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

Latin America World

Steve Duncan for Borderland Beat

David Barron Corona and Wife Judy Paraiso with Carolyn and Gustavo Rivera in 1991

Chivis Note: My friend, former agent Steve Duncan was at the arraignment of  Gustavo “Gus” Rivera, aka “El EP1” “P1” “El Gus”, who was extradited the same day as El Mayito Gordo Zambada from Mexico to the United States.  Steve has extensive knowledge of Rivera’s background and history and has put some of it to paper in this post for Borderland Beat. This is the first of two parts.
By Steve Duncan

ello Borderland Beat and my friends Chivis and Buggs. I wanted to share with you all my experiences and knowledge gained while investigating Gustavo Rivera-Martinez who was extradited to San Diego this past Thursday, December 19, 2019. Rivera is one of the most evil and influential characters in the San Diego/Tijuana drug scene over the past four decades and, for those who have been a part of the investigation, received an early Christmas Present.
Rivera was the connection to the Arellano-Felix Organization or AFO for San Diego gangbanger, David Barron-Corona, who brought dozens of fellow gang members to Tijuana to beef up the enforcement squads when the war between “Chapo” and the AFO was cemented in November 1992.
A few of the investigators from the case were present in the courtroom for Rivera’s initial hearing. DEA, HSI, USMS and FBI personnel were there even though nobody seemed to know about the extradition. There were no headlines and very little warning but we were there to see Rivera.

Some other guy, pudgy and plain-looking, was extradited with him – “Mayito Gordo.” They sat in the spacious jury section but in different rows.
In the front row was Cruz Elena Martinez-Herrera, Rivera’s wife. A portion of their four children accompanied her as well as Serafin Zambada-Ortiz. Pretty crazy stuff when you know that is was Rivera who built the bomb to blow up the Camino Real Hotel in Guadalajara in 1994 targeting Serafin’s father.

Gustavo and Carolyn Rivera with Juan Felix and spouse
The following biography on Rivera needs to be told for many reasons. Over the past 3 decades every AFO related defendant in San Diego has taken a plea. We have never been to trial on an AFO Case, except in state court. 
Defendants expect a sweet deal as it is the norm and compare it with the measly amount of time the last extradited kingpin received. We have never been able to show just how ugly these assholes are and the thousands of lives they have ruined. Our efforts in law enforcement are reduced and undermined by our federal prosecutors in this case and our leaders whom go along with them. 
Their message sent to the victims is “we really don’t care.” Imagine being a citizen who has been continually victimized, losing a number of loved ones over the course of the AFO reign of terror and reading that Benjamin Arellano-Felix received 25 years!
In reviewing the latest indictment, it does not reveal the monster Rivera has evolved into. He started as a drug trafficker, evolved into a mass murderer and led several cells of the AFO as a top lieutenant. 
We have great evidence on murders and abductions he was responsible for in his later years with the AFO as the organization itself evolved into a police-like organization maintaining a stranglehold on the Tijuana Plaza by policing it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For some reason his violent side is not mentioned in the indictment and I fear this bastard may get out of jail someday. His family reads about him being a “financier.” He is a filthy murdering drug kingpin, nothing less.

Gustavo Rivera-Martinez, aka “Gus,” “Pancho,” “Lorenzo,” “Lic” and “P-1.”
On July 22, 1961 Gustavo Rivera-Martinez and Charles Rivera-Martinez, United States Citizens, were born to Onelia Martinez and Ernest Rivera at Paradise Valley Hospital in National City, California.  Both parents were born in Mexico but immigrated to San Diego and were living on Third Avenue in Chula Vista.
Gustavo Rivera graduated from Bonita Vista High School in 1978 and began selling drugs with his neighborhood buddies. By 1985 he was working with one of the most powerful drug lords in Tijuana, Javier Caro-Payan, aka “El Doctor.”
In February, 1985, 8 tons of marijuana was seized at a Chula Vista house on 20 Loualta Way. Rivera had rented the home from a friend who had told Rivera not to do anything illegal at the home. In the aftermath, Rivera and Caro-Payan were indicted and arrested for the weed.
On June 6, 1987, Rivera and Caro-Payan were arrested in Montreal and on April 19, 1988, they were extradited to the US and processed in San Diego.
FCI Phoenix
Rivera was convicted in federal court for conspiracy to import marijuana and sentenced to federal prison. He served his time at the Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix, Arizona. It is here where he met a Logan Heights Gang Member, David Barron-Corona, who was serving a 5-year term for Felon in Possession of a Machine Gun. He also met Oscar Paez-Martinez in Phoenix who was serving time for a drug offense. Oscar is the brother of Arturo “Kitty” Paez-Martinez.

It is this time period between 1988 and 1990 where Rivera, Barron and “Kitty Paez” became friends and business partners. This new partnership was the start of decades of death and drug trafficking.
These three charismatic and ambitious young criminals would recruit and train hundreds of young men to be assassins for the AFO in their war against “Chapo,” “Mayo,” Guero Palma, Amado Carrillo and anyone who took their side. This association lasts to this day.
Barron and Rivera were released in 1989. They remained in San Diego but were in close communication with “Kitty” in Tijuana.

Barron and Rivera started an auto broker business, Exclusive Auto Brokers, on Silverton Court in the Mira Mesa industrial community of San Diego. They purchased and resold cars and trucks with straight cash. They also purchased large 4 by 4 trucks to smuggle tons of cocaine for “Kitty” and the Arellano-Felix Organization (AFO) into the US.

Arturo Paez-Martinez
Rivera cautioned Barron about “Kitty.” “Kitty” worked with Benjamin, Eduardo and Ramon Arellano-Felix who were known to be violent and crazy. Rivera was wary of working with a violent organization and preferred to just make millions in peace and “under the radar.”
Barron was infatuated with “Kitty” and started a close association with him and hence a close association with the violent AFO. Barron eventually fled to Tijuana as US law enforcement in San Diego was monitoring him closely and seizing cocaine loads that could eventually be traced back to him. In fact, in 1991-1992, at least three of cocaine loads between 400 and 500 kilos were seized from 4 by 4 trucks in San Diego and traced back to Exclusive Auto Brokers.

They also became quite efficient at mass-producing and distributing methamphetamine. They had their own chemists and precursor suppliers. Both Rivera and Barron families were involved in the business. Rivera was married to Carolyn and Barron was married to Judy Paraiso and the two families became friends.

Barron also worked as an enforcer for the AFO. Barron began killing AFO enemies for the AFO and was so efficient, Benjamin referred to him as Charles Bronson or “CH.”
Barron, Rivera and fellow Logan Heights Gang Member, Juan Felix, also did some side work moving marijuana and methamphetamine into San Diego from Northern Baja in private fishing boats navigated by “clean-looking” Caucasian males.
In 1991, Jose Albert Marquez, aka “Bat,” informed Barron that he (Barron) had been made a member of the Mexican Mafia Prison Gang and he was now a “Carnal” or “Brother.” “Bat” and Barron had done time together in the early 1980’s in San Quentin. Barron invited “Bat” to work with he and Rivera. “Bat” was a “free-spirit” and “loose cannon” but Barron watched over him and tried to keep him out of trouble.
Rivera, while on federal probation, was arrested in 1993, as he sold several pounds of methamphetamine to DEA Agents. Once given an opportunity to bail, he fled to Tijuana and rejoined Barron.

End of Part I

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