“MX” for Borderland Beat
|Idalia Ramos Rangel (circa 2013)|
Though Mexico boasts about having one of the world’s best right-to-information laws, it does very little in practice. Journalists and activists say that Mexico has a terrible record for transparency and often withholds information to the public, especially for requests pertaining to the ongoing drug war. The INAI is ran by the government and is thereby not politically independent. In this report, Borderland Beat will provide an overview of Ramos-Rangel and her alleged criminal network with the only publicly available information about her.
|Idalia Ramos Rangel (date unknown)|
When questioned, Ramos Rangel refused to cooperate. She was arrested, not on drug charges but because she was in the country illegally. She had already served a prison sentence in the United States for a previous drug offense, and had been deported and ordered never to return to the country. Ramos Rangel was a low-level criminal during that time. In subsequent years, she rose through the leadership ranks of the Gulf Cartel.
On 2 May 2013, Ramos-Rangel was indicted by a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas for several drug trafficking offenses, including possession of narcotics with intent to distribute them; cocaine trafficking; and using a telephone to coordinate drug trafficking activities.
The indictment stated that, on or around June 2008, Ramos-Rangel and 17 of her associates knowingly possessed, with intent to distribute, at least 5 kg (11 lb) of cocaine. Ramos Rangel was identified as the lead conspirator and was accused of employing her children and other relatives to facilitate the drug scheme.
|Idalia Ramos Rangel (date: 1998)|
Ramos-Rangel reportedly coordinated with her son, Mohammed Kazam Martinez (“Mo”), who was imprisoned at the Federal Correctional Institution in Forrest City, Arkansas, to recruit inmates to assist in distributing cocaine for her network upon their release from prison.
When Ramos-Rangel’s network used this hiring method it was a relatively new tactic for Mexican drug cartels. Inmates close to finishing their sentences are employed in order to work for the cartel on their release. These inmates are not directly part of the cartel’s hierarchy, and are generally regarded as “work-for-hire” members.
Among those inmates were Emmanuel Ilo (“Chi”) and Mervin Johnson (“Slim”), who distributed cocaine for her in central Arkansas after they were released. Ramos-Rangel’s son used the prison’s telephone system and emails to communicate with other members of her network.
In one recorded telephone conversation with Johnson, quoted in Ramos-Rangel’s indictment, Martinez mentions his mother’s role in the conspiracy while discussing a drug debt, saying: “You owe Big Momma some money. If you keep f***ing up, they gonna cut everybody off. You are gonna f**k [Ilo] and me up because of you.”
Ramos-Rangel’s current whereabouts are unknown, but investigators believe she may be hiding in Matamoros, her center of operations.
Note: This article includes excerpts from the Wikipedia page of Idalia Ramos Rangel, which was published by Borderland Beat reporter “MX” in September 2019. It includes over 25 sources.