Part II Former Agent Duncan: The backstory of Gustavo Rivera aka El EPI and his nexus with other players in Arellano-Felix Organization

Latin America World

n early 1993, A DEA Agent, Jack Robertson, who was the case agent of the AFO Case, learned the AFO was at war with “Chapo” Guzman and that Barron was recruiting from his street gang in Logan Heights to beef up AFO security. At the time, I was assigned to DEA to work in on a task force team targeting gang members who distributed significant amounts of drugs. 
Jack took a couple steps across the hallway and asked me for help since I had expertise on the Logan Heights Gangs. Jack eventually delegated the monitoring and investigation of the enforcement arm of the AFO to me. He mentioned to me that my ultimate target should be Barron. But Barron was in Tijuana and never to be seen again by us until his death in 1997. We did make the case however.

The new recruits were dispatched to Guadalajara in April of 1993 along with Barron and Ramon Arellano. After several days of searching for “Chapo” the gang members were told to return to Tijuana. As they filtered through the airport, they were given notice that “Chapo” would be arriving in a white Gran Marquis.

The Logan enforcers and another crew hired out of Los Mochis, Sinaloa killed the occupants of a white Gran Marquis containing the Cardinal and his driver. This was a life-changing event for the AFO and they had to go underground. Their empire would now be operated by Ismael Higuera-Guerrero until his arrest in 2000.
The Government of Mexico arrested 3 suspects who were involved in the Cardinal Murder who, in turn, gave up the rest of the group involved. Mexico submitted provisional arrest warrants to us and, those gang members who fled to San Diego and elsewhere in the US, were sent back to Mexico to face Mexican Justice and its “guilty until proven innocent” doctrine.
We soon found a worthy target that could lead us to Barron. In October 1993, Jack asked me to find a way into a residence that was apparently holding 4 tons of AFO marijuana and guarded by Logan Heights Gang Member. We found a way in. On November 4, 1993, we entered the Sherman Heights residence and seized 4 tons of marijuana, several pounds of methamphetamine and an arsenal of weapons. We arrested Barron’s “Uncle Charlie” and several others.

4 tons of marijuana seized from AFO in San Diego

During the search warrant at the residence, a white Econoline Van that had been parked in the driveway every time we drove by the residence the month prior was not present. After we processed the scene and impounded the weed, we celebrated. I was hooked into Jack’s case and asked “What’s next?” Jack told me that Barron’s contact for drugs and enforcement in San Diego was a fellow gang member, Juan Felix.

A couple days later, we received information that Felix owned a home in Chula Vista. I drove by the Chula Vista home and noticed the white Econoline Van now parked at the residence. We did a query into the ownership of the residence and learned that Felix had recently purchased the home from Rivera and his older brother, Ernie. Good shit happens when you get off your butt!
 Juan Felix, aka “Johnny
Juan Felix

We opened a case on Felix and we began to follow him around and monitor his communications. From 1984 to 1996, I was a probation officer so I searched every one of his cell phone contacts who was on probation, arrested anyone with a warrant and arranged with INS to deport anyone who was illegal. We developed numerous informants against Felix who provided us with timely information. We followed Felix almost daily to a business in Logan Heights, Sunshine Truck and Auto Body, owned by a 5-time felon Robert Stang. In the same fashion as the cell phone contacts, we started monitoring Stang’s business and employees and made purchases of drugs from several of them. Some cooperated and we were able to purchase pounds of methamphetamine from Felix and subsequently arrest him on November 30, 1995.

The case against Juan Felix was dubbed “Operation Sunshine.” As the case progressed into the upper levels of the AFO, our witnesses told us that the shop was used to store weapons used by Barron and his enforcers to conduct murders in the US on behalf of the AFO. The enforcement crews took over the shop at night and used it as a hang-out and a place for meetings. Witnesses also told us that Barron and “Kitty” were paying Stang $2,000.000 to off-load tractor-trailers and dismantle tour buses full of cocaine and marijuana inside the shop.


Several of the informants and employees told us that although Stang was a felon and a coke fiend, he had “friends in high places.” They described and identified the top two people in the California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement in San

Stang

Diego who frequented the shop and were friendly with Stang. In fact, the top guy, kept his personal “oldie” vehicle at Stang’s shop and worked on it on the weekends. 

I would later be recruited and hired by CALDOJ and changed careers in September 1996. By this time “Operation Sunshine” was a federally funded case and was leading us toward the indictment of Barron, and ultimately the Arellano-Felix Brothers in other federally funded cases. Needless to say, my top boss was nervous.

On Mother’s Day, May 1994, the San Diego Harbor Police arrested a nervous Caucasian male as he approached the public boat ramp in Shelter Island. They were called to the ramp because another Caucasian male, Theodore Kenney, was reported by concerned citizens acting suspiciously. In the cabin of the boat was 600 pounds of marijuana. The Blue/White Chevy Blazer attached to a boat trailer waiting for the weed-laden boat was seized. The trailer was registered to an alias at the residence of Barron’s family in San Diego. The Blazer was registered to Rafael Magana a long-time trafficker for the AFO. Years later, we were told the load belonged to Barron, Rivera and Juan Felix while the boat belonged to Rivera.
Kenney

The Blazer and trailer were seized and impounded at the Harbor Police Department lot until someone unhooked the trailer from the Blazer and took off with the Blazer. Months later, Felix was contacted by police in the same Blazer now painted red. Felix would later use the Blazer to deliver a pound of methamphetamine to our storefront in San Diego.

During the pursuit of Felix and Barron, on October 12, 1994, Agent Robertson arrested Rivera who was in possession of a gun and returning from a Los Angeles location after arranging to take back a large amount of cocaine from a buyer who could not get rid of it. After a close and thorough examination of Rivera’s personal items, we were able to find, and seize, another one of his fishing boats in Harbor Island that contained a few kilos of weed.
Mother’s Day 600 Pound Marijuana Seizure

Rivera is a crafty character who plays every angle and was able to receive a sentence of 18 months in federal prison instead of a mandatory life sentence for his third felony conviction for drug sales. We were very upset with the plea and short sentence. Rivera was represented by Attorney Frank Reagan.

This is a prime example of a flawed system where defense attorneys and prosecutors work out a sweet deal for the defendant to avoid trial. The judge typically certifies the deal and the criminal is freed in a relatively short time to carry on his criminal activities. The victims, witnesses and investigating agents receive no closure

and feel used and grow skeptical. In this case hundreds of people died because Rivera was freed. Yes, he was released and became a mass-murderer when he could of, and should of, received a life sentence.

Rivera was released from federal prison to a work furlough program in early 1996. Rivera claimed to work for Darkside Customs, a business owned by Ronald Eugene Brill, who catered to many seedy citizens and customized motorcycles by appointment only. Once Rivera was released from work furlough, he fled to Tijuana and rejoined Barron who was the chief enforcer for the AFO. Barron’s job was enforcement and he enjoyed killing people. Rivera’s job now was to kill AFO enemies too.

On April 4, 1996, the Southern District of California, issued a warrant for the arrest of Rivera under Criminal Case Number 94cr120101-B. Rivera was found in violation of his supervised release for failure to report to Federal Probation following his conviction for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine.

After taking down Felix, we set our sights on Barron and Rivera. Our US Attorney, Alan Bersin, was upset with the government of Mexico for releasing those Logan Heights Gang Members recruited by Barron to kill “Chapo” and, who accidentally killed the Cardinal at the Guadalajara Airport. We had rounded up a couple dozen of them in San Diego after the murder on April 24, 1993 and sent them to Mexico. After 2 years, we started seeing them back in our community. Mexico never notified the US of their release.

In 1996, USA Bersin assigned one of his assistants to build a federal kingpin case against those gang members and their leader, Barron, who were responsible for the Cardinal Murder. Our team at the Violent Crimes Task Force – Gang Group was selected to investigate and we were well on our way already. We approached the most involved but least dangerous Barron recruits in US or Mexican custody. The first five gang members decided to join Team America rather than being prosecuted in the case. Barron and nine other enforcers were secretly indicted in June 1997.
In 1997, Barron and Rivera called on their US gofer, Ronald Brill, to purchase a fishing boat big enough to haul 1000 kilograms of cocaine. Brill purchased a Grady White and Rivera and Barron smuggled the cocaine into the US. For redistribution to New York City.
By 1997, Barron and Rivera married women in Tijuana. Barron married Karina and Rivera married Cruz Elena Rivera-Rosales. Rivera who had a child with Carolyn in San Diego would eventually have four with Cruz. Barron had a son in San Diego with Judy. I hear he is a good kid and nothing like his father or mother.

November 27, 1997
Ronald Eugene Brill

On November 27, 1997, David Barron, Marcos Quinones, Michael Jarboe, Ignacio Meza and others attempted to murder Zeta Newspaper Editor Jesus Blancornelas in Tijuana. 

During the ambush, Barron was killed by a fragmented round fired by a fellow enforcer. Quinones received an injury to his eye during the ambush. 

Several days after the ambush, Meza was murdered as it was believed his gun fired the errant round.

There are many witnesses and accessories to the Blancornelas murder attempt and the murder of his bodyguard, Luis Lauro-Valero. The vehicle Barron was driving in was purchased just days before in San Diego by Ronald Brill who registered the car under an alias. He was questioned by both US and Mexican law enforcement but no charges were ever filed against him. The other vehicle used by the crew was stolen out of San Diego just before the murder. Quinones returned to Barron’s home after the shooting and broke the news to the Barron family who were gathered for Thanksgiving Dinner. Rivera also arrived and he and Quinones contacted Benjamin Arellano to report the news and wait for further instructions.

Barron
Barron’s group was split in two between Quinones and Rivera. Quinones kept the US gang members except for a few who refused to work with Quinones like “Bat” Marquez and Michael “Pee-Wee” Jarboe.
On February 10, 1998, with the death of Barron, an amended indictment was unsealed in the Southern District of California charging Quinones and other AFO Enforcers with federal drug and murder charges.
Those defendants in custody on other charges were transferred to federal custody in San Diego and cooperated to lower their sentences. On one particular interview, we asked one of the defendants about Rivera. He became emotional and said that a good friend he met in the enforcement crews, “Boni” (Guillermo Gomez), was killed in an explosion on June 12, 1994. He detailed a plot to kill “Mayo Zambada” at the Camino Real Hotel in Guadalajara. Barron had procured chemicals from Juan Felix in the US and brought them to Rivera in Tijuana. Rivera built a bomb with a timing device to be used to blow up the hotel where “Mayo” was hosting a party. Rivera detonated the bomb while “Boni” was in the car.
[By 1997, Barron and Rivera married women in Tijuana. Barron married Karina and Rivera married Cruz Elena Rivera-Rosales. Rivera who had a child with Carolyn in San Diego would eventually have four with Cruz. Barron had a son in San Diego with Judy. I hear he is a good kid and nothing like his father or mother.]
Gustavo and Cruz Rivera

The crews headed by Quinones and Rivera performed enforcement functions to include extortion, kidnapping, drug thefts, murder and other acts of violence. The crews also traffic marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine. The crews had cocaine sources but over time they began to dry up. In their later years, the crews had minimal supplies of cocaine but continued to traffic marijuana and methamphetamine. The crews had become more and more reliant on extortion and kidnapping for ransom to generate income. Quinones and Rivera eventually drifted apart and plotted to kill members of each other’s crews.

Marcos Quinones Sanchez, Karina Davis Barron Corona and Marissa Quinones Barron
Cruz Herrera Rosales and Gustavo Rivera Martinez 2-14-1997
Rivera rose further up in the AFO and his second family grew. They lived in beautiful homes and had four children all born in the US. Cruz Rivera-Herrera. Crossed into San Diego frequently to see her OB-GYN, give birth to their children and shop in all of our malls. We stopped to speak with her on one occasion at Horton Plaza and she claimed she was separated from her husband who was living in Mexico City. She was just one of hundreds of “cartel wives” who will never give up their husbands for fear of losing their allowance and material wealth.

Cruz Rivera at Bebe in Horton Plaza

On January 4, 2000, Rafael Avila-Valenzuela was murdered at the Conquistador Hotel in Tijuana. Rafael was married to Cruz Rivera’s sister, Maria Herrera-Rosales. Rafael was an attorney for Grupo Beta and on Rivera’s and the AFO’s payroll. Two of his younger brothers, Fernando and Miguel Avila-Valenzuela, who also worked alongside Rivera, were killed years later.

Rafael Avila Valenzuela

About one month prior to the death of Ramon Arellano, Ramon held a big party in the Tijuana area that was attended by all AFO crews. Ramon confronted Quinones and Rivera at the party and demanded that they put aside their disagreements and resume working together. They began working together at that point.

In August of 2002, Rivera and Jose Albert Marquez were indicted for with 21 USC 952, 960 and 963, Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and Cocaine; 21 USC 846 and 841(a)(1), Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and Cocaine; 21 USC 952, 960, 963, 846 and 841(a)(1) and 18 USC 2, Aiding and Abetting a Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and Cocaine.
On April 24, 2003, Quinones and a member of his crew, Felipe Torrez-Juarez (aka: “Flips” and “Manny”) were arrested in Tijuana for kidnapping and weapons charges. They had a two-hour gun battle with police and military officials before they ran out of ammunition. Quinones’ wife, Marissa Quinones-Barron, called the press because the police would not stop shooting. Both were taken to Mexico City by federal authorities. Rivera absorbed Quinones’ crew.
In Mexico City, Quinones cooperated with the federal authorities (SEIDO) and signed a formal statement or declaration relative to the information he provided. Within hours, Rivera, received a copy of his declaration and abducted four of Quinones’ family members in Tijuana. He also had several people associated with Quinones murdered in Tijuana. Rivera demanded that Quinones recant his statement and cease cooperation. Quinones’ family members were subsequently released. 

This event caused serious friction between the Barron Family and Rivera. David Barron’s sister, Marissa, was married to Quinones. Rivera and Barron had been friends since 1988 when they bonded at FCI – Phoenix. Quinone was released from Altiplano a couple years ago and his whereabouts are unknown. He has a “green light” on him by the remnants of the Tijuana Cartel, the Logan Heights Gang, and the Jalisco Cartel. His cooperation, his selfish management style and his low IQ has put a target on his back.
On July 1, 2003, a Federal Grand Jury for the Southern District of California returned a superseding Indictment Number 03cr01843-K against Rivera.  Rivera was charged with 21 USC 952, 960 and 963, Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and Cocaine; 21 USC 846 and 841(a)(1), Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and Cocaine; 21 USC 952, 960, 963, 846 and 841(a)(1) and 18 USC 2, Aiding and Abetting a Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and Cocaine.
Maria Herrera Rosales

On December 9, 2003, we received information that Cruz Rivera was assaulted at the Nordstrom’s check-out counter in the children’s section at the Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego. We responded within 20 minutes but all parties had left the store. We pulled the security tape and watched in amazement. On one side of the busy counter was Cruz Rivera and her nanny checking out children’s clothes. On the other side was Marissa Quinones and her sister, Claudia Barron, doing the same. Although there was no sound, the recording showed both Marissa and Claudia take turns beating on Cruz. It was the ghetto gals against the cartel princess. I still have the video.

In February 2004, we started listening to the radio frequencies of the AFO and heard “first hand” their stranglehold on the Tijuana Plaza. The AFO was now “Policing the Tijuana Plaza.” They had organization much like our police organizations but without the red tape. They had corrupted every level of law enforcement to the level where the cops were powerless against them. They outnumbered and outgunned the police. They patrolled their plaza and picked up anyone they deemed as an enemy. They received timely information from their government contacts and informants and made sure they coexisted but did not interfere with each other. It was absolutely amazing!
Rivera had several crews and a direct frequency to the boss, Javier Arellano-Felix, and the dispatcher, Fernando Sanchez-Arellano, the son of Norma Alicia Arellano-Felix. He was recorded on a daily basis patrolling, killing, kidnapping, extorting and trafficking drugs. His crews killed hundreds, if not thousands, of people. In looking at his indictment, there are no murder charges but a skeletal history of lesser criminal acts leaving room for a plea agreement and soft sentence.
On January 10, 2005, Rivera and his crews kidnapped Walter Rios and two associates as they were leaving an auto repair shop in Tijuana. Rios’ wife reported the kidnapping to DEA and FBI who conveyed the information to the Baja Norte Attorney General’s Office. On January 16, the comandante of the Anti Sequestro Unit, Hugo Vargas-Coronel, was able to get close to the kidnapping safe-house and save Rios and his associates from a certain death. Rivera was reporting the encroaching police activity to Javier Arellano and Fernando Sanchez-Arellano over the radio but the two superiors were talking about a duck-hunting television show and disregarded Rivera’s urgent communications. In minutes the house was raided, the victims freed and two of Rivera’s crew were arrested.
The following day, Hugo Vargas-Coronel, was murdered.
In 2005, our investigation led us to a boat broker in a Long Beach, California marina who was contacted by Rivera and was interested in purchasing a 500 K pleasure craft, the Dock Holiday. When the deal was confirmed, we boarded the boat, installed tracking devices on it and waited. The person who arrived weeks later to pay for the boat was Edgar Escandon-Leyva, who was the designated gofer for the head of the AFO. He worked for Ramon until his death and now worked for Javier. Escandon-Leyva, aka “24,” was with a marina owner from La Paz, Baja Sur, Aristotle Abaroa. We were pretty certain the boat was going to Javier Arellano and the rest is history.
Rivera had to be cautious after the arrest of Javier Arellano. Surprisingly, he did not accompany the fishermen nor did Escandon-Leyva when it was they who unwittingly led us to their ultimate boss. For some reason, Rivera’s “right-hand man,” Manuel Diez-Castillo, aka “Buddha,” was blamed and has not been heard from since.
On December 11, 2006, Rivera and his crew set up surveillance at a strip mall in Tijuana as two enemies, “Chombi” and “Payo” were spotted in one of the stores. We listened on their radio frequencies as “Chombi” and “Payo” were executed as they left the store and walked outside to the waiting gunmen. Rivera’s radio demeanor was very professional as he urged his crews to remain calm while the set up in the area, killed the two victims and departed the scene. He was a “big boss!”
Murder of Chombi and Payo

In early 2008, we received information that Rivera was active in the East Cape area of Baja Sur. Agents were dispatched to Cabo San Lucas and began identifying properties purchased by Rivera in Cabo San Lucas, Las Barrilles and Pescadero. A special group from Mexico City was dispatched to the area to arrest Rivera when the opportunity arose. Rivera was located at a beachfront mansion in Palmilla and he was monitored as he drove into Las Barrilles and Pescadero frequently. He frequented the Roadrunner Café in Las Barrilles and he was usually alone.

On the night before Easter, he left his Palmilla Mansion in his Ford Truck along with his wife, brother-in-law and their 4 children. When the drove through Las Barrilles, Rivera jumped out at a hot dog stand and the truck continued to Pescadero. 

The agents did not see him get out and the truck was intercepted by Mexican Police in Pescadero. His wife was interrogated and told the police he was at the hot dog stand. The troops headed back to Las Barrilles and arrested Rivera who was with his bodyguard, Marcos Assemat-Hernandez and a friend, Pavel Kulisek, who was a fellow off-road enthusiast. 

Gustavo Rivera in long khaki pants 

Kulisek still claims he had no idea his friend was a cartel kingpin. I believe him and am sorry he was collateral damage.

Rivera was taken to a local military base and then transported to Mexico City. We expected him to be delivered to the US as he was born here, but he claimed dual citizenship and managed to stay in Altiplano for nearly 12 years. A few days later, one of the young comandantes from the special group was killed, duct-taped and left on the side of the road in Tijuana.
Road Runner Cafe

I have kept in touch with the witnesses against Rivera and they are ready for trial. They have an awesome story to tell of this selfish monster and the story needs to be told. One witness responded with the following after he was told Rivera had been extradited to San Diego:

“Kind of sad when you think about how much of his life was spent behind bars. He was an intelligent and personable guy at one time. He had many opportunities to turn his life around, but turned his back on all of them. He chose his path, stepping over the tortured and murdered bodies of the innocent, and not so innocent, along the way. Remind the prosecutor of that.

You should now have a good feel for knowledge about Rivera. Hopefully, our federal prosecutors will tell the whole story and not settle with a skeletal version. Let us hope the US Attorney’s Office can give us some closure on this one. Maybe this time the victims and law enforcement will feel somewhat vindicated and appreciated.
The following is a summary of some of the more well-known members of Rivera’s crews over the last 3 decades. Many of these men became leaders and kingpins themselves. Many are dead.
Rivera Crew Members
Jose Albert Marquez-Esqueda, aka: “BAT”
Bat

Marquez is a member of the “Del Sol” street gang and the Mexican Mafia prison gang. He has an extensive criminal history and is extremely violent. He was released from Pelican Bay state prison in June 1997, fled to Tijuana and rejoined David Barron’s enforcement group.  Marquez is a U.S. citizen. 

On November 22, 2003, Marquez was arrested in Tijuana and eventually extradited on January 27, 2007. He is serving a life sentence in a US federal prison.

Manuel Ivanovich Zambrano-Flores, aka “JIMMY”
Zambrano is a former Mexican Immigration Officer who was arrested in San Diego on July 7, 1998 in possession of 100 kilograms of marijuana. 

Manuel Ivanovich Zambrano Flores

Zambrano is a Mexican citizen. He took over Rivera’s crews after Rivera’s arrest and on August 7, 2009, Zambrano was arrested. Zambrano spent several years in Puenta Grande and was released about 5 years ago. He is still in the game and, apparently, is allied with the Jalisco Cartel.

Rafael Avila-Valenzuela, aka “NOVIO”
Avila, an attorney, was assigned to Grupo Beta when he was murdered on January 4, 2000 by gunmen working for Ismael “Mayo” Zambada. Avila was married to Cruz Rivera’s sister, Maria Herrerra-Rosales.
Novio
Fernando Avila-Valenzuela, aka “CUERVO”
Avila was arrested in San Diego on July 7, 1998 in possession of 100 kilograms of marijuana. Avila and Zambrano were seen doing a vehicle switch in National City with a known trafficker and partner of Rivera. They were detained briefly and subsequently released. Avila, like his brothers who worked for Rivera, was murdered in front of his parents’ home on November 5th, 2014.
Cuervo
Miguel Avila-Valenzuela aka “HERTZ”
Another Avila-Valkenzuela Brother who dedicated his life to murder and drug trafficking and nicknamed for his ability to steal cars, Avila was murdered in Tijuana in October 2015.
Hertz
Sixto Avila-Valenzuela, aka “SIXTO”
Another Avila Family Member who worked for Gustavo Rivera
Sixto
Manuel Diez-Castillo, aka “BUDDHA”
Castillo assisted Rivera with drug distribution and enforcement. Castillo vanished on August 14, 2006 as it was he that was blamed for Javier Arellano-Felix’s arrest on the Dock Holiday off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. His immediate family fled Tijuana and sought refuge in San Diego.
Buddha

Raymundo Corona-Bartolome, aka “COACH”
Corona is a close partner to Rivera and is an avid baseball player. Corona’s wife is Tijuana’s socialite Claudia Saenz de Corona. Corona maintained stash houses in the U.S. for redistribution of Rivera and Barron’s drugs. Corona is a citizen of Mexico.

Coach
On June 26, 1998, Corona sent Alberto Gonzalez-Ortega and James Scott to Providence, Rhode Island with a load of marijuana. After receiving the marijuana both were murdered by their buyers.
Isaac Godoy-Castro, aka “DANNY”
Godoy is a former police officer that has been the driver to both Barron and Rivera. Godoy is married to Martha Potenciano, the daughter of the infamous Juan Potenciano who was murdered in Tijuana in about 1990. His son of the same name and occupation lost his limbs in a methamphetamine explosion in the late 1990’s, seems to be on the right track now and trying to give back what his family took over the decades. Godoy took over one of Gustavo Rivera’s crews after his arrest in 2008. Godoy was arrested in Tijuana on April 22, 2009 and served time at Puenta Grande until his release. On April 20, 2018, Godoy was murdered while working out at a Tijuana Gym.

Danny

Giovanni Rivera, aka “HAMBURGUESA”

Rivera, a graduate athlete of the old Marian High School in Imperial Beach, California took over for “BUDDHA” after the later vanished. He was arrested while abducting a victim in Tijuana on October 28, 2008 and is in prison in Tijuana and soon to be released if not already.

Hamburguesa
Melvin Gutirrez-Quiroz, aka “Tocayo” and “Casper”
A Logan Heights Gang Member who was first recruited by David Barron-Corona in 1992 and committed multiple murders on both sides of the border. He was arrested in Tijuana on March 6, 2013 and is incarcerated at Puenta Grande maximum security prison.

Mario Lopez, AKA: “Compa”
Lopez also took over one of Gustavo Rivera’s crews after Rivera’s 2008 arrest. He has never been arrested and his whereabouts are unknown but we do have his photograph he took for his PGR Credentials in the early 2000s.

Theodore Caldwell Kenney III: AKA “Katy,” “Topete”
Kenney, a life-long friend of Gustavo Rivera, from the San Diego area now lives in Cabo San Lucas and own and manages properties purchased by Rivera.  He was a cocaine dealer in the 1980’s and trafficked marijuana for Rivera for decades to come.

Ronald Eugene Brill: AKA “Bill”
Brill, a friend and US gofer of Gustavo Rivera, from the El Cajon area provided Rivera with a job when Rivera was on federal work furlough. He also purchased a fishing boat used by Rivera and Barron to transport one ton of cocaine from Colombia into Baja and ultimately to the US. Brill purchased the vehicle used by Barron in his attempt to kill Zeta Editor, Jesus Blancornelas. Brill also affixed armor, police sirens and lights to Barron and Rivera’s vehicles used to patrol Tijuana.

Ronald Brill aka “Bill”
Ignacio Zazueta-Rodriguez, aka “Gerardo”, “El Pete” and “Nacho”
Zazueta was deported in 1999 and joined Quinones’ enforcement crew. He was a posolero and later a crew leader and close associate of Arturo Villarreal-Heredia, “El Nalgon.” His wife, Selene Estrada, worked with the California Department of Corrections as a prison guard at the RJ Donovan Prison in San Diego County. He was arrested August 22, 2008 and is at large after escaping from a Mexico prison facility.

Ignacio Zazueta
Jose Hernandez-Garcia, aka “Viejon” and “Sailor”
Paroled and deported in 1998 after serving time for murder in California. He joined Quinones’ crew and was absorbed by Rivera upon Quinones’ arrest. He later rose to very high level with the new generation of the AFO before he was murdered on November 13, 2015.

Jose Hernandez Garcia “Viejon” or “Sailor”
Benjamin Gutierrez-Quiroz, aka “Kecho”
Younger brother of Melvin and Jose Gutierrez-Quiroz, aka “Charro,” who followed his older brothers into the enforcement squad of the AFO. Benjamin fled San Diego after committing a murder many years ago. On May 23, 2015, he was murdered in Tijuana.

Benjamin Gutierrez “Kecho”

Adolfo Perez-Zambrano, aka “Spirit” and “Sammy”

Perez-Zambrano or “Sammy” is the cousin of Manuel Zambrano-Flores, aka “Jimmy.” “Sammy” has worked with Rivera since the 1980’s and was running one of Rivera’s crews until his arrest (under an alias Gustavo Adolfo Zapata-Gamez) on March 15, 2008 in Tijuana. Sammy” was married to Lina Zapata, a Colombian woman and daughter of an AFO Cocaine Source. Sammy was arrested with her brother and his brother on March 15, 2008, just 4 days after Rivera’s arrest. “Sammy” and his cousin “Jimmy” were released from prison a few years back and are back in the drug business with the Jalisco Cartel.

Adolfo Perez Zambrano “Spirit”
Theodore Caldwell Kenney III, aka “Katy”
Ted Kenney lives in Cabo San Lucas and is a life-long friend of Rivera who has aided and abetted Rivera in his criminal ventures. Kenney manages Rivera’s properties, vehicles and watercraft in Baja Sur.

Kenney
Marcos Assemat-Hernandez, aka “Eduardo”
Former Mexico police officer who was a trafficker and enforcer for Rivera. Assemat was with Ramon Arellano when he was killed in Mazatlan on February 10, 2002 and with Rivera when he was arrested in Las Barrilles on March 10, 2008.

Marcos Assemat Hernandez “Eduardo”
Michael Anthony Jarboe, aka “Lucky” and “Pee-Wee”
Jarboe was recruited by Barron in 1996 and was absorbed by Rivera’s crews after Barron’s death in 1997. On September 2, 1996, Jarboe walked into “Honey Banana” restaurant and Tijuana and executed two police officers as well as a waitress. Jarboe made bail after his arrest in San Diego on September 16, 1996 while on his way to murder someone who had disrespected one of  Barron’s sisters. The victim was saved, but the charges he was held on did not reflect his ultimate intent – murder. Jarboe, was one of several primary suspects, in the murder of Fernando Gutierrez on the Coronado Strand on November 11, 1996. Jarboe was later murdered by Rivera.

Michael Jarboe “Lucky” or “Pee Wee”

End of Part II of II…..A huge thank you to Agent Steve Duncan! 


Steve Duncan is a retired Special Agent of California Department of Justice. He spent 20 years with CALDOJ, retiring in December 2016. Prior to CALDOJ, he was a Probation Officer for the San Diego County Probation Department for 12 years and was the first probation officer in San Diego history to formally work on a Drug Enforcement Organization Task Force. During his 32 years in law enforcement, his efforts focused on the investigation of the most violent criminals in the United States and Mexico. He is an expert on street gangs, prison gangs and Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations.
The support and success of the cases against gangs and cartels came from the Arellano-Felix Task Force made up of federal, state and local law enforcement and military agencies. Steve was assigned to both the DEA and FBI as a task force officer for periods from 1992 to 2008.    

Steve has directed and participated in the arrest of hundreds of gang members and cartel associates for various crimes in pursuit of their leaders and the dismantling of their organizations. He has sponsored several witnesses for the US Marshall’s Witness Security Program. Steve says the best part of the job was turning people’s lives around from evil to good and putting the dangerous predators behind bars.    

Steve and his partners’ successful case against the Tijuana Cartel began in 1992 and continue to the present as they await the extraditions of drug kingpins in their investigations. Most of those extradited have cooperated with the US government and he has been involved in hundreds of debriefings where he took notes, corroborated information and memorialized the debriefing in official reports. These debriefings also developed into other successful investigations in the US and Mexico.

Saving lives by targeting the “worst of the worst” was Steve’s focus in law enforcement. Multi-agency task forces dedicated to investigation of the worst criminals were his arenas to work these cases. He has worked with all law enforcement agencies and maintains a great relationship with them all. His cases typically involved Mexico. He understands the Mexican culture, economy and justice system and has worked extensively with Mexican Law Enforcement on Mexican soil.

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