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Fugitives, Imprisoned, or Dying: Where Are These Old-School Narcos?

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“MX” for Borderland Beat

Where are these old-school narcos? (photo credit: Infobae)

The potential future release of the infamous drug trafficker Jesús Héctor “El Güero” Palma Salazar opened the door to old ghosts in Mexico’s criminal underworld: a generation of drug traffickers in clear retreat for reasons of age or weight of the law.

This group of criminals survived the violent drug war but ended up with different fates. In the case of El Guero Palma, co-founder of the Sinaloa Cartel, the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) is actively investigating him for additional charges, following his recent release and re-arrest.

With this, the Mexican government is trying to not make the same mistake as with other drug traffickers who have been freed and today remain fugitives from justice.

Jesus Hector Palma Salazar, alias El Guero. Co-founder of the Sinaloa Cartel. He is 80 years old and is under preventative arrest for 40 days.

Palma Salazar left the Altiplano prison at dawn on Tuesday, after a judge acquitted him of the organized crime charges against him. However, a few steps away from the jail gate, he was re-apprehended by the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime Investigation (SEIDO) for additional charges.

This Wednesday, through a statement, the FGR announced that the capo will not be released for at least 40 days more days while they have him under preventative arrest (arraigo) before his court hearing.

Once allied with Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, El Güero Palma, 80, created his own criminal group known as the Pacific Cartel or Sinaloa Cartel. He began a series of revenges against the Arellano Félix brothers and supported El Chapo in the differences that he had with the clan.

He was captured in 1995, in Zapopan, Jalisco, hours after an aircraft he was flying in had technical difficulties.

Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. He is 73 years old and is a fugitive of the US and Mexican government.

Legend has it that this old drug lord, currently the most important leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, lives in the mountains of the Golden Triangle in Mexico. His arrest has become a priority objective of Mexican and US authorities, but they have not succeeded.

On the drug trafficking map, the name of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada is increasingly important. The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers him one the most powerful capos in Mexico; however, despite this notoriety, his whereabouts remain hidden.

Rafael Caro Quintero, founder of the Guadalajara Cartel. He is 68 years old and is wanted by authorities. He is currently the head of the Caborca Cartel.

The legendary drug kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero, who spent 28 years in prison, has taken up arms again. This capo has taken advantage of the fall of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, to dispute the territory of the Sinaloa Cartel. His presence can be felt in Sonora, where he has a heated dispute with Los Chapitos, the faction headed by El Chapo’s children, and their armed wing Los Salazar.

Caro Quintero comes from a criminal era where the Mexican cartels established ties with large South American organizations, mainly Colombian.

According to his story, the cultivation of marijuana led him to the underworld and to former police officer Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, the Boss of Bosses, who opened him the door to the world of drug trafficking.

As a founding member of the now-extinct Guadalajara Cartel, Caro Quintero was accused of torturing and assassinating the DEA agent, Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, in 1985. Since then, US authorities have been trying to have Caro Quintero extradited to the US to face these murder charges.

Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, alias “El Chapo”, founding member of the Sinaloa Cartel. He is serving life imprisonment in ADX Florence (Colorado, USA) and is currently 64 years old.

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the notorious former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, will spend the rest of his life in a maximum-security prison in the US.

In July 2019, US federal judge Brian Cogan sentenced him to life imprisonment plus 30 years on drug-related charges. 

For more than 30 years, El Chapo was head of the Sinaloa Cartel. He was arrested three times, two of which he was able to escape from prison. The last arrest occurred in 2016. US authorities say that he made up to US$12.7 billion in drug proceeds.

Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, the Jefe de Jefes (Boss of Bosses). He is currently 76 years old and imprisoned in Puente Grande, Jalisco.

Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo was called  the “Boss of Bosses” in the 1980s. Having founded the Guadalajara Cartel—the first overarching cartel in Mexico—led him to become part of Mexico’s criminal history.

More than 30 years ago, Félix Gallardo had under his command drug traffickers such as Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera; Amado Carrillo Fuentes, “The Lord of the Skies”; Héctor Luis “El Güero” Palma Salazar, and the Arellano Félix brothers from Tijuana.

However, the life of this drug lord is far from what it is today.

Arrested in 1989, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison for drug trafficking and bribery. Just in 2017, he was sentenced to 37 years for the murder DEA agent Enrique Camarena Salazar and the Mexican pilot Alfredo Zavala Avelar.

At 76, he is almost blind, deaf, and disabled. Authorities have refused to allow him to serve the remainder of his sentence in house arrest. He will leave prison when he reaches 110 years of age, if he ever gets there.

Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, alias “Don Neto”. He is 90 years old and is serving the remainder of his prison sentence in house arrest. He lives in Atizapan de Zaragoza, State of Mexico (Edomex).

On July 20, 2016, a then 86-year-old man was transferred in an ambulance from the Puente Grande prison (Jalisco) to the Guadalajara International Airport. The images of him contrasted with that of the charismatic and humorous man who 30 years earlier made headlines for leading one of Mexico’s largest cartels.

Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, Don Neto, was born in Badiraguato, Sinaloa, on August 1, 1930. He is the uncle of drug traffickers Amado Carrillo Fuentes and Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, alias “El Viceroy”. Together with Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and Rafael Caro Quintero, he founded the Guadalajara Cartel in the 1980s.

Don Neto provided the Guadalajara Cartel with experience in how drugs were to be smuggled, in addition to strategizing plans for the cartel’s growth.

On April 7, 1985, Don Neto and his security circle were located by the Army in Puerto Vallarta, where he was surrounded and detained. Don Neto, along with Caro Quintero, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the murder and kidnapping of Camarena and Zavala.

After spending 30 years in prison, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) granted him the opportunity to complete the rest of his sentence in house arrest. He currently lives in a luxurious residential area in Atizapán de Zaragoza, State of Mexico.

Source: Infobae Mexico


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