THE GLOBALIZATION OF IMPUNTIY:
THE ZARAGOZA FUENTES FAMILY ARCHIVES
Article excerpts from the U.S., Mexico and world press
Grupo Z, the Gas Cartel
Revista Fortuna, January 2007
By Ana Lilia Pérez
THE GAS FIRM known as the Grupo Zeta is one of the first beneficiaries of
the Felipe Calderón government, thanks to the reorganization of
PEMEX and private investment, despite accusations of engaging in
corruption and monopoly of the market.
As a sudden economic blow, a few weeks ago the Department of the
Economy of the recently elected government approved a three cent per
kilo increase for the price of propane gas. According to analysts, what
makes propane gas so expensive is the result of its monopolization by a
small group of distributors under the wing of the Energy Department—Secretetaria de Energia.
The director of Economic Studies of the Rafael Preciado Hernandez
Foundation, Francisco Calderón, defines the propane business in
Mexico as a “Gas Cartel,” that generates millions in
earnings to the distributors at the expense of the consumers.
Only five firms distribute propane in Mexico: Grupo Zeta, Tomza Gas
Uribe, Vela Gas and Gas Nieto. They’ve controlled distribution
not only in Mexico for years but now in Central and South America as
We’re talking about a cartel that for each liter sold earns twice
as much as what it paid to PEMEX and mafia-style, some of its illegal
practice include “skimming” at least 10 percent off each
gas tank, a crime that, according to the Procuraduria Federal del
Consumidor, generates illegal profits of up to 7 billion pesos (700
million dollars) per year.
The head of the “Gas Cartel” is the Grupo Zeta,
to whom the new president Felipe Calderon is promising protection
business perks just as his predecessor Vicente Fox did.
The deals with the Zaragoza family gives us an inkling of how president
Calderon will conduct business with PEMEX in the future. Thanks to the
concessions granted to the Zaragozas for the construction, maintenance
and administration of the PEMEX gas ducts, under the president’s
new scheme, PEMEX will pay the Zaragoza family for the use of the ducts.
The Zaragoza’s have always been linked to “obscure
benefits” enjoyed by former president Vicente Fox, and now to
The history of the Zaragoza firm in the last six years includes:
engaging in illegal monoply practices, violation of international labor
laws and the rights of its employees; the suspicious concession
obtained to operate a seaside gas terminal, the only one of its kind,
the port of Manzanillo; consumer fraud, legal charges brought by the
Secretaria de Funcion Publica for influence trafficking and bribing
Furthermore there are investigations for drug smuggling by the DEA,
that were ongoing during the Ernesto Zedillo presidency, with Miguel
and Jesus Zaragoza as targets for smuggling cocaine in their tankers.
An investigation was later conducted for alleged money laundering by
the Zaragoza family in relation to the “Amigos de Fox”
The money that Miguel and his son Jesus Zaragoza Lopez gave to Fox for
his campaign received good dividends. The installation of Grupo Zeta
gas plants in Central America was promoted by his administration,
specifically by Jorge Castañeda, as one of his priorities was to
promote the Plan Puebla Panama. The financial and legal support for
this expansion into the region was done with the help of Banco Mexicano
de Comercio Exterior. The last gift from Fox to the Zaragozas was the permission to construct
and operate a private marine plant for the storage and distribution of
propane gas in Manzanillo, Colima although this has always been an
exclusive function of PEMEX. Zaragoza has a juicy 300 million dollar
contract a year for the importation of gas. This was done although had a
large number of documented legal charges brought against it for illegal
practices including theft to consumers.
During the 10 years as head of Pemex Gas, Ramirez Silva, covered up a
whole series of rigged bids in favor of the Zaragoza firm. In 2005 he
was in charge of granting business perks to the Grupo Zeta. He ordered
environmental audits done to cancel the gas duct concessions of the
There is vicious interfamily squabble between the Zaragoza brothers
regarding the PEMEX concessions as well. As part of their business
dispute, Miguel Zaragoza has used his PEMEX connections to close down
the gas ducts of Tomas Zaragoza.
The web of corruption created by the Zaragoza family within PEMEX was
denounced and various legal charges were pressed during the
Francisco Barrio Terrazas administration in Chihuahua. He dismissed the
charges. The reason: the Zaragozas supported the Barrio campaign. While
governor, Barrio Terrazas openly protected Pedro Zaragoza Fuentes, head
of the Grupo Agroindustrial Zaragoza, who was investigated during the
government of Carlos Salinas by the Office of the Attorney General for
his links with narcotraffic and the founder of the Juarez Cartel,
Rafael Aguilar Guajardo, related by marriage to Pedro Zaragoza. The
investigation was stopped after governor Barrios interceded on his
The family’s bad name has its own history in Central and South
America. They are accused of monopolizing the market, of bribing local
officials and of consumer fraud.
Recently the Association of Gas Companies of Peru filled a lawsuit
against Zeta Gas Andino, a syndicate of Grupo Zeta, for illegal
monopoly practices and for bribing Peruvian officials, as “a
strategy to break the local firms.”
Last June, the Labor Development Program of Peru, sent out an
“alert” labeling Zeta Gas Andino as a “fraudulent
transnational” firm. They are accused of systematic anti-labor
practices in order to “increase their economic
In Guatemala, the Association of Propane Gas Distributors has taken
legal action against the Mexican gas firm for monopolizing the market
and theft for their practice of “skimming” off their tanks.
There’s also a law suit filed with the Anti-Corruption
Prosecutors Office of Guatemala that is investigating the Zaragoza
Scandal surrounds Zeta Gas
July 7, 2007
The Zeta Gas firm is involved in a series of
scandals in Mexico where it is accused of receiving extraordinary
favors during the Vicente Fox administration including help from
officials to install their company in Central America under the help of
the Plan Pueblo Panama. The Plan Puebla Panama was proposed by Fox to
intergrate the infrastructure, economy and energy sectors of Central
America and Mexico.
According to the Mexican magazine, Contralinea, the highest
contributors to the Fox campaign among the “Amigos de Fox”
association were the Zaragoza family. Four years ago, the DEA
discovered tanker trucks, owned by Zeta Gas, filled with cocaine. The
investigation was stopped during the government of Carlos Salinas. The
DEA did not press charges against the owners. The cocaine was traveling
from El Paso to San Antonio.
U.S. drug warriors knock on heaven's door
Insight on the News, April 21, 1997 by Jamie Dettmer
From hundreds of pages of top-secret U.S. and
Mexican intelligence documents and interviews with dozens of current
and former lawmen and informants on both sides of the Southwest border,
Insight has pieced together an exclusive profile of the highly
clandestine Juarez cartel. It is the story of Carillo himself and of
one of the cartel's five main families, the Zaragoza Fuentes family of
El Paso and Juarez, who allegedly transport drugs and launder money for
the Lord of Heaven and who alone control a byzantine network of
hundreds of real and sham companies stretching from Mexico City and
Guadalajara to New York and the Bahamas.
What emerges from informed law-enforcement sources and intelligence
reports is a ruthless trafficking organization that has managed to
enmesh itself insidiously with the post-North American Free Trade
Agreement economies of the southern states of America and the northern
states of Mexico. "To appreciate the cartel's scale you should think of
it as the criminal equivalent of General Motors," advises a DEA agent.
"Juarez is a company town every bit as much as Detroit."
Senior DEA agents even allege the Juarez traffickers wield ultimate
behind-the-scenes ownership of one of Mexico's major private airlines,
Taesa, which Insight can reveal is the focus of a secret Texas-based
U.S. probe. Cartel associates, in this case the Zaragoza Fuentes
family, run one of the world's largest propane gas import-and-export
businesses, which during the 1980s inexplicably escaped punishment when
it defied American embargo regulations and shipped Texas propane to
Nicaragua, according to U.S. Customs database reports in the Treasury,
Enforcement and Control System, or TECS. The Zaragoza Fuentes also are
Mexico's main milk suppliers, and the current head of the clan, Tomas,
has a major interest in at least one Texas bank.
Despite a welter of criminal intelligence held both sides of the
Southwest border on the Zaragoza Fuentes, the family has remained
virtually untouched by law enforcement. This is alleged to be the
result of the high-grade Mexican political connections they enjoy. TECS
reports say, for instance, the family has relatives of former Mexican
attorney general and former Chihuahua governor Oscar Flores Sanchez,
including his son Oscar Flores Tapia, working for them.
But the family has remained undisturbed in the United States as well:
In spite of a major IRS tax-violation case against members of the
family in Texas, and seven years of detailed narcotics allegations
against them, no asset-forfeiture efforts have been mounted by American
authorities. This has led some former and current DEA and Customs
agents to complain about lack of direction and political will in the
war on drugs.
An old Juarez family, the Zaragoza Fuentes are related by blood to
Carillo Fuentes and by marriage to the original cartel leaders -- a
cousin, Pedro, is the brother-in-law of the two Rafaels Munoz Talavera
and Aguilar Guajardo. According to U.S. intelligence reports (copies
are held by Insight), the patriarch of the family was Miguel Sr., who
had four sons -- Miguel, now 62, Eduardo, 59, Tomas, 52, and Ricardo,
43 -- and one daughter -- Irma. Their story is one of rags to riches --
Miguel Sr. started out as a kitchen-cabinet salesman.
On the face of it the family owns or controls a vast empire of
legitimate businesses stretching from the United States through Central
America and extending east to the Bahamas and Germany. A 35-page U.S.
multi-agency intelligence-analysis records: "The Zaragoza-Fuentes
family heads one of the world's largest suppliers of LP (liquid
propane) gas. Through a myriad of companies, the family operates and
controls business interests ranging from LP distributine, to maritime
shipping, trucking, aviation, land holdings, management companies and
banking interests." Family companies are licensed by PEMEX, the
state-owned Mexican oil industry, to supply propane to the whole of
Mexico. But "behind the vertically integrated companies, the
horizontally related companies, the real companies, the shell
companies, the web of shared addresses and the recurring names is a
second empire ... built on narcotics smuggling, money laundering,
income-tax evasion, export violations and weapons smuggling," says the
Both Mexican and U.S. authorities initially launched separate probes
into the family in October 1990 after Customs officials at the
California Otay Mesa port of entry discovered four tons of cocaine in a
Hidrogas de Juarez tanker owned by the Zaragozas (see "Megacorruption
at the Border," Nov. 11, 1996). But the inquiries petered out. In 1994,
a joint U.S.-Mexico money-laundering investigation into the family,
Operation Cobra, floundered when Mexican law-enforcement agencies
refused to cooperate.
"The propane-gas companies were not looked into this side of the border
as early as they should have been," complains a former Customs agent.
Why? "We just weren't gung-ho enough." Former DEA agent Jordan, who
until 1995 was director of the El Paso Intelligence Center, a federal
information-sharing facility, complains: "We knew about HidroGas and
the other trucking companies but did nothing. We should have closed
them down -- still should." Insight has identified more than 60
Zaragoza Fuentes-owned or -controlled firms, some of which, despite
strong U.S. suspicions of drug trafficking and money laundering, are
participants in the border line-release program, a Customs
import-export scheme designed to speed trucks through US. ports of
entry by reducing cargo inspections. Dozens of Zaragoza Fuentes tankers
pass daily through American land crossings. They just keep on trucking.
But Insight efforts to reach a family spokesman were unsuccessful.
The Zaragozas' charmed life has been long. Back in the mid-1980s, U.S.
authorities failed to intervene after discovering that firms owned or
controlled by the family, including Western Energy, Warren Petroleum,
Paso del Norte, Gas Del Tropico and HidroGas of Juarez, broke the
American embargo on Nicaragua and exported propane gas and liquid
petroleum to the Sandinistas via Honduras and Guatemala. "We were
sleepwalking then and still are," remarks a DEA agent. "Now we have to
try to deal with a cartel that has an annual income which rivals our
entire federal antidrug budget."
Grupo Zeta is investigated for Money Laundering
Fortuna, May 2007
by Ana Lilia Perez
Directors and employees of Grupo Zeta, who during the 90s were
investigated by the DEA for drug smuggling, are now under the eye
of Mexican authorities for alleged money laundering.
Grupo Zeta’s problems with Mexican and U.S. authorities never
end. After the most important propane gas firm in Mexico, owned by
Miguel Zaragoza Fuentes and his son Jesus Zaragoza Lopez, was
investigated by the DEA in the 90s, today the Secretaria de Hacienda,
Department of the Treasury has opened an ongoing investigation for
alleged money laundering against Oscar Matamoroz Nuñez and
Sergio Cisnero Mata, employees of the Grupo Zeta in their central
offices in Ciudad Juarez.
The employees are have worked many years in the firm and are said to
have a close relationship with Miguel and Jesus Zaragoza. The
investigation by Mexican financial authorities began because the
salaries of the employees of the Grupo Zeta do not match the
multimillionaire financial movements that are being carried out in
In 2003, the Administracion General de Auditotria Fiscal Federal opened
case number IPF5300011/03 against Sergio Cisneros, given that he made bank
deposits of 750 million pesos, when he is merely an administrative
employee of the Grupo Zeta's offices in Juarez. According to the case
file, Matamores Nuñuz is currently a fugitive.
The 80 gas distributors under Jesus Zaragoza have displaced PEMEX in
carrying out functions that are only allowed by the constitution to be
carried out by this state agency.
Miguel and Jesus Zaragoza are known for their relationship with
presidents, governors and secretaries of state. They own a personal
hangar for their three private jets on which you can see their
logo— Zeta—from 15,000 feet above. In the largest border in
the world, they control a veritable emporium.
You can feel the power of money. The arid and monotonous scenery
changes along the Panamerican highway when you suddenly see a row of
trees, well kept lawns that remains green year round within the 30
hectares of the corporate offices just across from the Juarez
airport. Within these offices are found an Hidrogas plant,
Industrias Pikin, Tabsa, baseball and soccer fields, swimming pools, a
special events center, and a so-called Univerity of Gas, that seats
10,000 employees of the Mexican corporation and where you can find a
replica of the boat named “Evangelina 1” named in honor of
the wife of Miguel Zaragoza Fuentes.
The meeting room-that you reach by climbing up a stair with
copper handrails is a huge room with large windows with green velvet
curtains and surrounded by Roman columns. Behind a large mahogany
desk outlined with Egyptian hieroglyphics sits Jesus Zaragoza Lopez.
When asked about the money laundering charges against Oscar Matamoros
and Sergio Cisneros he brushes the charges aside. Their lawyers
“will take care of the matter.”
Are they still working for you?
Yes. I talked to them and they are being audited by the Department of the Treasury.
Did they tell you why they are being investigated?
No, they didn’t. They just said their attorneys are looking into this matter.
What does it mean for your firm to be investigated for this matter?
I think there are a lot of people within the firm, both officers and employees who are currently being investigated.
Does this seem normal to you?
I think all the executives are in the process of being investigated or audited.
What do Sergio and Oscar do within the firm?
They are in operations.
What type of operations are we talking about?
The operations of the firm. From administration of the distribution
plants, to the trucks, in the general administration, in everything.
Are you worried that you are being investigated?
The truth is, no, not right now. Not yet. It’s more a personal kind of investigation than that of the firm.
But in the Treasury investigation has mentioned your corporation as a target?
I don’t know why they gave this as their address, but let their lawyers fix that.
Is this not a reason for dismissal?
No, the truth of the matter is, no.
Zaragoza Lopez refuses to give out more information. These types of
investigations are a matter of routine for him, due to his good
connections with current and former government officials at the federal
level. And the business perks that he’s received from the fiscal
authorities, like the time the the Treasury Department fined Miguel
Zaragoza Fuentes 30 million pesos for tax evasion and a few days later
29 million was returned to him.
Zaragoza Lopez explains: “look at that, what strange things
happen, for my father (Miguel Zaragoza Fuentes) we had to pay a fine of
30 million pesos, but later, thanks to the an amnesty by the Treasury
Department, they gave us back 29 million pesos.”
He said that although an investigation by the DEA concluded about 4
years ago, the Mexican authorities have “reserved the right to
continue investigating us.”
Zaragoza argues: “No authority is willing to say, you know what, close the investigation against Grupo Zeta.”
The bad reputation of Miguel Zaragoza Fuentes and his sons Jesus Alonso
and Miguel Zaragoza Lopez began 17 years ago, in November 1990, when
his trailer was stopped by customs agents carrying several tons of
cocaine. Since then, the DEA began investigation the owners of Zeta
Gas. Jesus Zaragoza Lopez says he thought the US authorities were going
to throw him and his family in prison for the drugs they found. Today,
many years later, he talks of the interrogations that he and members of
his family were submitted to and the pressure they were under. He seems
uncomfortable, but he agrees to remember some of that history related
“It begins with our trucks that were crossing the border and
would come back empty and on that occasion a DEA agent became
suspicious and asked to stop the vehicle to check it, but they
didn’t find anything. Only a trained dog wouldn’t stop
barking at the tires, so they brought another dog and it too started
barking at the truck tire. They brought someone to take them off and
check them but they didn’t find anything. The DEA agents
didn’t agree with each other that there was anything there, they
detained the driver and the truck, but some time later they let
the driver go.”
“The next day they called us from the Customs office to ask us
why we hadn’t gone with the mechanic to open up the tank, and the
chief of transportation of the firm told him he didn’t know. So
they told us that they had one of our trailers confiscated, so the
chief of transport went with the mechanic to the zone to open up the
tanker, and the tanker was weighing more than normal and when they
opened it up they found 7000 pounds of drug, and that’s how the
investigation started. Obviously, nothing was ever known about the
Did they let him go?
They let him go. They couldn’t detain him any longer.
Was he one of your workers?
Yes, he worked for us for more than 20 years.
What was his name?
And what happened to you?
Well as I said, we went through a lot of trouble, investigation, risks
with permits, obviously, for transportation, that they could have
blocked our permits to transport or even travel to the U.S.
Did you try to travel?
No everything was done according to the law but it took about four years of investigation both in Mexico and the US.
What cartel did the drug belong to?
We never found out?
Was anyone arrested?
No, thank God, nobody was.
How much did you spend in your defense?
I wouldn’t know.
Did you have many lawyers?
Did anyone harass you?
No, thank God.
No one. They investigated then that was it. After a while, around 2003,
there were other investigations also (he is referring to tax evasion
investigations by the SHCP.)
They never found drug in you truck.
No, thank God.
Zaragoza sighs and confesses that it make him tense to talk about this
and says the investigations for money laundering and tax evasion
Zeta Gas, or Hidrogas, was founded by Miguel Zaragoza Vizcarra in 1946. He would buy it from Chevron and sell it in Juarez.
There are maps of all the plants that that the Zaragozas have
throughout the world. With all of this, Jesus Zaragoza, the owner of
the largest transnational gas company in Mexico complains that there is
“very little profit” due to the rise in the cost of gas and
accuse PEMEX of pocketing all the profits.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation A government agency that
helps US. firms invest in developing countries has approved millions of
dollars to assist a gas firm that owes more than 70 million dollars in
In 2002, OPIC gave an insurance police for 25 million dollars to a
propane gas terminal in Guatemala is part of the firm owned by Miguel
and Jesus Zaragoza of the Grupo Zeta. It gave the insurance coverage to
a participant in that project, Texas Overseas Gas Corporation,
whose president is a relative of the Zaragoza Fuentes family and an
important executive of Zeta Gas.
In 1991, the IRS took action against Grupo Zeta firms to get the 4.7
million dollars owed to them. Agents confiscated 8 tankers and
equipment. The company paid 4.7 million dollars in 1996.
"THE INVESTIGATIONS WENT NOWHERE"
Notes from the House Committee on the Zaragoza Fuentes-Narcotraffic connection
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 1997
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:38 a.m., in room 2237,
Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Lamar Smith (chairman of the
subcommittee) presiding. Present: Representatives Lamar Smith,
Sonny Bono, William L. Jenkins, Edward A. Pease, Christopher B. Cannon,
and Melvin L. Watt. Also present: Representative Silvestre Reyes.
“Juarez, adjacent to El Paso, has grown from ten years ago being
a medium-sized border town to the fourth largest city in Mexico.
Juarez, categorized as dangerous and of little historical note, now is
home to Amado Carrillo Fuentes, currently, the most notorious Mexican
drug trafficker. He is very influential in Juarez. Local newspapers
write little about him, the police do not attempt to arrest him.
Although his family originates in Sinoloa, Carrillo Fuentes associates
with some members of a very influential local family—the
Zaragoza-Fuentes. Members of this family own over 60 businesses in
Juarez, El Paso, and others in the United States, some of which
allegedly are used for money laundering and drug trafficking.
Businesses include real estate firms, real estate, transport companies,
and the propane gas company that was called Hidrogas. In October 1990,
the United States and Mexico initiated an investigation of this family
after four tons of cocaine were discovered in a Hidrogas propane truck;
however, the investigation did not produce results. Again, in 1994, a
joint investigation by the United States and Mexico was centered on the
money laundering activities of some members of this family. However,
Mexico withdrew and the investigation went nowhere. Dozens of this
company's propane trucks continue to cross weekly into El Paso and
other US border cities; however, because of their participation in the
program for border privileges, which was designed to expedite cross
border traffic, reportedly their trucks are not inspected
routinely. (April 23, 1997) Subcommittee on Immigration.”
Eduardo Zaragoza Fuentes-The Anti-entrepreneur
Cronica, July 9, 1998
by Miguel Pineda
write about successful entrepreneurs in this column. Unfortunately, not
all of them carry out their business appropriately. Many people have
accumulated great wealth through fraudulent means. This is the case
with Eduardo Zaragoza Fuentes, who has committed many illegal activites
in Mexico and abroad.
The main businesses of Eduardo abroad are in Central
America—Tropigas is in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and
Nicaragua. He will soon enter Costa Rica with a new firm.
In Guatemala, together with his partner Manuel Iteriano, since 1987
he avoided paying taxes, smuggled gas from Mexico to Guatemala, made
illegal used of subsidies for his private benefit, cheated the
population with semi-full tanks, tried to eliminate the competition
through monopoly practices and delivering inferior products to his
competitors as well as use of arms that can only be legally carried by
the armed forces. In fact for this illegal act Manuel Interiano ended
up in jail, although Eduardo Zaragoza managed to escape.
All of this illegal activity is well documented in the newspapers between 1987 and 1998.
The Pemex-Zaragoza Fuentes Connection
Contralinea, March 30, 2007
by Ana Lilia Perez
Despite the dark history of corruption surrounding PEMEX-influence
trafficking and millions in bribes to officials-the gas moguls Miguel
and his son Jesus Zaragoza were received with open arms by the new
director of Pemex Gas, Roberto Ramirez Soberon. Ramirez was charged
before the Secretaria de la Funcion Publica as an alleged member of
influence trafficking and corruption network that works in PEMEX in
favor of the Grupo Zeta. Thanks to his help the Grupo Zeta have not
only managed to get rid of their small competitors but are even pushing
PEMEX aside, since they now they want to control the gas ducts and
distribution plants currently owned by PEMEX.
Central America: The Dark Monoploy of the Mexican Gas Kings
by Velia Jaramillo
In Guatemala Grupo Zeta and Tomza control 98 percent of domestic gas
importations. They’ve been accused of corruption, illegal
monopolies and collusion with military dictatorships that controlled
the market during their reign of power. Their own star, however, keeps
rising. Tomaz Zaragoza had connections with officers of the military
regime of general Oscar Humberto Mejia Victores. In 1996 the Zaragozas
had problems in Guatemala because they were selling at market price gas
that they had purchased from PEMEX at a subsidized prize.
The Bad Gas Businessmen
July 16, 1998
A few days ago Mexico blushed when one of its citizens accidentally
extinguished the flame of the Unknown Soldier in France. I the same
way, there are several “industrialists” that damage the
image of Mexico abroad, such as Eduardo Zaragoza Fuentes, that has been
sued by Geogas, Amoco Oil and Enron.
More than 10 years ago, Eduardo Zaragoza Fuentes entered the
international gas market with disastrous results. He’s been
sued by international American firms and in Central America he’s
up for fiscal fraud and for smuggling weapons that are exclusive to the
armed forces. Since 1987, the newspapers in Guatemala and Nicaragua,
report the various lawsuits that local propane gas businessmen have
brought against Eduardo Zaragoza. In 1997, Geogas brought a lawsuit
against Zaragoza in the Harris County, Texas district for gas he never
paid. G6-29130. He purchased gas in the name of two “ghost
corporations” Petrogas and Transworld. He simply refused to
pay. Gogas has sued for 406 thousand dollars. He also owes Enron Gas
liqud 1.2 million dollars and Amoco Oil 638 thousand dollars. Because
of these debts, Eduardo cannot enter the U.S.
In Puerto Rico he was accused of illegal hoarding, fixing prices,
acquiring illegal franchises and failure to obtain the required
permits. In the Dominican Republic he committed various illegal acts
including contract violations and consumer fraud. He was expelled from
the country with the help of the military.
Money Laundering Investigation Blocked
The Office of the Attorney General in Mexico has intensified its
collaboration and information exchanged with the DEA and the FBI,
Interpol as well as authorities from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia to
understand the organizational structure of the Juarez Cartel.
Reliable sources tell us that the investigation regarding the Zaragoza
Fuentes have turned up proof of illegal activities by the family,
especially Pedro, as far as money launder for the Juarez Cartel, but
investigators have been blocked by City officials.
Grupo Z hands president Vicente Fox the bill
Apro, September 6, 2003
by Pedro Zamorra
Colima, Col.—With the installation of a distribution plant for propane
gas in the port of Manzanillo, that it invested 180 million dollars,
the powerful Grupo Zeta—that has been accused of illegal
monopolies in Mexico and abroad—will now increase its presence in
the Western part of Mexico.
The Grupo Z and their owners, who control more than 71 percent of the
propane gas that is consumed in Mexico, have been the object of various
types of investigations.
In February 19, 2003, a few days of the tragic accident involving
the company’s 18-wheeler tanker in the highway between Mexico
City and Toluca, the PRD deputies asked that the federal government
suspend their license for distribution.
They brought up the fact that they not only fail to maintain adequate
safety measures for their trucks but they also illegally monopolize the
The Grupo Z controls more than 65 diverse subsidiary companies in
Mexico, some with a contract wit Pemex and some that function only as
distributors. The owners of Grupo Z supported Fox as part of the Amigos
de Fox for the presidency.
In the last 30 years in Guatemala, the Zaragoza family control almost all the gas imports for domestic consumption there.
Recently Grupo Zeta has begun the construction of two projects in
Spain, a complex of gas tanks in Murcia and a distribution center in
Cartagena in which there will be about a 200 million dollar investment
at the end of next year.
Zaragoza the gas man, another Foxista under investigation
Proceso, March 3, 2003
by Jesus Cervantes y Alejandro Gutierrez
Eduardo Fernandez, ex-president of the Comision Nacional Bancaria y de
Valores revealed to Alicia Salgado, reporter of El Financiero, that the
DEA has proof of money laundering by Jesus Zaragoza, member of the
Zaragoza Fuentes family.
A high ranking official of the DEA in the US confirmed to Proceso that
Jesus Zaragoza is under investigation. A report by the U.S. Customs
service, dated November 19, 1991, that was written after four tons of
cocain were passed through Mesa de Otay, California mentions the name
of Jesus Zaragoza (although mispelled as Zaragosa).
Federal Deputy (PDR) Alfredo Hernandez Raigoza, in a press conference
on February 17 pointed at that the owners of the Grupo Z pare part of
the Amigos de Fox. “Read the list of the Amigos de Fox campaign
and you’ll find the Zaragoza Fuentes family there. That is where
the present protection of their business comes from.”
Besides propane gas businesses, the family also is involved in the business of real estate, sodas, liquor and sports.
The father of the current members of the clan was Miguel Zaragoza,
married with Eulogia Fuentes. His son are Miguel-head of the Grupo
Zeta, Tomas-of the Grupo Tomza, Eduardo, Ricardo and a sister. Miguel
Zaragoza Fuentes has a son named Jesus. Don Miguel had three brothers,
Miguel, Rafael and Pedro-who is married to Cuca Fuentes- the father of
the lechero Pedro Zaragoza Fuentes, cousin of Miguel and Tomas.
The columnist for El Universal, Raymundo Riva Palacio, has written
often about the close relationship the Zaragoza family has with several
members of the Vicente Fox cabinet. According to Riva Palacio,
the ex-chancelor (Secretary of Foreign Affairs) Jorge Castanneda
“put pressure on the Mexican embassies in Central America so that
they would back the Zaragoza family business in establishing a
monopoloy on the gas market in the region.
Victoria Caraveo Vallina, the director of the non-government
organization “Mujeres por Juarez, is the leader of a consumer
advocacy group on the border, says that until a few years ago, the
Zaragoza family controlled 72% of the butane gas distribution at the
national level. They have operations in the US, Beliz, Guatemala,
Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Peru.
Pedro Zaragoza Fuentes, the head of the Grupo Agroindustrial Zaragoza,
produces more than 1 million liters a day. He is the owners of Corona
beer [until 2006], two stadiums in Juarez and more than 80 gasoline stations just in
Juarez. He was investigated for tax fraud, 2.2 million dollars during
the Carlos Salinas presidency. At the time the General Attorney’s
office linked him to the Juarez cartel, given that two of his
wife’s sisters were married with the narcotraffickers Rafael
Aguilar Guajardo and Rafael Muñoz Talavera.
Although the Office of Attorney General confiscated more than 38
properties in September of 1994, the investigation floundered in the
courts. At the time, governor Francisco Barrio intervened on his
behalf, claiming Pedro Zaragoza was an honest businessman.
Proceso has a copy of the U.S. Customs report in which it is mentioned
that in March 1991, after cocaine was found at Mesa de Otay, Miguel
Zaragoza ordered for gas transportation to be done no more by his
company’s tank truck, but by train. According to the report,
Jesus Zaragoza sent five Hidrogas tankers from Yucatan to the Mexicali
plant then to Tijuana. In one of those tankers, the Federal police
(Policia Judicial Federal) discovered in November of 1990 “ a ton
In April 1997, 60 minutes broadcast a news program about the corruption
of the U.S. Customs service; DEA agents stated that at least 7 trucks
belonging to Hidrogas had been modified to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.
On April 24, Miguel refuted the program in a paid advertisement
published by the Diario de Juarez where he stated that “it would
be absurd to jeopardize our efforts for 50 years participation in
activities that are foreign to our business and
philosophy.” He reminded his readers that his company had
been exonerated of all charges against it in the U.S. At a later date,
the program apologized and accepted that one document [implicating a
U.S. Customs agent] were false.
Mexican Businesmman Violates Labor Rights in Guatemala
October 25, 2003
Guatemala City-The supplier of more than 50 percent of the propane gas
that is consumed in Guatemala, the Mexican corporation Tomza, property
of the empresario Tomas Zaragoza, has been publicly charged by workers
and labor union leaders of engaging anti-union practices and of
flagrantly violation Guatemalan law.
Legal charges against Tomza have been pressed by the Ministry of Labor,
judicial courts and even by the Ministerio publico, for an alleged
campaign of harassment against workers who have been trying to
reorganize a labor union.
Tomas Zaragoza’s managers in Guatemala fired 27 worker in mid
July who participated in a meeting to reoganize a union affiliated
witht he United Labor Confederacion of Guatemala.
Once the union was broken, the business begain to violate the workers
rights, forcing them to work unpaid overtime and limiting their work
tools. Zeta Gas has been involved in old conflicts with the
National Association of Gas Distributors and Sellers. since 2000 and
2001 Tomza has been accused of monopolistic practices and of getting
rid of the competition through price wars.
June 20, 2004
by The Guatemalan Daily
Tropigas, owned by Eduardo Zaragoza Fuentes, provides 87 percent of the
domestic market in El Salvador and 45 percent of the commercial and
industrial market. Eduardo takes advantages of state subsidies
for rent. He also installed the Dagas plant in Febrauary.
In June 29, 2004 Dagas has been chaarged by the Association of
Salvadoran Propane Gas Distributors for “systematically
destroying small and medium propane gas businesses in El
Salvador.” The Prensa Grafica de El Salvador revealed on
July 2, that the Tropigas firm of Eduardo Zaragoza commited 21
violations for selling faulty gas tanks, fixing prices illegally,
failure to comply with safety regulations. In Guatemala, in a similar
line, he was also accused of monopolizing the market through illegal
means, of “selling gas with inexact weights, bad quality of the
product” and the worst charge : “causing the death of many
people due to the explosions of gas tanks that did not comply with
safety regulations.” The legal action charges that the fraudulent
skimming of gas has result in the theft of more than 6 million gallons
Zaragoza Fuentes Links with Drug Smugglers
Narco News, August 15, 2001
by Jose Martinez
SY13CE91SY008-This case involves the confiscation of 3957 kgs of cocaine at La Mesa de Otay on October 3, 1990.
EP06AR90EP0003-Case involving Zaragoza Fuentes. Pedro Zaragoza owns and
controlls all the milk distributors in Chihuahua and Durango. He owns a
house in Coronado, San Diego, California. The wife of Pedro Zaragoza is
the sister of the wife of Rafael Aguilar. Rafael Aguilar is currentlyu
in a Mexico City jail and is a well known drug smuggler from Chihuahua.
The other sister in law of Pedro Zaragoza is the wife of Rafael
Muñoz Talavera ( the owner of 20 tons of cocaine that were
confiscated in Sylmar, Los Angeles in 1989.)
EP02CR98EO0002 The case involves the relationship between Pedro
Zaragoza with Rafael Aguilar. After the death of Amado Carillo Fuentes,
Pedro Zaragoza started to reside more in San Diego. The investigation
was started in 1997.
Links with Narcotraffic:
1) Informers have indicated that Amado Carrillo Fuentes was a heavy
investor in the maritime company Transportacion Maritima Mexicano.
Carlos Hank Rhon is one the directors of this company. Other investors
include the Zaragoza Fuentes family. With this compay they can control
the land and sea transports of various products.
Pedro Zaragoza has a residential home in Ancho Blue Cay No. 61,
Coronado Cays, San Diego. The driver of Hydro Gas was Ruben Tapia
Sanchez. He was detained at the Mesa de Otay crossing with 4 tons of
Arrest Warrant put out on the president of Tropigas de El Salvador
Diario Co Latino, San Salvador, July 5, 2007
A order of arrest has been placed by the court of Santa Cruz Michapa
(El Salvador) against Eduardo Zaragoza Fuentes for “Denuncia
Calumnosia”—calumnious denunciation. Fuentes is the owner, president and legal representative of
Tropigas, El Salvador. The source of this legal action arose when
Zaragoza Fuentes unilaterally broke a business contract with Romero
Sanchez, who owned one Tropicas distributor. When Romero was
absolved of Zaragoza’s legal action against him for illegal
appropriation of goods, he filed a countersuit. Zaragoza Fuentes, did
not appear in court, notr did his try to explain his abscence, thus the
Judge of la Paz ordered his arrest. A reliable source informed that
this order for his arrest has still not been carried out because the
Zaragoza lawyers have appealed the sentence. Tropicas has been under
investigation for selling tanks that are not full. The Ministerio de
Economia has question the fact that it receives governmental subsidies
so that it will not raise the price of gas.
El Diario, September 15, 2002
Tenth Aniversaria, Pedro and Rafael Zaragoza Vizcarra
In 1936 the brothers Pedro and Rafael Zaragoza Vizcarra founded the
Zaragoza Hermanos business, now Lecheria Zaragoza. Thirty years later
during the 70s they had 1,500 cows and the largest milk company in the
country. In 1970 the business was taken over by Pedro Zaragoza
Fuentes and his brother Jorge and became the Grupo Agroindustrial
Zaragoza. It is now present in five citys in Mexico. They provide jobs
to 6,500 heads of family and produce more than 1 million liters daily.
Norte, May 13, 2003
The refrigerated bodies
by Isabel Arvide, (Mexico city journalist that was imprisoned twice by Chihuahuan government)
Jose Luis Santiago Vascolencos , the director of UEDO says that they
have identified various groups behind the murders....Is going
“woman hunting” a new sport for the inheritors of the rich
and the even richer narcotrafficantes? What the experts know about this
is that there apparently is a new brotherhood who is in charge of this
sport, this dirty business...During the administration of Francisco
Barrio and some of the current PRIstas there’s been talk of the
great complicity between the local police and the criminals? How is it
possible that no DNA tests have ever been done if all of these women
were raped? Whom does this lack of investigation benefit? Why are we
afraid of naming powerful families such as the Zaragoza Fuentes?
Silence has been the official order of the day. The price of telling
the truth is very high, and were not only talking about prison.
El Diario, August 25, 2003
Plan Estrategico de Ciudad Juarez —The Stragetic Plan of Juarez
They Will Change the Course of Juarez
"A Project of the Empresarios Whose Aim it Is to Reenergize the Vision of Urban Development"
Powerful empresarios, some who were instrumental in breaking the power
of the PRI 20 years ago, are now involved in an even more ambitious
project—change the course of economic development...Among the
more visible elements of this group are Miguel, Pedro and Tomas
Zaragoza Fuentes of the Corporacion Atlas, Lecheria Zaragoza and
Industrias Zaragoza respectively. Former Mayor Manuel Quevedo and
Valentin Fuentes Varela, owner of the real estage agency Condak Pulta
also form part of of this project as do Jaime Creel and Enrique and
Federico Terrazas of the Ruba Group and Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua. So
does Eloy Vallina Leguera, of the the Corporacion Chihuahua.
Norte-August 21, 2002
Civil Group named the Plan Estrategico de Juarez is headed by both a private and public sector
Said organization has among its most visible members
Pedro Zaragoza Fuentes, Federico Barrio Terrazas, Jaime Bermudez
Cuaron, Federico de la Vega, Manuel Quevedo Reyes, Miguel Zaragoza
Fuentes, as well as Patricio Martinez and Jesus Alfredo Delgado as part
of the private sector.
The Plan Estrategico de Juarez is a non-profit citizens group whose
mission is to plan the long term development strategy of the fifth
largest city in Mexico, states one of the group’s brochures.
Juarez Empresarios Demand an End to Defamation Against the Tomza Group
February 6, 2004 El Diario
The business community
of Juarez categorically rejects all sorts of defamation against Tomas
Zaragoza Fuentes and Enrique Zaragoza carried out by various media
sources. Their track record and prestige is irreproachable.
Desarrollo Economico de Ciudad Juarez, A.C.
The Appreciative Juarez Community Honors Those Who Merit Honor
December 3, 2006
El Diario de Juárez
In the early part of the year, Mr. Pedro and Mr. Jorge Zaragoza Fuentes
solicited the intervention of the honorable Mayor Ing. Hector Murguia
Lardizabal, to endeavour to find a solution to the well known problem
involving the rustic landplot located in the “Anapra” zone
that was purcheased by Don Pedro Zaragoza Vizcarra, on the 23rd of
September, 1963. Likewise, the members of the Comite Procereacion
Granjas Lomas de Poleo, represented by Mr Faustino Olivares, made the
following agreement before Mayor Murguia.
Both sides were profoundly aware that Mayor Murguia, from the beginnig
of his administration, has shown to be prfoundly interested in giving
juridical certaintiy to those families who are illegally settled in the
zone. He instructed Lic. Carlos Morales Villalobors, the
executive director of the City Housing Authority, to use the law to immediately
initiate conciliation talks, with the object of resolving this historic
problem and finding a solution that will benefit the inhabitants of
this part of the city.
We, the Pedro Zaragoza Vizcarra Foundation, will donate 10 hectares to
the City to develop a housing complex, for the good of the colonos who
agree to legalize their situation, free of charge they will receive a
650 square meter lot and material for self-made home construction.
THANK YOU Mayor Hector “Teto” Murguia, for your persistent
and thoughtful commitment to finding a solution to this historic
problem that no authority before you at either the local, state or
federal government had found before you. You and your administration
have demonstrated sensible political will to making sure the Law is
respected on behalf of private property and making sure that those who
have the least will be certain of their homestead and in obtaining
social justice as well.
We congratulate ourselves for having overcome our differences, thanks
to the excellent disposition, ability and talent of our current
municipal authorities who do all for the benefit of our community. We
will continue to support good government, good public service and good
Pedro Zaragoza Vizcarra Foundation,
Lic. Claudia Patricia Zaragoza Delgado, President
Paid Advertisement by Zaragoza’s (after murder of Luis Alberto Guerrero)
Diario, November 2005
It has never been my style or has it been an interest of mine to appear
in the media to make statements over any issue; however, after a series
of attacks about me and my brother Jorge, I think it is the right time
to bring out the truth regarding our properties on the west of the city
known as Lomas de Poleo. On November 11, 2005, El Norte published an
article about the aforementioned plot of land, an article that was
reprinted under a series of headings. Surely the source of this
information was the throng who is behind the effort to evict us from
our land legitimately purchased by our family.
In fact, in November 23, 1963 our father Mr. Pedro Zaragoza Vizcarra
brought 2000 hectares in the aforementioned zone from Mr. Lauro Ortego.
On January 3, 1973, our father donated 200 hectares to captain David
Alatorre Trejo for $1500 who was the pseudo-leader of a group of
families who wanted to settle in the zone. Later, Alatorre Trejo sold
his lots that had been promised for the use of people who lacked homes.
Susequently our property has suffered various invasions that have been
carried out by a group of opportunistic person who pretend to protect
low-income people, but do it for materialistic purposes. These people
of “good conscience” are nothing more than professional
thieves. They’ve dedicated themselves to filing lawsuits
against us in support of various invaders of Lomas de Poleo such as
those belonging to Comite Procreacion Granjas Lomas De Poleo lead
by Manuel Jimenez Garcia, Luis Urbina and Faustino Olivarez Nava.
The fact that the colonos have schools, day care centers, named streets
and registered addresses is merely a humanitarian act on the part of
On our part, in order to restore order and tranquility to this zone, we
have given the City a plot of land where more than 60 families can be
settled although they are now illegally on our property.
We are a business family that respects the law. We recently complained
before the National Human Rights Commission because we feel our rights
have been violated by the actions carried out by certain state
agencies. Our business is within the law and it is not in our interest
to take the law into our our hands or take over property that is not
A Juarez newspaper has described the Zaragoza Fuentes family as an
industrial group dedicated exclusively to increase its economic power
without any sense of social responsibility. We have always been
concerned about this since this is how our parents taught us to be
conscientious in our work and serve others. It is not our intent to
make our works on behalf others public. Every month thousands of people
on the border receive donations including the elderly, orphans,
rehabilitation centers and refugees, without regard to sex, religion or
their economic status (we’ve included a list of Juarez
institutions that receive these benefits). We help because we want to
help, since these contributions that exceed half a million monthly
pesos are not tax deductible contributions. We reiterate the urgent need for public opinion to become aware of who
is behind the media reports that insult our family and offend the
courts themselves that are accused of having sold out to us. It is our
right to defend what is ours.
Mr. Pedro Zaragoz Fuentes
List of Institutions that Benefit from Our Contributions
House of Jesus
The City of the Child
St. Francis of Assis Orphanage
Casa del Migranta
Christ the King
Vino, Trigo Y Aceite
Father Hugo Muñoz
Family Missionary Group
A total of 39 institutions and groups
Monthly summary of contributions.
Benefitted invidiuals: 2,530
Number of Asylums, Orphanages and Rehabilitation Homes: 39
Liters of Milk per month: 33,960
Kilos of Cheese: 2,670
Liters of Oranges: 2,490
Jugs of Purified Water: 148
Kilos of Meat: 3,782
Monthly Total: $548,227 pesos
Gas Firm erases evidence of explosion
El Diario, July 18, 2007
The Zaragoza-owned Biogas company cleaned up its site and painted it
gray hours after the explosion without permission of the authorities
before the Grupo de Lesiones de la Subprocuraduria had a chance to
investigate the cause of the explosion. Authorities are looking
into possible legal violations.
El Diario, July 18, 2006
Biogas distributor has been operating without a permit. They did not carry fire extinguishers.
El Diario, July 19, 2007
Biogas employees pay cash to neighbors who suffered damage from the
employes. They made the neighbors sign documents that the company kept
without giving copies. Some of them were not allowed to read the
documents. They offered one person 300 dollars for the damage, finally
agreed on $500.
El Diario, July 19, 2007
Driver of Biogas tanker is in serious condition for first and second
degree burns that have affected his internal organs. He is near death.
El Diario, July 19, 2007
Biogas distribution site where explosion took place is temporarily
closed down for operating without permit and for violating safety
El Diario, July 28, 2007
Mayor Calls City Inspectors Irresponsible
Mayor Hector Murguia declared yesterday that the irregular gas
distributors that proliferated throughout the city are due to errors
commited by City inspectors. "The inspectors that allowed this to
happen are a bunch of irresponsible individuals," said the mayor.
"These kind of things happen because the City works with human beings,
because sometimes the City works with people without a social
concience, and all human beings make mistakes. Hopefully the inspectors
aren't stupid when they see these kind of things...hopefully they
didn't receive payoffs. That's why this kind of things happen."
The mayor said that instead of placing blame on people, one should
focus on finding a solution. He said an investigation has begun to see
if their are any irregularities committed by the inspectors. "We have
8,000 city employees. We have to make sure things are done better, that
these kinds of businesses operate within the law."
He said the City is in charge of licensing. "We have to find a
solution, otherwide many families will be left without gas," he said.
He added that a lot of the people that would suffer if all the gas
distribution companies are shut down are the poorer families in the
colonias. It is a social problem. This week when the Department
of Energy initiated its investigations it discovered that more than
half of all of them operate without a federal permit. Proteccion Civil
del Municipio informed that it has identified about 120 gas
distribution operations, yet only 55 of them have a permit to operate.
Mexican Drug Traffickers Show Family Values
"Drug Trafficking Is A Family Affair" The Washington Times, April 8, 1997, p. A21
By Jamie Dettmer
Mr. Carillo isn't the only Mexican
narco-trafficker who appears able to thumb a nose at America. A welter
of criminal intelligence is held on both sides of the Southwest border
on the Zaragoza Fuentes family of Juarez and El Paso - one of the five
main families behind Mr. Carillo's cartel. Even so, U.S. law
enforcement still allows 18-wheeler tankers owned by the family to
cross the border with little inspection. At least one Zaragoza firm is
a participant in the U.S. Customs Service's Cargo Carrier Initiative, a
ten-year-old import-export facilitation scheme that speeds trucks owned
by participating companies through border red-tape and inspections.
An old Juarez family, the Zaragoza Fuenteses are related by blood to
Mr. Carillo and by marriage to the cartel's original 1980s leadership.
Their story is a rags to riches one - the family's late patriarch,
Miguel Sr., started out as a kitchen-cabinet salesman. He had four sons
- Miguel, now 62, Eduardo, 59, Tomas, 52, Ricardo, 43 - and one
daughter - Irma. The Zaragozas now own the world's largest propane-gas
transport business and they're among Mexico's main milk suppliers.
Their commercial empire stretches from the U.S. through Central America
and extends east to the Bahamas and Germany.
A 35-page U.S. multi-agency intelligence analysis I've secured states:
"The Zaragoza-Fuentes family heads one of the world's largest suppliers
of LP (liquid propane) gas. Through a myriad of companies, the family
operates and controls business interests ranging from LP distributing
to maritime shipping, trucking, aviation, land holdings, management
companies and banking interests." Family companies, some of which are
registered in the U.S., are licensed by PEMEX, the state-owned Mexican
oil industry, to supply propane to the whole of Mexico. But "behind the
vertically integrated companies, the horizontally related companies,
the real companies, the shell companies, the web of shared addresses
and the recurring names is a second empire . . . built on narcotics
smuggling, money laundering, income tax evasion, export violations and
weapons smuggling," says the intelligence analysis.
Both Mexican and U.S. authorities initially launched separate probes
into the family in October 1990 after California-based Customs
officials discovered four tons of cocaine in a Hidrogas de Juarez
tanker owned by the Zaragozas. But inquiries petered out. In 1994, a
joint U.S.-Mexican money-laundering investigation into the family
called Operation Cobra floundered when Mexican law-enforcement agencies
refused to cooperate.
South of the Rio Grande, the Zaragozas are politically well-connected -
a classified U.S. Customs report notes the family employs relatives of
former Mexican attorney general Oscar Flores Sanchez, including his
son, Oscar Flores Tapia. DEA agents allege good political connections
explain the Zaragozas' immunity in Mexico. But what about north of the
border? In spite of a major IRS tax violation case against members of
the family in Texas and seven years of detailed narcotics allegations
against them, again no asset-forfeiture efforts have been mounted by
American authorities. This has led some former and current DEA and
Customs agents to complain about lack of direction and political will
in the U.S. war against drugs.
Zaragoza-owned California Gas Transport Seized
by Jamie Dettmer
A truck linked to California Gas Transport, the Zaragoza Fuentes-owned
firm that received Camacho’s backing in the June memo, was seized
at the Mexican ederal Judicial Police checkpoint in the state of
Tamaulipas on April 24 after being found to be carrying more than 6
metric tons of cocaine. Mexican officials initially claimed the
huge seizure--the beggest by the Mexican police since 1993--resulted
from a routine road check. Later they acknowledge to Notimex, the
Mexican press agency, that they have been keeping a closer eye on
trucking firms owned by the Zaragoza Fuentes family since the American
media focused on the gang. Som DEA sources suspec the seizure may
have been what is known in drug circles as a “giveaway.” As
one of these sources observes, “it strikes me as odd--the truck
was a long way from the border. I’m just wondering if the Mexican
police needed a load to take the heat off from their political
Insight learned that several Mexican firms owned by known or
suspect narcotraffickers are participaing in Customs’ own Cargo
Carrier Initiative Program, a 10-year-old schme alleged to facilitate
Ciudad Juarez: Rich and corrupt
By Norma Edith Ramírez H, Militante - México
Monday, 24 November 2003
The Zaragoza Fuentes family, owners of Grupo Z, were members of the
"Amigos de Fox". "Read the lists of Amigos de Fox during the campaign
and you will find the Zaragoza Fuentes family. That is where the
protection given by the current government to this family comes from,"
said former PRD federal MP Alfredo Hernandez Raigoza. The Zaragoza
family has close links with members of the Fox Cabinet, according to
Raymundo Riva Palacio, of El Universal paper. According to Riva
Palacio, the former Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Castañeda
"put pressure on the Mexican embassies in Central America to support
the attempts of the Zaragoza family to obtain control of the gas market
in the region". Incidentally, Castañeda was the only member of
the Cabinet to attend the wedding of Stephanie Korrodi to Fernando
Baeza, the son of former Chihuahua governor Fernando Baeza Melendez, in
The family companies control 72% of bottled gas delivery in the
country, most of the gas distributed in Central America, and they now
also have a plant in Peru. Miguel Zaragoza Fuentes, head of the Grupo
Zeta, announced on his website that the group is comprises more than 80
companies in Mexico where it has control over 14% of the gas
market and has operations in the US, Belize, Guatemala,
Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Peru. The group has now
announced a US$ 90 million investment in Murcia, Spain.
Pedro Zaragoza Fuentes, head of the Zaragoza Agroindustrial Group,
holds the concession for Corona beer [until 2006]; owns two stadiums in Juarez;
several leisure centres in the border region; and more than 80 petrol
stations in Juarez alone. He was under investigation for tax fraud
worth US$ 2.2 million during the Carlos Salinas government, when the
Republics General Prosecutor (PGR) accused him of being linked to the
Amado Carrillo cartel, pointing out that two of his sisters-in-law were
married to narcos Rafael Aguilar Guajardo and Rafael Muoz Talavera.
Despite the fact that the PGR presented more than 38 charges against
him in September 1994, the case was stopped in court. The then governor
of the state, Francisco Barrio, interceded in his favour, declaring
that he was "an honest businessman". The Zaragoza Fuentes family owns
land in Lomas de Poleo, one of the places, together with Lote Bravo,
where the bodies of the murdered women have been dumped. Another member
of the family is Tomas Zaragoza Fuentes, owner of the natural gas
distribution company Tomza.
Lawsuit Against Zaragoza firm, California Gas Transport for Violating National Labor Act
California Gas Transport Inc.
Private Company, Headquarters Location
5959 Gateway Blvd. W, Ste. 660, El Paso, TX, United States
Primary SIC: Trucking, Except Local, Primary NAICS: General Freight Trucking, Long-Distance, Truckload
The complaint alleges, the answer admits, and I find that the
Respondent is a Texas corporation, with an office and place of business
in El Paso, Texas (herein called the Respondent’s El Paso
facility), and an office and place of business in Nogales, Arizona
(herein called the Respondent’s Nogales facility), where it has
been engaged in the business of transporting propane gas. Further, I
find that during the 12-month period ending September 27, 2004, the
Respondent, in the course and conduct of its business operations,
derived gross revenues in excess of $500,000; and that during the same
period, the Respondent purchased and received at its Nogales facility
goods valued in excess of $50,000 directly from points located outside
the State of Arizona
The Respondent operates facilities in El Paso, Texas, and Nogales,
Arizona, where it employs truck drivers, and it also employs drivers in
the San Diego, California area. Transportadora Silza (hereinafter
referred to as Silza) operates facilities in the Mexican cities of
Juarez, Nogales, and Tijuana. According to the General Counsel, the
supervisors and agents of the Respondent and Silza have committed
numerous unfair labor practices against the
Respondent’s employees at the Respondent’s facilities in
Nogales, Arizona, and El Paso, Texas, and at the Silza facilities in
Juarez and Nogales, Mexico. These alleged unfair labor practices have
included interrogating employees about their union activities, creating
the impression of surveillance, threatening employees with discharge or
other reprisals for supporting the Union, promising employees a wage
increase for rejecting the Union, threatening
employees with the loss of a wage increase for supporting the Union,
and by informing employees that their selection of the Union to
represent them would be futile. This conduct by the Respondent is
alleged in the complaint as a violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the Act
Further, the General Counsel contends that nine drivers based at the
Respondent’s facility in El Paso, Texas were discharged allegedly
because they engaged in union and other protected concerted activity,
specifically a work stoppage, with the goal of obtaining a wage
increase and other benefits, including improved maintenance of their
trucks. The complaint names these nine employees as: Gonzalo Munoz,
Efren Munoz, Alonso Alonso, Ramon
Hernandez, Lorenzo Medina, Raul Almaraz, Jose Raul Almaraz, Rosario
Gastelum, and Jacinto Hernandez. These discharges are alleged as
violations of Section 8(a)(3) and (1) of the Act. The complaint also
alleges that two drivers based at the Respondent’s facility in
Nogales, Arizona, Rogelio Delgadillo and Robert Ryburn, were discharged
because they supported the Union’s effort to organize the
Respondent’s Nogales, Arizona facility, and engaged in other
protected concerted activity. For the same reasons, the Respondent
allegedly gave negative
employment references about Delgadillo and Ryburn to a prospective
employer of theirs, Coastal Transport. The discharges of Delgadillo and
Ryburn are alleged in the complaint as Section 8(a)(3) and (1)
violations of the Act, while the negative employment references are
alleged as Section 8(a)(1) violation
By counsel for the Respondent’s own admission in his post-hearing
brief, there was a history of “corruption at California
Gas.” Joel Meraz testified that after he was hired by the
Respondent as controller in September of 2003, he discovered that the
operations manager, Jesus Carrion, was engaged in corruption and
embezzlement. Carrion falsified rental contracts for automobiles,
airline trips, invoices, etc., and received kickbacks from drivers.
Following Carrion’s termination, Oscar Gardea15 was hired in
December of 2003, as the new operations manager. Gardea works out of
the Respondent’s main office in El Paso, Texas. Gardea testified
that he hires and fires drivers and directs their work. From the
evidence presented, there is no doubt that Gardea manages and directs
the daily operation of the Respondent.