The arrest of “Socialitos,” Beltran Leyva Cartel’s financial kingpin

Mexican forces capture Socialitos, financial strategist for Beltran Leyva Cartel, in a special operation while the cartel's influence wanes.

In a significant operation, Mexican federal forces successfully apprehended Norberto “N,” commonly known as Socialitos. Recognized as the primary and perhaps final financial strategist for the Beltran Leyva Cartel, his capture marks a noteworthy blow to the organization.

The arrest occurred in a residential subdivision within Sayavedra County, situated in the municipality of Atizapán de Zaragoza, in Edomex. The Secretariat of the Mexican Navy (Semar) detailed that their special forces, in conjunction with members of the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (FGR), executed the arrest warrant against Socialitos. The charges brought against him include “alleged crimes against health, operations of resources of illicit origin, and criminal association.”

Given his pivotal role, Norberto N. was high on the federal authorities’ radar. They perceived him as either one of the last or, indeed, the very last financial orchestrator of the criminal syndicate.

A glimpse into Socialitos’ operations

The financial operator for Beltran Leyva's cartel, Socialitos.

It was in the northeast of Mexico that Socialitos wielded his financial influence. According to Milenio Televisión, there might be an outstanding arrest warrant for his extradition to the United States, given the gravity of his involvement in money laundering.

Previously, on March 24, 2018, Socialitos became the target of an assassination attempt by multiple hitmen from the Northeast Cartel in a bustling shopping plaza in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. Fortunately for him, his well-equipped bodyguards thwarted the attempt on his life.

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Federal data further reveals Socialitos’ intricate web. He operated through a network of five companies, predominantly based in the municipality of San Pedro Garza García and Monterrey. These establishments played an instrumental role in laundering assets on behalf of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel. The scale of this operation was staggering, with laundered funds from these companies exceeding one billion pesos.

Beltran Leyva cartel in decline

Arturo Beltran Leyva

The US Congress’ report titled “Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations” provides a comprehensive view of the cartel’s diminishing power. The Beltran Leyva Cartel, once a formidable force, no longer holds sway over any specific state. This decline began with the assassination of Arturo Beltran Leyva in 2009 and was further exacerbated by the subsequent arrest of Carlos Beltran Leyva.

Yet, it would be premature to consider the cartel completely vanquished. Despite their setbacks, remnants of the organization, which formerly allied with the mighty Sinaloa Cartel, operate in several states. These include Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, Queretaro, Mexico State, Puebla, Oaxaca, and Chiapas.

In summary, the capture of Socialitos represents a significant stride in the ongoing battle against organized crime in Mexico. Yet, the continued presence of the Beltran Leyva Cartel in several states serves as a stark reminder that the fight is far from over.