The Case of Felix Batista ResurfacesMay 15th, 2009 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Organized Crime
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THE BORDER REPORT
Poring over an FBI intel report this afternoon that focuses on the Zetas, I came across an interesting piece of conjecture that a snitch had passed over about a U.S. citizen killed in Mexico in December. If you’ll recall, that was the month a kidnapping expert was himself kidnapped. According to the snitch in this report, the victim was picked up and murdered, then his killers intended to send his head back as a message to U.S. law enforcement.
The report, a law enforcement intel bulletin published by the FBI, focuses on the growing influence of the Zetas in the United States.
The report itself is enlightening just from the concern law enforcement has over the Zetas’ move into the country. In many ways, such a move is a logical next step for the Zetas, arguably Mexico’s newest drug trafficking gang. Beholden to nobody since the 2003 arrest of Osíel Cardenas Guíllen, the gang demonstrated early on its willingness to engage in firefights, then rented itself out to more established narco-families like the Beltrán Leyvas in Sinaloa and Sonora.
Now, the FBI seems to think they’re establishing their own markets throughout the U.S. and uses a few examples to say so.
In January 2009, the Feds had talked to a prison gang member in the Rio Grande Valley area, where the Zetas are busy establishing networks with prison gangs, Hermanos de Pistoleros Latinos, Texas Syndicate and Mexican Mafia. The Hermanos are trying to become the Zetas sole enforcer along the Rio Grande Valley. Meanwhile, the narcos themselves have been expanding into the Dallas market, running surveillance on local drug dealers since at least 2008 and threatening to kill any dealers who won’t buy directly from the Zetas.
A year ago, the Feds popped a buyer in Tennessee who was buying coke and weed from the Zetas and setting up distribution networks to the East Coast.
Then there was this, which makes me think of Felix Batista. Batista was not a law enforcement officer but even Mexican media, I’ve noticed, kept referring to him as FBI and DEA, and that makes me wonder if whomever kidnapped him didn’t also presume he was a cop.
Here’s the key graf from the report:
“In December 2008, an FBI source … indicated that a Los Zetas commander orchestrated the kidnapping and subsequent murder of a US person in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico. The kidnappers believed the individual was a former law enforcement officer. The victim was decapitated with the intent to return his head to the United States to ‘send a message.'”
There was only one person who made the news after disappearing in Saltillo that month and that was Felix Batista.
The Cuban-American negotiator worked with a Houston firm, ASI Global, a security consulting firm that contracts out to executives working in foreign countries. In December, ASI president Charlie LeBlanc told the Washington Post that Batista is a former major in the U.S. Army and only worked with ASI as an independent contractor.
Batista had arrived in Coahuila to give a presentation on kidnapping and security and was dining with colleagues in an upscale restaurant. His cell rang and he answered it, then he handed his laptop and bag to a companion along with a list of phone numbers and instructions on who to call if he didn’t return. He stepped outside where a car was waiting for him.
A surveillance tape recorded a man clapping him on the back as if they knew and were glad to see each other and Batista climbed in. He’s never been heard from since.
Late last month, Z-25, Germán Torres Jiménez, was arrested in Veracruz. Along with the accusation that he controlled a slice of the Tamaulipas corridor for the Zetas, Torres was also fingered as dueño of the Saltillo plaza and implicated in Batista’s kidnapping.
Batista’s body has never been found.