It was an early morning in August 2020, in Nuevo Laredo’s Sandía neighborhood, when Guadalupe Villareal Gomez, better known as La Teniente, was arrested in a non-violent operation by Mexico’s National Defense Secretariat (Sedena). The move was a severe blow to the Northeast Cartel (CDN). Charged with aggravated homicide, criminal association, and crimes against public servants, Villareal Gomez was also found with a military-grade firearm and doses of fentanyl.
Her arrest wasn’t the only high-profile one: Juan Gerardo Treviño, the leader of the Northeast Cartel, was apprehended on March 14, 2022, and subsequently extradited to the United States.
Life Behind Bars: A Sordid Tale of Power and Control
After her arrest, Villareal Gomez was transferred to the Women’s Social Reinsertion Center Santa Martha Acatitla in Mexico City. Far from diminishing, her influence seemed to flourish. A recent investigation by Latinus disclosed that she effectively ruled the prison, overseeing the flow of drugs and alcohol and engaging in corruption and extortion.
Villareal Gomez became infamous among inmates for her brand of merciless authority. “Before leaving, she threatened them and promised them that she would return,” reported inmates interviewed by Latinus. She was eventually moved to a more secure federal prison on October 12, but not before leaving a chilling mark on those she left behind.
According to one inmate, a member of the prison’s population of 1,378 women as of March 2023, Villareal Gomez and complicit prison guards even allowed celebrations where pizzas, alcohol, and drugs were distributed. She reportedly held these parties on various occasions, one being the Day of Love and Friendship.
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The Criminal Career of ‘La Teniente’
So, who exactly is Guadalupe Villareal Gomez? Known as the right-hand person of Juan Gerardo Treviño, she was deeply involved in the operations of the CDN. Among her many roles, she managed informants known as “halcones” who monitored law enforcement and rival groups. She also took charge of bars and nightclubs in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, overseeing a range of illegal activities, including drug dealing, human trafficking, extortion, torture, and murder.
Additionally, Villareal Gomez served as the bodyguard of Sofía del Carmen Monsiváis Treviño, a niece of another notorious cartel figure, Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, also known as ‘El Z-40’. Moreover, she was involved in buying protection from authorities across multiple levels of government and played a crucial role in recruitment for the Northeast Cartel.
A Chapter in the Violent History of the CDN
The Northeast Cartel is essentially a splinter group that broke away from Los Zetas, still operating along the Mexico-United States border. Its evolution and the ensuing brutality it has engendered speak volumes about Mexico’s fractured yet evolving landscape of organized crime.
Villareal Gomez’s arrest and subsequent prison tenure serve as a haunting window into Mexican cartels’ dark and complex world. As law enforcement agencies continue their struggle to dismantle such criminal enterprises, the tale of La Teniente remains a chilling testament to the power and reach of organized crime.