TIJUANA, Mexico—On Friday mornings before daybreak, trucks bearing the slogan “Free as the wind” deliver tens of thousands of newspapers to an old-fashioned network of vendors, who stand at intersections across the city, right up to the line at the United States’ busiest border crossing, handing hot-off-the-press newsprint to groggy international commuters.
The small team of intrepid reporters who keep the weekly newspaper, Zeta, stocked with some of the country’s most fearless journalism were under heavy police protection this week, after state authorities anonymously warned the editorial staff of an impending attack, in retaliation for last week’s front-page story: “The Jalisco Cartel’s Most Wanted.”
By Monday it became apparent that among the thousands who read the story was a cartel operative nicknamed Goofy, whose face was plastered across the cover, along with seven other members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartelplus one from the Sinaloa cartel.
The plan to shoot up the newspaper’s headquarters has been, apparently, postponed, in light of the heavy police presence now at Zeta headquarters.
But what happened this week is hardly new for the weekly publication, which has a long history of standing up to the cartels operating in the city.
The story that upset local members of Jalisco New Generation was just official state confirmation of an open secret. According to the DEA this cartel has become the fastest growing drug trade organization in Mexico since splintering from the Sinaloa cartel in 2010, exploding in the last year after taking over territory once controlled by the quasi-religious Knights Templar cartel.
The poorly kept secret is that the Jalisco New Generation Cartel has aligned itself with what remains of the crippled Tijuana cartel, which was founded by the Arellano Felix brothers. In their heyday they were responsible for 40 percent of the cocaine entering the U.S., but their organization has—through death or arrests—been largely eradicated from the local scene. . .