“Hollywood Head” Was Drug Cartel ‘Concierge’

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The decapitated head found in a plastic bag on a hiking trail in the shadow of the  Hollywood Sign four months ago belonged to a man known to local authorities as  the former “concierge” in Los Angeles for the now-defunct Cali drug cartel, the Mad Cow MorningNews has learned exclusively.

“His activities were legal; he booked hotels, limos, dinner reservations, that sort of thing,” a source inside the LAPD told us. “We didn’t consider it relevant because he was most active back in the early 90’s.”

A spokesman for the LAPD didn’t just fail to mention Medellin’s former status as a cartel employeehe actively misled reporters, concealing the brazen intrusion into American life of the signature atrocity of Mexican drug cartels by insinuating that Medellin’s beheading had been, somehow, a “gay thing.”

The disinformation was reported in hundreds of places.

Brangelina reportedly "unamused"

It was a murder mystery made for Hollywood, the top story on Entertainment Tonight, which focused on the celebrity angle: the head was found near Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Hollywood Hills mansion. 

For 48 hours police helicopters jockeyed with news-station choppers for space over the site.  The gruesome discovery made news in U.S. papers and London tabloids, and received saturation coverage around the globe.

A human head lying in the shadow of the Hollywood Sign was discovered by a dog belonging to a Hollywood publicist, a good friend of former Saturday Night Live and Bridesmaids star Maya Rudolph, who later told the story on Conan O’Brien.

It was the ultimate narco-banner. 

Yet nobody mentioned the words "drug cartel," which was curious, since that's where all the action is currently, beheading-wise. On one popular border war blog, for example, we counted 212 posts mentioning "decapitation"

When the head of Harvey Medellin, a 66-year old Mexican national, was discovered alongside a hiking trail in Los Angeles, the moment many have dreaded— when the Drug War raging in Mexico would spill over onto the streets of a major American city, arrived, and passed without recognition.

We remain the only media outlet to report (Hollywood Head Was Mex Drug Cartel Hit) the murder’s connection to drug violence in Mexico.

Dog days in Hollywood

It happened on a Tuesday, the 17th of  January, at 2.30 in the afternoon. 

Two professional dog-watchers, a mother and daughter, were running nine dogs in their charge on a hiking trail which leads up to the famous Hollywood Sign.  The neighborhood is filled with the homes of the rich and famous, like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, whose mansion is nearby.

"One of the dogs ran into the brush,” walker Lauren Kornberg told local reporters. "He was going crazy. He was digging, digging, digging…  Digging, and barking."

Ollie emerged from the bushes carrying a round plastic grocery bag in his mouth. “He trotted back with a shredded plastic bag, and then dropped it, and let it roll down the hill.”

Before the bag came to rest, something fell out. The women moved in for a closer look.

"Even as we got closer, we still couldn't say for sure whether it was … real,” Kornberg said.  “Until my mom was literally about a foot away, face to face, and could see bloody hair and eyeballs…”

“I heard her gasp. ‘It's real, oh my God, it's real.’”

Police immediately closed the park.  A search for more body parts commenced.  Late the next day a coroner’s cadaver dog named Indiana Bones found two hands and two feet.

Police got fingerprints from one of the hands. They  belonged to a missing 66-year old Hollywood resident named Hervey Medellin. 

The head was his too.

A curiously incurious LAPD detective

Hervey Medellin’s background—a Mexican national whose brother and sister both live in Laredo, Texas, a city that today is to drug traffickers what Vienna is to opera buffs— gave the story away.

There were numerous reports that Medellin had a museum quality art collection. Yet Medellin had spent 20 years as a flight attendant, not known as a particularly lucrative career. 

A phone call to the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division revealed only that “the investigation is ongoing.” 

A detective who identified himself as being assigned to the case answered a question about the frequency of decapitation in Southern California by saying he had "no clue" how many decapitations Southern California experiences annually.

 “Had Mexican drug cartels been ruled out as suspects in the beheading?” we asked.

The detective refused to discuss whether drug trafficking played any role in the murder.

We mentioned to the detective that any list of career flight attendants with museum quality art collections must be a short one. Could Hervey Medellin’s career as a flight attendant have just been his ‘cover’ for a more lucrative kind of employment?

The detective’s response was to repeat his previous no comment.   “You can report that story if you want to,” he said, “but we have nothing new to report about any aspect of the case, other than to say that we’re doing our investigation.”

Times may change. The LAPD doesn't.

Mexico's real Drug Lords always wear suits

Hervey Medellin’s boss at Mexicana Airlines was a powerful Mexican “industrialist,” Jose Serrano Segovia. On the list of 100 Richest and Most Powerful Men in Mexico, Serrano is No. 68.

However Serrano is a man with a checkered past. Serrano has been accused in published reports of using his numerous transportation companies (airlines, trucking companies, and railroads) to smuggle drugs into the United States.  

Chilean prosecutors once accused him  of being a member of the Cali Cartel, at the time the most powerful drug cartel in the world.   Serrano was more recently accused in published reports of using his numerous transportation companies (airlines, trucking companies, and railroads) to smuggle drugs into the United States. 

Moreover Serrano was a figure in the most visible drug move of the 21st century, the seizure of a St. Petersburg-based DC-9 carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine onboard which eventually led Wachovia Bank, at the time the nation’s 4th largest, to cease to exist.  The company that owned the DC9 busted with 5.5 tons of cocaine was Skyway Communications.

Sunny La Jolla exerts a strange pull

According to Skyway’s bankruptcy trustee, Skyway’s chief shareholder was Argyll Equities LLC, a dodgy private investment bank in tiny Boerne, Texas (pop. 7,500) that later moved to La Jolla, Ca., every Mobster's Shangri-La. Argyll owned nearly 21 million shares of SkyWay stock that is today totally worthless.

This was something of a black eye, investment-wise, unless there were other considerations involved.

Argyll was in the business of providing “creative financial solutions globally.” According to documents filed with the SEC, Argyll  arranged for Mexican businessman Jose Serrano Segovia to get a $17 million “loan.”  

Serrano then turned around and provided  a “creative financial solution” of his own, to “Chilean narcotics trafficker Manuel Losada, who is linked to both the Cali and Juarez Cartel,” according to The Santiago Times, an English language newspaper in Chile.

When Losada was arrested in the Chilean capital of Santiago, the paper reported, “he was linked to a shipment of five tons of cocaine, which U.S. drug enforcement officials in Miami intercepted on the vessel Harbour, as it headed toward Guantanamo Bay.”

An aquatic interlude during which the crew abandons ship

It was Jan. 5, 1992. A U.S. Coast Guard cutter was slicing through the Windward Passage, the sweep of warm blue Caribbean Sea separating Cuba from Haiti.

The Coast Guard cutter, the Campbell, was looking for the MV Harbour, a Chilean freighter steaming for Baltimore under a Panamanian flag carrying a cargo of zinc.  

When the Harbour sailed to Chile from Peru, it was known as the Golden Hill, the Coast Guard learns. Then it was re-registered and renamed The Harbour by a Chilean company, headed by a Chilean shipping magnate named Manuel Losada. 

It was close to midnight when the Harbour heaved into view. The Coast Guard cutter radioed for permission to board. Drug agents suspected a shipment of cocaine was aboard. They were right.

The Harbour doused its lights, and radioed back, “We’re on fire and sinking.”

The crew was abandoning ship, while trying to scuttle the Harbour.

Coast Guard crewmen scrambled aboard and put out a fire they had started in the engine room. There was three feet of water below decks. Another few minutes and the ship would have gone down. They stopped the flooding, and begin to dig through the zinc, where they found 5 tons of cocaine.

At the time it was the Coast Guard's third-largest cocaine seizure in history.

“Mexican newspaper El Universal de Mexico connected Losada to the Juarez Cartel of Mexico, referring to him as the Chilean narcotics trafficker, in September 1997,” the paper reported.

Both Losada and Jose Serrano denied any connections to the Juarez Cartel, which seems to have fallen from official favor in recent years. Curiously, this is the same cartel Allen Stanford was suspected of working with to launder hundreds of millions in drug money.

The LAPD announced a 100-person crime team of detectives, criminologists and search & rescue specialists were investigating the severed head. 

Four months later, they have no comment on any progress they’ve made in the case.

The border war cover-up in the Hollywood Hills  increases suspicion that stories of violence in Mexico spilling over into the U.S. are being covered-up by America’s political and media elite.

At the intersection between Mexican drug cartel violence and the Corporatization of the Drug Trade lies the Hollywood Head.


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Daniel Hopsicker

Daniel Hopsicker is an investigative journalist and the author of two books on transnational crime, Welcome to Terrorland and Barry & the Boys.

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3 Responses

  1. Thane Cesar says:

    head and shoulders above mainstream media coverage.

  2. Don Jesus says:

    I agree. Daniel you really personify the concept of “too-real news”. If only your news were about investing i’d be a millionare. I guess we’ll give to Caesar what’s his.

  3. RAndy says:

    WAR.  If the US wanted war ( which is exactly what DC always wants ), then they should have invaded Mexico.  There is no more worthless government on Earth than Mexico.  It is corrupt, putrid and reeking.  There is the 0.005% of the population OWNING all the rest. It stinks.  Just like Washington DC.