REYNOSA — A bronze statue of a massive rooster standing atop a golden cage sat in the median of one of Reynosa’s busiest avenues, a cryptic marker that some say signals a new chapter for the Gulf Cartel.
The statue is a sign of the strengthened alliance between the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels, which have joined forces in their struggle against the Zetas, sources outside law enforcement said.
City hall officials would not comment on who built the statue or why, but residents said it appeared overnight sometime last week.
“I remember just seeing it there one morning,” a taxi driver said. “I don’t know where it came from.”
Residents are more concerned about its significance than its origin.
The rooster statue once stood outside a restaurant along the highway connecting Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo, said a source outside law enforcement with direct knowledge of criminal activity in Reynosa. The man who owned that restaurant: the slain Reynosa boss for the Gulf Cartel, Samuel “Metro 3” Flores Borrego.
Now sitting in Vista Hermosa Avenue, the statue has fresh flower arrangements laid at its foot daily with inscriptions in memory of Flores Borrego.
The Vista Hermosa Colonia, which lies off the avenue, was an area frequented by Flores Borrego — an area where he kept various security houses, the source said.
The area also has historical significance for the Sinaloa Cartel.
A stone’s throw away from the statue lie the grounds of the Expo-Feria Reynosa, where in November 2006 a popular regional musician who was rumored to have had close ties to the Sinaloa was slain. The musician, Valentín Elizalde, was known as the “Golden Rooster.”
The singer was gunned when the Zetas were still allied with the Gulf Cartel — which was then a bitter enemy of the Sinaloa.
A former Zeta who spoke with Valley Freedom Newspapers last year said the musician’s murder had been carried out by the Zetas.
“He used to sing a song that talked about barking dogs; it was called ‘To My Enemies,’ and it was a jab at the Zetas,” the Zeta said in Spanish. “He had been warned not to sing that song in Reynosa, and he did.”
The Golden Rooster’s slaying was in effect a blow by the Gulf against the Sinaloa.
But allegiances have changed in the years gone by. The Gulf and Zetas split in early 2010 and began a bloody turf war in northeastern Mexico. And the Sinaloa’s own battle with the Zetas has turned old enemies into friends.
The rooster statue serves as a banner, showing that Sinaloa members are in the area, with the flowers a display of respect for the Gulf Cartel, said a source in the U.S. outside law enforcement who has direct knowledge of the case.
“In years past, they would build a small statue of altar to Elizalde there, but it was quickly knocked down,” the source said. “This is one is here to stay.”
GULF V. GULF
Bloody infighting that left several key Gulf Cartel figures dead and the organization in disarray in recent months seems to have halted, said two independent sources outside law enforcement who have direct knowledge of the situation.
One result of that disarray made grim headlines in the Rio Grande Valley as October drew to a close, when the region experienced what Sheriff Lupe Treviño described as Hidalgo County’s first case of direct spillover violence from Mexico’s drug war. In the chaotic infighting that followed the killing of Flores Borrego in September, the Gulf Cartel had drug shipments stolen, Treviño said. An operation that the cartel ordered to recover a drug load resulted in a police shooting Oct. 30, as a botched kidnapping left a suspect dead and a sheriff’s deputy wounded.
As for the terms of the armistice that has stopped the internal fighting, the sources were not specific, but they did say a restructuring of plaza bosses occurred.
Control has fallen to the followers of the late Flores Borrego, known as the Metros, although the faction blamed for the capo’s killing, known as the Rojos, retains considerable manpower.
GULF V. ZETAS
The sources said the Gulf Cartel has received significant reinforcements from an armed wing of the Sinaloa Cartel — a strike group known as Cartel Gente Nueva de Jalisco.
Despite having been enemies in the past, the two sides joined forces to fight the Zetas. The sources said that with the Gulf Cartel bolstered by the reinforcements, the fight with the Zetas will be renewed.
The sources said, members of the two cartels fought side by side last week as they stopped a Zeta incursion on the highway leading to Valle Hermoso in the area known as Las Norias. More than 30 Zetas were killed, sources said. Mexican authorities have not released any information regarding the alleged confrontation and didn’t return calls for comment.