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Notes on 'El Chuta', Fugitive Zetas Founder

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“Kraphtous” for Borderland Beat

This article includes notes from “Kraphtous” and Borderland Beat contributor “MX” on Jorge López Pérez (“El Chuta”), founding member of Los Zetas. 

Picture of El Chuta, as shared by Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) in 2003

We don’t know his real name. The name listed on records is Jorge Lopez Perez, an incredibly generic name. It has been suggested that this is a fake name, with various theories to the real identity of El Chuta. The strongest theory states that El Chuta is possibly Proceso Arturo Muro Gonzalez, a fugitive Zeta sanctioned under the Kingpin Act in 2010. Muro Gonzalez shares certain facial features with the photograph identified as El Chuta. El Chuta was an expert in martial arts, and there is photographic evidence of Muro Gonzalez having run a martial arts school at some point.

We have absolutely zero information about El Chuta’s DOB or POB. According to general info, El Chuta’s real name is Jorge Lopez Perez. He joined the Mexican Army on October 1, 1979, during the dirty war. He was a highly trained elite paratrooper part of the Brigada de Fusileros Paracaidista (Brigade of Paratrooper Riflemen) stationed at the Santa Lucia military base in the State of Mexico. Here, he developed advanced skills in martial arts, parachuting, explosives, and guerrilla warfare. His nickname, Chuta, is derived from the word “parachute”, alluding to the fact that he was a paratrooper. Given this background, it is possible he manipulated the information about him, and changed his name at some point.

In roughly 2 years, on September 17, 1981, the promising paratrooper deserted his post. This was roughly 17-18 years before the majority of the Zetas deserted in 1998-1999. He joined the Guadalajara Cartel under Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo. After the breakup of Felix Gallardo’s organization, he continued to work with the Juarez Cartel. He was assigned to take part in trafficking operations in Cancun, and the whole state of Quintana Roo under a man known as Alcides Ramon Magana.

Many years later, in June 2001, Magana was captured. El Chuta’s associate, Beto Meraz contacted him with an offer to work for the biggest drug lord in Mexico, Osiel Cardenas Guillen, leader of the Gulf Cartel. El Chuta refused, and instead took up operations as an independent trafficker in Veracruz, paying toll and using other’s plazas to move his own weight. Soon, in 2002, Beto Meraz was captured, and Chuta had to lie low. He moved to Yucatan where he worked with some Colombians. After this he was temporarily hired by Los Zetas’s Z-2 to train their new recruits. Once the Mexican Army learned, they intensified their efforts to capture El Chuta. Because of this, El Chuta had to flee to Tamaulipas in early 2003.

Comandante Kelin (Z-2) contacted Chuta upon his arrival in Tamaulipas; Los Zetas wanted him permanently. This was because of his elite background in the paratroopers. El Chuta, with nothing to lose, accepted the job offer, and joined Los Zetas, where he reunited with some old friends from the Army.

March 2003. Osiel Cardenas, leader of the Gulf Cartel, was captured. Joaquin Guzman became the most powerful narco in Mexico. The Attorney General’s office released Chuta’s photograph and identified him as a high ranking leader in Los Zetas. A military court convicted him, in absentia, of high treason. This was because he had deserted his post to join organized crime.

Some point in 2004, El Chuta was appointed to lead Los Zetas’s drug trafficking in Quintana Roo, due to him knowing the area well, as he worked in Quintana Roo for the Juarez Cartel some years prior to this. El Chuta quickly started coordinating international drug shipments in Quintana Roo. This was done in the Riviera Maya area in Quintana Roo, an area that allowed Los Zetas to receive shipments of drugs from South America. These drugs were then stored in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

5 years later, in 2009, Mexican authorities listed El Chuta as a regional leader in the state of Coahuila, and one of the original Zetas that remained. Apparently, Chuta had been called back from Quintana Roo, as the war between Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel was raging. Heriberto Lazcano (Z-3), top boss of Los Zetas, had appointed Chuta as plaza boss in Coahuila.

As the war started to turn in favor of the Sinaloa Cartel, in 2012, El Chuta was again called back by Heriberto Lazcano and appointed to lead Los Zetas’s war in the state of Nuevo Leon. Chuta was reporting directly to Lazcano at this point. Intelligence reports indicated that El Chuta was highly loyal to Lazcano, even as Miguel Trevino Morales, Z-40, gradually took control of Los Zetas. This was likely because Chuta and Lazcano were both ex-special forces, and Chuta may have looked down upon Z-40, who was a car washer (?) before joining Los Zetas.

October 7, 2012. Heriberto Lazcano was killed by the Mexican Navy in Saltillo, Coahuila. El Chuta disappeared off the face of the earth.

There are several theories as to where he may be today. The first states that he spends most of his time travelling between Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, and Cancun, Quintana Roo, as well as staying for long periods of time in Algeria with his money, as Algeria does not have an extradition treaty with either Mexico or the United States. Another theory and perhaps the more believable one states that he has Italian citizenship through ancestry, and so El Chuta was Los Zetas’s envoy at some point to the ‘Ndrangheta, an Italian criminal organization, because of which, he is now hiding out in Italy with his drug fortune. The latter is supported by the rumors that other founding Zetas like El Vera are hiding out in Europe too.

This September 17 will mark 40 years since he deserted the paratroopers to join organized crime. In those 40 years, El Chuta has never been arrested. He remains a fugitive.

Sources: Borderland Beat (2019); Anonymous sources

NoteThis article includes information from the Wikipedia page of Jorge López Perez (“El Chuta”), which was published by Borderland Beat contributor “MX” in December 2019. It includes over 25 sources.


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