A key suspected Sinaloa Cartel operative was arrested during a joint security operation in Nogales, Sonora, late last week during a mid-day raid at a safehouse.
Elements of the state ministerial investigative police (AMIC), state preventive police (PEP), and the Mexican Army (SEDENA) executed an arrest warrant in colonia Álamos this past Friday. Intelligence was previously developed to indicate that Samuel Payán González aka “El Tío Sam” was hiding there. The resulting raid ended without a single shot fired, according to local reports. Payán González was identified as a member of “Los Dámaso,” an armed wing of the Sinaloa Cartel responsible for much of the record-breaking violence in La Paz and Cabos San Lucas in 2017 and 2018. Samuel Payán González is a brother of Daniel Payán González, aka “El Colores,” the regional plaza boss.
Samuel Payán González was believed to have fled from Baja California Sur to Nogales in late 2017 after his criminal cell carried out numerous acts of violence, to include the killing of ministerial police and several others. One of those cases involved the murder of veteran crime reporter Maximino Rodriguez Palacios outside a shopping mall in La Paz Baja California Sur. Rodriguez was the crime reporter for Colectivo Pericu. Another high-profile homicide involved Silvestre de la Toba Camacho, who headed the state’s human rights commission. According to local news outlets, Camacho was driving with his family when a team of gunmen attempted to block him off and then began firing. Camacho’s 20-year-old son was also killed while his wife and 17-year-old daughter were wounded.
Due to the violence attributed to the turf war involving Los Dámaso, the Mexican government was forced to deploy 2,000 military and police to once peaceful La Paz and Los Cabos. A total of 1,200 Mexican Navy Infantrymen and 800 federal cops were also deployed in 2017. The escalation of violence was attributed at the time to a split within the Sinaloa Cartel and a push by the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) to take control of key beach resort areas.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.