The Order Came from Above: The Sinaloa Narco Settles Things with Commander ‘Little Rooster’ – by Cristián Díaz (Ríodoce)

~ This article was originally published by Ríodoce on March 29, 2015 ~
Photo: Ríodoce

Photo: Ríodoce

The day before an armed group assassinated José Guadalupe Guerrero Reyes, the director of Public Safety for Badiraguato, he was supervising security for the spring carnival in the town.

As the Tierra Blanca band prepared to play in the plaza, Gallito [‘Little Rooster’], a nickname earned because of his habit of rising early, went to the office of Mayor Mario Valenzuela López to eat some bocadillos at the Panamá restaurant.

It was around 12:30 at night, that Sunday, when Gallito and the mayor met again in Badiraguato’s plaza. Music was playing.

Boss, you came back? Guerrero Reyes said to the mayor, a tone of curiosity in his voice because he knew he had already gone back to his house for a spell.

–Yes…

–What for?

–I came to be with my brothers. They are here. They told me they were still here. I worry, you know, and I don’t like it that they are still here. Haven’t you seen Torres? Have you seen my brother?

–Yes, there they are with that group.

–Let’s head on over.

Accompanied by four police officers, Valenzuela López and Guerrero Reyes walked over to one side of the square. In front of the municipal building and the church they met up with a group of people including the mayor’s brothers. They chatted for a bit.

–Boss, let’s go to the disco. A lot of girls are there – the police chief ventured, but the mayor rejected the idea.

Guerrero Reyes was infamous for his amorous ways. He had eight children. Three with his first wife. Three with the wife from Badiraguato who is now his widow. And two more children with a woman from Guasave.

At around three in the morning, the chief of police walked the mayor of Badiraguato to his truck where they said goodbye. Neither imagined it would be the last conversation they would have.

–Boss, I am going to rest up for a bit because I am going to Culiacán at around eleven. I´ll see you Tuesday first thing for that evaluation meeting.

–For sure, commander. Good luck. Whatever you need – those were the last words between the two men.

The Last Day the Rooster Crowed
On Sunday, Guadalupe Guerrero Reyes left for Culiacán in his bulletproof Cherokee, headed to see his wife and his three children. Along the way he passed through Charaparahueto, a small town near Badiraguato. He would have breakfast with an acquaintance.

Gallito was a strict police officer but he was loved. He took charge on January 1, 2014 and “came to execute a new security strategy,” in the words of mayor Mario Valenzuela López.

“He began to confiscate motorbikes and he even got those who weren’t wearing helmets. He did the same with speeding cars… With him came the strengthening of municipal security. He had a firm hand but was understanding and diplomatic so that he could get people to agree,” says Valenzuela López.

Guerrero Reyes was very close to Jesús Aguilar Iñiguez, director of the state police force. Chuytoño, as Aguilar Iñiguez is known, looked on him like his son. He trained Guerrero Reyes when he was in the prosecutor’s police force. And as Guerrero Reyes used to say, he could always count on him if the director asked.

In 2010 he served as a commander in the state police, assigned to head base 38 in Mazatlán. Sometime after he was named as its commander, he was attacked outside his home in Colonia Libertad. He wasn’t injured because he was in a bulletproof vehicle and received backup from special groups belonging to the prosecutor’s police force. But on March 22, 2015 Gallito’s luck ran out.

At around nine that evening, three of his children came to visit on a “razer” – an All Terrain Vehicle – passing through the streets of Culiacán’s Bosques de Humaya neighborhood.

According to extra-official sources, the commander saw a truck outside his house. He thought that it was one of his daughters by his first wife. Sometimes on Sundays they used to drive around in circles because they knew he would be in the ATV and they were going to ask him for money.

Guerrero Reyes told his son who was driving the ATV that to pull over and let him climb into the vehicle. “I am going to see if it is those plebs. Scoot over.”

He took control of the ATV and as soon as he left the vacant lot, the truck that was following him took off. Another two trucks intercepted him, blocking the way. Gallito immediately took out his pistol.

–Lower your weapon. Lower your gun! – they started shouting at him.

–I am not going to lower it, you bastard!

–You’ve got kids with you. Lower your weapon!

–Don’t shoot the kids.

–Well, then drop your weapon. If you don’t, we’ll shoot.

Guerrero Reyes complied and when he did they took the two smallest children from the vehicle. Gallito did not realize that his eleven year-old son was still in the ATV when somebody approached the commander from behind and shot him.

Photo: Ríodoce

Photo: Ríodoce

Lines of Investigation
Extra-official sources informed Ríodoce that there are two probable lines of inquiry into the execution of José Guadalupe Guerrero Reyes. One concerns an event that took place last November in Badiraguato in which three cousins died, the other concerns a financial debt.

In the early morning of November 24, 2014, three youths were shot by Badiraguato municipal police officers. The police reports suggests that the three were killed after opening fire on officers who had stopped the Mustang they were driving.

The confrontation led to a pursuit that culminated when the youths crashed into a utility pole located in front of the police station. Two of the dead were identified as Gregorio Quintero Quiñonez and César Alonso López Quintero. The officers found a gun and an assault rifle but they did not give further details about the weapons. According to the available details, Guerrero Reyes was present during the confrontation.

Another version suggests that officers, not the youths, were the first to shoot, and that when the police discovered the dead were unarmed they planted the weapons to make it seem the youths had shot first.

“Somebody very high up ordered Gallito’s murder. And it’s someone from Badiraguato,” according to a source that spoke to Ríodoce.

Commander José Guadalupe Guerrero Reyes… ¡Presente!
It was a day like no other for Sinaloa’s police force. That morning they prepared to receive Gallito, to pay their respects and send him off before they moved his body to the Renacimiento Cemetery.

Around eleven in the morning police sirens heralded the arrival of Commander Guerrero’s corpse. They lowered the coffin and placed on it the figure of a small golden rooster. A bigger version sat on the ground at the feet of the coffin.

Their faces showed sorrow. The Secretary of Public Safety for Sinaloa, Genaro García Castro, patted the back of state police director Chuytoño on more than one occasion. The director did not want to say anything to reporters but when he gave his speech, he could not keep his voice from breaking, and his eyes teared up. The police chief shared with the group some of the moments he experienced with the murdered commander.

Neither could Mayor Mario Valenzuela control his emotion, letting some tears spill. It was his task to pass the microphone to Pollito, the dead man’s son. The youngster showed his resolve, even though wails cut short his words. His mother looked on.

“The man that’s over there. I have had the honor of being his son for eleven years. Those eleven years were like the seasons. Happy, sad and difficult times. With and without money. We experienced a bit of everything,” he said.

His father, he added, “was smart not to shoot, not to speed away, because if he had shot or if he had accelerated me and my brothers would not be here now.”

Aguilar Iñiguez reported that he and Guerrero Reyes were in important operations together: in 2011 they located those responsible for the events that took place in October 2011 at the Antares nightclub in Mazatlán.

In September 2012, he arrested one of the North’s most infamous criminals, Giovanni Lizárraga in the city of Los Mochis. And in January of that year he caught the kidnappers of three Sinaloan businessman.

Journalist Cristián Díaz reports for Ríodoce, an online, investigative news website based in Culiacán, Sinaloa. The article was published under the title, “La orden vino de arriba: Narco, Badiraguato y deudas, tras la ejecución del comandante ‘Gallito’,” available at: http://riodoce.mx/noticias/la-orden-vino-de-arriba-narco-badiraguato-y-deudas-tras-la-ejecucion-del-comandante-gallito.

TBI Translator Patrick Timmons (@patricktimmons) is a freelance journalist, independent human rights investigator, and adjunct professor of Political Science and faculty affiliate at the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso.

About Michael Lettieri

Program Officer at the Trans-Border Institute

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