The wife of imprisoned Mexican drug baron Hector Beltrán Leyva was arrested on Tuesday, September 13, cutting short her efforts to revive the Beltrán Leyva cartel, the infamous trafficking group her husband once led.
Mexico’s federal police released a statement that said Clara Elena Laborín Archuleta was captured the northern city of Hermosillo. Laborín Archuleta — a.k.a. La Señora — was reportedly organizing an incursion into Acapulco, an area that was once the unquestioned turf of the Beltrán Leyva cartel. Her name has appeared in dozens of “narco banners” and messages left around the southern resort cityover the past year. The city’s homicide rate has spiraled, turning Acapulco into Mexico’s most dangerous municipality in 2016.
A source associated with the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, the group that has held sway the city in recent years, said La Señora’s effort to retake control was backed by an alliance with the growing Jalisco New Generation Cartel. He said the current turf war began after she tried and failed to negotiate a takeover on a visit to Acapulco, where she was reportedly guarded by a squad of Jalisco hitmen known as Los Rusos.
When Laborín Archuleta was detained on Monday, she was allegedly caught with two kilos of cocaine and firearms. Her arrest came just under two years after her husband, known as El H, was taken into police custody, a development that was widely assumed to be the final nail in the coffin for the once-mighty Beltrán Leyva cartel.
El H and his three brothers — Arturo, Alfredo, and Carlos — belong to the generation of traffickers from the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa that rose to prominence in the 1980s. The brothers worked closely with their cousin, the legendary Sinaloan trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, until 2008, when the brothers blamed Chapo for the arrest of Alfredo. The dispute triggered a war that involved the retaliatory killing one of Guzmán’s sons.
Carlos Beltrán Leyva was arrested in December 2009, and Arturo, the family’s reputed leader, died in a Scarface-style shootout with navy special forces a few days later. The chaos caused the cartel to fracture, and it appeared destined for irrelevance by the time Hector was detained in 2014 in a seafood restaurant in the tourist town of San Miguel de Allende.
Talk of a comeback gathered steam in the past year, particularly after El Chapo was recaptured in January. Some Beltrán Leyva offspring have also reportedly been seeking revenge on El Chapo’s organization while he awaits extradition to the US. One of Alfredo’s sons was reportedly involved in attacks in June near the Sinaloa village where Chapo built his mother a mansion, and where the Beltrán Leyvas also spent their childhoods.