A burned rancher and his employee: the wake of the fight against the expansion of organized crime in Nuevo León

The Rumorosa ranch where the two charred bodies were found in Villaldama, Nuevo León.
The Rumorosa ranch where the two charred bodies were found in Villaldama, Nuevo León.Nuevo León Prosecutor’s Office

It was only the second day of the year. In Salinas Victoria, a town of 13,000 inhabitants 35 kilometers from Monterrey, an armed group took a ranch by force and opened fire on a group of police officers from that town. Reinforcements arrived and managed to capture 10 individuals armed with large calibers. In the chaos, some managed to escape in groups through the endless unpopulated roads of the north. On their way they found some ranches that served as refuge. The perfect hiding place to avoid military searches and await new orders. With the days, the owner and one of his employees arrived. When the authorities managed to reach the place, they found two charred bodies. The suspects had fled in the victim’s stolen van, and were killed in an accident when the vehicle rolled over with police hot on their heels.

The death of the cattle businessman Gustavo Levy and his employee, whose name has not been released, have shocked the local population in a new wave of violence in Nuevo León. Levy was known in the trade for being one of the founders of the Mexican Association of Beefmaster Cattle Breeders, with awards and medals for livestock merit and ecosystem preservation. His ranch was simply on the so-called “highway of death,” the escape route from Monterrey to Nuevo Laredo used by the armed group that the Northeast Cartel belongs to as it ventured into new territories. Civil Force has detailed that the identity card “comes from the neighboring State of Tamaulipas, seeking to settle in points in the north of Nuevo León.”

The fugitive group had been entrenched at the ranch for several days. They had long arms, chargers, bulletproof vests, and drugs in their possession. They were fleeing crossfire between security forces and the criminal group five days earlier in Salinas Victoria, just an hour from Levy’s property.

They were moments of terror that Gerardo Palacios, Secretary of Public Security, detailed on his Twitter account. “Upon being surprised, members of organized crime fired at Salinas Victoria police officers. Civil Force, Ministerial Police, municipal, National Guard and Army, who came in support, were received with 50-caliber bullets, he reported. The confrontation on that Monday, January 2, was a response to the dismantling of a “complete cell” on December 23, according to Palacios. Two Civil Force policemen and a municipal uniformed man lost their lives in that exchange of bullets in the middle of the street. There were also two suspects killed and 10 detainees, including a 15-year-old teenager.

After the shootings, the group became “atomized” and had to be pursued separately. Some of them decided to take another ranch by force, one dedicated to raising the imposing brown Beefmaster cows. There was a couple of workers that live on the property from Monday to Friday. They were forbidden to leave, they were kept captive there until Thursday, when the owner and a companion arrived. The criminals were under the influence of drugs and “instantly” killed Gustavo Levy and his employee.

That day, five of the criminals decided to return home. They had not received orders from their commanders in Nuevo Laredo and they had a whole police and military deployment tracking them very closely. They left with the red truck that they had stolen from the farm workers. They had traveled a few kilometers along the highway towards Colombia, at the border, when they met agents of the Civil Force and the persecution began. The vehicle overturned and the five who were traveling in it died.

The comrade who was guarding the two charred bodies was surprised by the municipal police when he went to buy a soft drink in the city. The agents found a long weapon hidden in a backpack and the suspect did not want to separate because he could not return to Nuevo Laredo without the weapons, not without paying “a heavy consequence” in the structure of the criminal area, according to Palacios. Another was detained at a hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg. Three others escaped.

“It was an absurd and reckless incursion,” said Palacios, who stressed that the criminal group’s intentions to spread through Nuevo León cost the police many casualties, but also the cartel. “This is the way we defend ourselves in Nuevo León,” he said in an unwavering tone. The secretary took advantage of the press conference to reiterate the need to continue expanding security resources, helicopters, barracks and increase the number of agents in rural areas to keep armed confrontations away from the metropolis. Although, this time, the strategy did not prevent the death of two civilians.

Carolina Levy, daughter of the deceased, has fired her father on social networks with an emotional text in which she denounces the growing insecurity in the area. “This is also a requiem for the peace that has been taken from us in our beloved lands in the north of the country,” she has posted on Instagram. “They have stripped us of that walk that we enjoyed flooded with that free calm when walking their paths. We will unite again, my beloved sierra, you will revive and we will return with more strength in the Mexico that we long for, ”she adds.

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