Zetas ring leader ‘El Negro’ from San Luis Potosi sentenced to 35 years in prison

 “MX” for Borderland Beat

Note to readers: Mexican authorities did not release a mug shot of Olegario Sierra Juarez (‘El Negro’) by press time.

The state of San Luis Potosí is made up of 58 municipalities which are grouped into 4 regions. Back when ‘El Negro’ was active, Los Zetas had a presence in most of the state (source: BB)

A federal judge based in San Luis Potosi sentenced Olegario Sierra Juarez (‘El Negro’), former member of Los Zetas, to 35 years in prison. Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (FGR) said El Negro was found guilty of drug trafficking, illegal possession of firearm, including those of military-exclusive use, and drug trafficking.

El Negro was arrested by the Mexican Army in 2013 alongside Zetas member Uriel Antonio Maldonado Ramírez. They were found in possession of military-exclusive firearms and narcotics. El Negro was taken into custody and imprisoned at La Pila, a state penitentiary in San Luis Potosi. Investigators said that El Negro was one of the heads of Los Zetas in San Luis Potosi Municipality, the state capital.

During El Negro’s criminal career, the state of San Luis Potosi was a bastion of Los Zetas. Federal Highway 57, which runs through San Luis Potosi and connects it with Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, is one of the main north-to-south highway arteries in Mexico. It serves a lucrative smuggling route for drug cartels. This highway connects it with Interstate 35 in Texas.

Background

In 2011, Zetas members based in San Luis Potosi killed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent Jaime Zapata while he was heading to Mexico City for a meeting. Those involved say that they thought the agent was a rival drug cartel member and that he was slain in error. But the attack ended up causing intense bilateral tensions between Mexico and the U.S.

It was the first murder of a U.S. agent in Mexican soil since the killing of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who was murdered by Guadalajara Cartel members in 1985.

One of the main figureheads of Los Zetas in the early 2010s in San Luis Potosi was Ivan Velasquez Caballero (‘El Taliban’), who competed against Zetas leader Miguel Trevino Morales (‘Z-40’) for control of the state. To defeat Z-40’S forces, El Taliban sought out an alliance with the Gulf Cartel, as reported by Borderland Beat.

El Taliban is currently serving 30 years in prison in Texas, while Z-40 is in prison in Mexico awaiting U.S. extradition.

Sources: La Jornada; Borderland Beat archives