture. “The impunity has been absolute”.

Meanwhile all over Guerrero its Prosecutor’s Office registered 239 denouncements for disappearances in 7 years, only in Iguala with the “other disappearances” they sum up 273. If the 43 of Ayotzinapa are added and at least 100 in the municipality of Chilapa, and several dozens in Cocula, we are speaking of a tragedy of colossal dimensions that had remained hidden before the disappearances of the 43 rural students in Iguala.

As for the heroin, the business is so prosperous that there are subsidiaries of the Guerreros Unidos in Chicago, Illinois. This was discovered by the US Anti-Drugs Agency in over a year of telephone tapping to Pablo Vega, alias the Transformer, and his associates, who stocked in excess at Aurora, Batavia and other suburbs of Chicago. As well as there are registers of the quantities of hundreds of thousands of dollars for each shipment (and they are several once a week), there appear both bus lines that the drug traffickers created: Vulcano and Monarca, in the States of Guanajuato and Zacatecas, and the codes used for the busses (tía/aunt), for the packages of drugs (niños/children), for the nails or hidden compartments (cartera/wallet), or for the money that returned to Mexico in the same busses (documentos/documents), according to what found out the telephone tapping of the US intelligence services from the Guerreros Unidos.

So it is not casual that there were several telephones tapped that communicated on a daily basis with the dialing code 733, i.e., Iguala.


José Reveles*


(Translated by: Axel Plasa)








Contralínea 456 / del 28 de Septiembre al 04 de Octubre 2015