Although born in Matamoros, Flores Borrego was closely linked to the city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, where he served as the Gulf cartel's regional leader on and off for many years after serving as a policeman during the governorship of Tomás Yarrington (1998-2004) – the peak era of the Gulf cartel.
The Mexican authorities believe that Flores Borrego is responsible for the split of The Gulf Cartel and The Los Zetas Organization, a cartel originally formed by deserters of the Mexican Army Special Forces hired in the late 1990s as the private army of the Gulf cartel. While operating in Reynosa in early 2010, Flores Borrego ordered the abduction and execution of a leader of Los Zetas. After the slaying, Los Zetas demanded Flores Borrego's death and threatened to go to war if the Gulf cartel did not had over the assassin. Nonetheless, Flores Borrego ignored their demands and consequently broke the organization's alliance.
On 2 September 2011, Flores Borrego was found dead along with a local police officer on the outskirts of the border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas. The Mexican authorities indicated that he had been killed by members within his own criminal group over disagreements and territorial disputes.
Gulf-Zeta cartels splitEdit
In the late 1990s, Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, the former leader of The Gulf Cartel, began recruiting members of the Mexican Army to protect his territory, personnel, and drug trafficking operations. These original deserters, who were known as The Los Zetas Organization, came from the Special Forces squadron of the army, arguably the best trained branch of the Mexican military. Upon the arrest and extradition of Cárdenas Guillén in 2003 and 2007 respectively, Los Zetas strengthen its role in the Gulf cartel, but managed to retain its alliance. Nonetheless, that alliance lasted until early 2010, when disagreements reached a turning point. On 18 January 2010, several members of the Gulf cartel kidnapped Víctor Peña Mendoza, a leader of Los Zetas nicknamed Concord 3 and a close associate and friend of Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, alias Z-40. When he was held captive, Peña Mendoza was asked to switch alliances and join the Gulf cartel, but he refused, earning a beating and an execution, presumably carried out by Flores Borrego.
Treviño Morales heard about the incident and issued an ultimatum to Flores Borrego and Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez: "Hand over the assassin of my friend, you son of a bitch ... You have until the 25th, if you don't comply, there will be war."
Both of the Gulf cartel leaders ignored the command, and Treviño Morales did not wait to avenge the death of his friend. On 30 January 2010, Treviño Morales kidnapped and slaughtered 16 Gulf cartel members in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, marking the start of the cartel war between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas in the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, and Veracruz that has left thousands of people killed. Los Zetas used violent and intimidatory tactics to expand, emerging a notorious reputation as Mexico's most violent drug trafficking organization. Nonetheless, it managed to take control of most of the territories owned by the Gulf cartel when they had essentially served as a single organization.
On 2 September 2011, the Mexican authorities discovered the bullet-ridden corpse of Flores Borrego inside a Ford Lobo truck on the Mexican Federal Highway 40, which connects Reynosa with Monterrey and is directly across the U.S-border with McAllen, Texas. His body was found along with the corpse of a high-ranking policeman named Eloy Lerma García from Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Tamaulipas. Initial reports from the Mexican government indicated that Flores Borrego had apparently been killed by "members of his own cartel." The two men were first stripped to their underwear, severely beaten, tortured and then shot dead; their corpses were then left on the bed of the Ford Lobo along with a message against the cartel faction Flores Borrego commanded – a group known as Los Metros. A jeweled pistol was found nearside his body too. The Mexican authorities never confirmed it, but the execution-style killings bore the signs of an internal adjustment within the cartel, and sources outside of law enforcement confirmed that Juan Mejía González (El R-1) and Rafael Cárdenas Vela (El Junior) were responsible for Flores Borrego's assassination.
Within a few hours, however, the Gulf cartel replaced Flores Borrego with Mario Ramírez Treviño (known for his aliases X-20 and Pelón) as the new plaza boss in Reynosa. Ramírez Treviño was a frequent contact of Flores Borrego and a former close associate of Jaime González Durán (El Hummer).
On January 2012 at the entrance of a neighborhood in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, where Flores Borrego was rumored to have lived and on one of Reynosa's busiest avenues, a bronze rooster statue was erected in tribute of him. It is not clear who placed the statue but it was adorned with a wreath of flowers bearing the name of "Samuel Flores Borrego." Nicknamed El Gallo de Vista Hermosa ("The Rooster of Vista Hermosa"), the statue mysteriously appeared overnight, and has worried, puzzled, and attracted curious residents of Reynosa. The rooster statue became a Twitter sensation, where Reynosa residents uploaded their own pictures of the monument and created a hashtag to specifically talk about it. During the first week, the residents showed fear of the statue, but that feeling quickly dissolved; one Twitter user said on his page that people were posing for pictures in front of the statue. In addition, a Twitter user noticed that the statue used its own light source at night, and wondered how it got connected and who was paying for the electric bill. A month later, however, the rooster was moved to the Reynosa Palenque, a rodeo arena and live-music venue a few blocks from its original location. Reportedly, the rooster statue once stood outside a restaurant located along a highway that connects Reynosa with Nuevo Laredo. The man who supposedly owned the restaurant was the slain boss of the Gulf cartel, Samuel Flores Borrego, El Metro 3.
The statue's location was found on the same highway where the banda singer Valentín Elizalde (nicknamed the "Golden Rooster") was gunned down on November 2006. According to The Monitor, it is rumored that Elizalde had close ties with The Sinaloa Cartel and that he was gunned down by The Los Zetas Organization, who were still under an alliance with the Gulf cartel – which was a bitter enemy of the Sinaloa cartel. The night he was killed, Elizalde had sung To My Enemies at a concert in Reynosa, but "had been warned not to sing that song in Reynosa..." because some speculated that the song mocked the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas and would lead to his assassination. Despite the threats, Elizalde did sing it and was killed; his slaying served as a symbolic blow of the Gulf cartel against the Sinaloa organization. But over the years, the alliances have broken and that sentiment has changed. The Gulf cartel and Los Zetas broke relations in early 2010, and the Sinaloa's battle against Los Zetas has "turned old enemies into friends." The rooster statue now serves as a symbolic reminder that the Sinaloa cartel is present in the area, with the flowers as a display that they have respect for the Gulf cartel.
There are several music videos on YouTube dedicated to Flores Borrego from a Reynosa hip-hop group composed of two rappers, Cano and Blunt. The song is called The Song of Metro 3 and praises the drug lord for his "ferocity and loyalty." The video consists of a handful of images of Cano and Blunt in gangster poses and in mafia outfits. The narco hip hop video also has photos of bullet-ridden SUV's, police checkpoints, and military convoys.
During a routine patrol in Reynosa on 10 February 2012, Mexico's Federal Police spotted six abandoned SUV's parked in the city's major avenue. Inside the vehicles – which turned out to be stolen – the police officers found several ammunition magazines and rounds. The most noteworthy finding in the seizure were several T-shirts, caps, and patches with the insignias bearing "CDG," the Spanish acronym for The Gulf Cartel. Some of the shirts found inside the vehicles, however, had references to Flores Borrego, who had been slain in September 2011.
Early in the morning on 6 August 2012, several banners celebrating Flores Borrego's birthday were put up on bridges in several cities across Mexico by alleged members of the Gulf Cartel. In the border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, where Flores Borrego was killed in September 2011, a banner was hung from a major avenue. The written text, found below, was signed with several nicknames from alleged members of the cartel.
"Mr. Samuel Flores Borrego, Lt. Metro 3, where ever you are, we know you are doing fine – we know you're doing much better. Today is your birthday, and we remember you in a special way for what you represented in our lives and for what you still represent, even though you are not physically present. You preferred to be betrayed than to mistrust your friends.
You taught us how to carry out justice rather than vengeance ... [and] today we call you our carnal(brother); we will always remember you, and that will be easy. The difficult thing will be forgetting you." A day after the banners were put up in the city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, gunfights broke out between the Metros and the Rojos. The fact that the Metros made a push into Matamoros serves as a sign that they are determined to kill off those who had turned against the Gulf cartel in the past – the Rojos. Reportedly, Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez sent in several armed convoys of the Metros into the city with the backing of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Gulf Cartel infightingEdit
In the late 1990s, Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, the former leader of the Gulf cartel, had other similar groups besides Los Zetas established in several cities in Tamaulipas. Each of these groups were identified by their radio codes: the Rojos were based in Reynosa; the Metros were headquartered in Matamoros; and the Lobos were established in Laredo. The infighting between the Metros and the Rojos of the Gulf cartel began in 2010, when Juan Mejía González, nicknamed El R-1, was overlooked as the candidate of the regional boss of Reynosa and was sent to the "Frontera Chica," an area that emcompasses Miguel Alemán, Camargo and Ciudad Mier – directly across the U.S-Mexico border from Starr County, Texas. The area that Mejía González wanted was given to Flores Borrego, suggesting that the Metros were above the Rojos.
Unconfirmed information released by The Monitor indicated that two leaders of the Rojos, Mejía González and Rafael Cárdenas Vela, teamed up to kill Flores Borrego. Cárdenas Vela had held a grudge on Flores Borrego and the Metros because he believed that they had led the Mexican military to track down and kill his uncle Antonio Cárdenas Guillen (Tony Tormenta) in 5 November 2010. Other sources indicate that the infighting could have been caused by the suspicions that the Rojos were "too soft" on the Gulf cartel's bitter enemy, Los Zetas. When the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas splited in early 2010, some members of the Rojos stayed with the Gulf cartel, while others decided to leave and join the forces of Los Zetas.
InSight Crime explains that the fundamental disagreement between the Rojos and the Metros was over leadership. Those who were more loyal to the Cárdenas family stayed with the Rojos, while those loyal to Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez, like Flores Borrego, defended the Metros.
Originally, the Gulf cartel was running smoothly, but the infighting between the two factions in the Gulf cartel triggered when Flores Borrego was killed on 2 September 2011. When the Rojos turned on the Metros, the largest faction in the Gulf cartel, firefights broke throughout Tamaulipas and drug loads were stolen among each other, but the Metros managed to retained control of the major cities that stretched from Matamoros to Miguel Alemán, Tamaulipas.