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A cat who until recently belonged to a notorious cartel boss now has a perfectly normal home in Texas after spending the first three years of his life in the notorious CERESO 3 prison in Juarez, Mexico.
The unnamed feline is a hairless Egyptian who was the personal pet of Ernesto Alfredo Piñon de la Cruz, aka “El Nato,” the former leader of the Sinaloa cartel-aligned Los Mexicles gang. Cruz, who lived in a “luxury cell” at CERESO like other drug lords incarcerated there, had the kitty tattooed with a skull flag and the phrase “Hecho en Mexico,” or “Made in Mexico,” a slogan of Los Mexicles.
Cruz and dozens of fellow inmates instigated a riot at CERESO 3 on Jan. 1, leading to the death of 10 prison guards and seven inmates, and the escape of 30 more. He died along with several others in a shoot-out with Mexican authorities three days later and the rest were apprehended.
When Juarez’s governor ordered a thorough sweep of the prison — in which the inmates had become the de facto wardens and guards had lost control of the cell blocks — armed police squads found the forgotten feline, along with thousands of illegal amenities like couches, plasma TVs, video game consoles, air conditioners, heaters, personal laundry machines and even a mechanical bull.
A council of authorities and animal welfare officials from Juarez whittled applications to adopt the cat down to 10 finalists and decided to go with an American adopter in Texas who already has one Egyptian, is well versed in their care, and can offer the tattooed cat a stable environment.
They haven’t identified the adopter, which is probably for the best in a situation where even the police often wear masks to conceal their identities when conducting operations against cartel targets, for fear of retribution if they’re identified.
As the Washington Post notes, stories of “status” animals are common with cartels. In Colombia, hippos acquired decades ago by notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar for his private zoo were allowed to roam free, multiplying to more than 130 today and causing problems in the areas they frequent. And in the summer of 2022, police in a shootout with gangsters killed a member of the notorious La Familia Michoacana cartel along with his pet spider monkey, who wore a tactical vest and a custom camouflage jacket. A Bengal tiger, also illegally acquired by the cartel, was unintentionally set loose in the chaos during the same raid, but was not killed.
Cat in the bag
TSA found another pet cat in the luggage of a traveler, this time at Norfolk Airport in Virginia on the morning of Friday, March 3.
This time the cat’s caretaker did intend to travel with their pet but forgot to take the little one out before putting luggage through an X-ray machine. TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein, who regularly works puns into her announcements about cats found in luggage, had fun with the discovery while also reminding people it’s not a good idea to send pets through X-ray scanners.
“Attention pet owners: Please do not send your pet through the X-ray unit. Cat-astrophic mistake!” Farbstein tweeted Friday.
Although the cat seems unharmed and the TSA said there’s likely no damage caused by a single trip through the machine, Farbstein said passengers should still be careful.
“The passenger needs to remove the pet from a carry case and carry it through the walk-through metal detector or walk the pet through the metal detector on a leash,” she told CNN. “This is typical of how people travel with small dogs. In the case of a cat, if there is no leash, we strongly recommend that the passenger requests screening in a private screening room” to prevent the cat from freaking out and getting loose in the airport.
What’s your favorite thing about your cat(s)?
Buddy has free reign when it comes to 95 percent of the home and the only times I stop him from doing something are when he might hurt himself, such as trying to steal a piece of food that’ll make him sick or chewing electrical wires.
Thankfully he gives himself away when he’s about to do something he knows he shouldn’t do, making a hilarious vocalization — a trill that sounds like “Hmmm I know I’m not supposed to be doing this, but…” He’s done it since he was a kitten, when he still didn’t get the concept of a litter box and would crap under my bed. (It took almost two weeks, an adjustment in the placement of the litter box, and finally a switch to Dr. Elsey’s Kitten Attract litter before the lightbulb went off in his little head and he got it.)
Years later he still makes the same sound, but when I move to intervene, he immediately flops onto his side and splays his limbs out, a move that says “Hah! I wasn’t gonna do what you thought I was gonna do, and you can’t pick me up!”
He did it to me three times last night and my attempt to dissuade him in a Serious Voice failed spectacularly when I saw Bud flash his “I’m Just An Innocent Widdle Kitty” face at me and broke down laughing.
One of my favorite things about Bud is how he makes me laugh with his antics. The little dude is clever.
What are your favorite things about your cats?