Five leaders of the Barrio Azteca gang were arrested on 10 January in a sting operation organized on intelligence gathered from a four-year long operation to unravel prison gangs on the US-Mexico border. The Barrio Azteca gang started in the southwest
But the Barrio Azteca is not exactly small time. It was founded in 1986 within the US prison system and quickly spread to the Segundo Barrio neighborhood of El Paso, where it boosted membership among the Mexican immigrant community there before moving into the prison system in Ciudad Juarez, where it may have up to 2,000 members by now.
After making a link with the Carrillo-Fuentes DTO, based in Ciudad Juarez, the Barrio Azteca gang negotiated a deal to receive drugs at a discounted rate and the right to charge a fee to any retail-level dealer working on their turf in exchange for providing security services for the Mexican DTO as well as helping with north-south movement of drugs, people, guns, etc as the DTO needed.
Through the Carrillo-Fuentes DTO, the Barrio Azteca gang is loosely connected with the Sinaloa Federation, a grouping of a number of powerful drug trafficking organizations, making its role in El Paso all the more important. Much of the black tar heroin coming out of Mexico is smuggled through El Paso and on to Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, and Chicago.
Considering Barrio Azteca’s ties with the Sinaloa Federation in El Paso, it is not a jump to consider how other street gangs in other border towns, such as San Diego, or Laredo, have become options for outsourcing security and local-level drug dealing as well as intelligence gathering. The Mara Salvatrucha in
Meanwhile, in neighboring
Already underway in the