Sinaloa Cartel: Crime Syndicate that Shocked Mexico's Peace

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As the years progress, the corruption in Mexico increases drastically. Civilians and the government have helped this corruption rise because standing up to them means death row. Hundreds of innocent lives have been taken, for their opposition to stand by and watch these men take away the innocence and purity this land once had. Imagine this, a 12 year old is walking her little brother to school. Just a few blocks away and they would have made it, but just a few seconds before, a black car had parked on the side of the road. Men with guns and walkie-talkies start filing out when a red car speeds by and bullets start flying. These men are now firing back at one another, and the little girl rushes to hide her brother, but in one motion, a bullet strikes the younger brother. An innocent life whose blood now sweeps into the soil along with a thousand others have faced the same fate. Now who do we ask for help? How do we find justice? We can’t. Our government is bought by these cartels.

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In the early 80’s one of the largest cartels arose from the city of Sinaloa. It’s mainly operated in the city of Culiacan, and has territory in 17 other states within the country. Their criminals activities include: money laundering, weapon and drug trafficking, briberies, and crucial murders. In today’s world, this drug organization proceeds to pattern an established procedure of bulking shipments of cocaine through airplane and boats to Mexico, Central America and the states.

The beginning of this corrupted industry was when Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo partnered with a union of other cartels to grow marijuana business. He’s two main partners where known as Rafael Caro Quintero, and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo. These three individuals were able to buy police officials, banks, politicians and anything with high power in order to be protected. These men had the potential to travel around Guadalajara, with numerous amount of an armed squad of guards with automatic weapons and suitcases full of money, and bought whatever caught their attention. These people lived like rulers of the country. Nothing was going to stop these drug lords, for they had built an empire worth millions.

Felix Gallardo, was born on January 8th 1946 in Culiacan, Mexico. In his early teenage years he completed his high school and attended college to major in business. Once he graduated from college he went to work as Federal Judicial police agent. Meanwhile he was also a bodyguard for the governor, Leopido Sanchez. Despite, Gallardo being involved in the smuggling business, Sanchez employed him. But with Sanchez’ protection, he soon gravitated towards the business after Aviles, former narco lord, was shot. He took over everything, and constructed the idea of establishing each plaza, with their own narco. Gallardo, monopolized almost all of Mexico’s drug trafficking. He was known, as “El Padrino” and “El Jefe de Jefes.” Gallardo was a brainer and knew how to interpret his business perfectly well. Once he saw, that he was becoming successful, he then partnered ship with the cartels from Colombia, and transferred their cocaine through Tijuana. Gallardo’s mindset was being able to primarily “distribute drugs rather than producing them.” (Vuliamy. Guardian )According to the Guardian, they even described him as the “Bill Gates of Cocaine.” Gallardo was unfulfilled with his business in Marijuana. Nothing satisfied his hunger for money and power, thus his business expanded to cocaine. Gallardo was respected in many levels, even adored. Other drugs lords where even jealous of his integrity. Gallardo formed the Guadalajara Cartel. Gallardo was arrested in Mexico on April 8, 1989, and is currently imprisoned. A major factor for his arrest was the interference with the murder of a DEA agent Enrique Camarena. Gallardo was sentenced to 37 years in the Altiplano Prison which is a maximum security prison. (Fun Fact: El Chapo managed to escape from here.)

Another important leader from this Cartel was a man who was selfless. Rafael Caro Quintero. He came from a background that was surrounded of drug smugglers. Quintero was born on October 3, 1952 in Badiraguato, Mexico. A city where a well-known drug lord was born, el Chapo Guzman. He resided in a home of 12 siblings, and was the eldest of them. At a young age, his father was killed through a drug dispute. In order to perceive money to support his family he started growing a special type of marijuana, sinsemilla. Quintero was known for many reasons. One being a “narco enamorado” meaning he loved women. He migrated to Guadalajara, after the federal government made a mission to burn out his crops in Sinaloa. This operation was called “Operation Condor.” Farmers who grew the crops were actually jailed rather than those traffickers who bought the harvest. However, out of the three men, Caro had more of a public life then the three. He was one of the first to be in love out in public. As a matter of fact, he explained to Playboy Magazine that he was a womanizer. He stated, “I always live in love. I love them all because I was born of a woman.” He had a huge diversity of negotiations. He was and is still considered to be one of the greatest legends that gave the primary rise to the cartels in Mexico. Quintero built an empire that made most of the profit. He is also known as “El Narco de Narcos.” His world slowly collapsed when he was involved in the murder of a DEA agent, Kiki Camarena and after Mexican authorities raided his Buffalo Ranch, which was a marijuana farm in Chihuahua. The whole plantation cost him about $2.5 billion to $5 billion in the sales of the drugs. In an interview, Caro Quintero even stated that once his ranch was destroyed, that’s when he know he didn’t want to be involved in the drug trafficking world. Because of this, he was becoming paranoid and consuming large amount of cocaine. It was said that he even mistook two Americans. Los Angeles times wrote an article where on the evening of Jan 30, these men went out to eat at a restaurant called La Langosta where Rafa was hosting a private party.

Walker was a Vietnam veteran who was a journalist writing a book about the Mexican Mafia, and Radlat was a dental college student. When they tried to leave they were approached by Rafa’s bodyguards. Once they were stopped, the two men were taken to two separate rooms in which they were brutally tortured with knives and ice picks for a couple hours. Investigators believed that Walker died from torture and the student was shot to death. Then, a month later Camarena was kidnaped.

Caro Quintero went to Costa Rica to disappear and was caught in his mission on April 4,1985. He served 40 years, and was released from prison. After his release Americans were madly furious. As of today he’s still wanted by American authorities. . In an interview, he stated “Hunted by Mexican and American authorities, He never sleeps in the same spot twice, according to his guards. His bed is a sleeping bag, his roof the canvas of a tent. During the day, he haunts the mountains like a ghost, his head perpetually craned toward the sky, scanning for the drones that search the impassable mountains for signs of life.” He says he wants to be in peace and has given up trafficking. He also assures the public stating, “I didn’t organize, kidnap or kill Mr. Camarena...I was in the wrong place.” (no author. Reuters) In April of 2018, FBI authorities believe he is still active today and are awarding 20 million dollars for his whereabouts. (Most Wanted. FBI) Rafael Caro has yet to be seen since he release.

Don Neto, also known as Ernesto Fonseca Carillo was born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Sinaloa. Before he joined the new gang with Felix Gallardo and Caro Quintero, Don Neto had prior experiences working in Ecuador. (Basotia. Meaww) He accompanied Felix on a mission to unite all the Mexican smugglers together, after the raid in which the Mexican officials raided Sinaloa. Fonseca played a mentor role, where he introduced all these drug lords to Felix. Overtime, he was able to purchase an entire police force, and agreed to help Felix with his plan to shift the use of cocaine. On April 7, 1985, Fonseca was arrested, and sentenced to 40 years for the kidnapping and homicide of Camarena and his pilot. In 2016, he was set under house arrest to health complications. And on March 31, 2017, he was released on probation, and had the ability to leave his home without an ankle bracelet. Fonseca is currently living in Atizapán de Zaragoza. (Unknown. The Guardian)

Now who is Agent Camarena? He was an undercover agent for the Guadalajara Cartel. He was born on July 26, 1947 in Mexicali, Mexico. He graduated high school in California and later served the Marine Corps. Kiki, was a very dedicated man to help and serve his country. After serving the Marine Corps, he become a fireman, police officer, and Deputy Sheriff. Camarena stepped up his career to work as a DEA where he encountered a lot of dangers. Kiki worked in Mexico for four years, and before being able to expose the three drug lord’s empire and crimes, he was kidnapped in broad daylight. On, February 7, 1985 Kiki, was on his way to eat lunch with his wife until a couple of man surrounded him and threw him forcefully in a car. He was taken to a place where investigators have yet to figure out, where he was tortured for several days. According to Abel Reynoso, who was an DEA agent and part of the “Operation Leyenda” stated that Kiki was revived survival times by a medical doctor, and afterwards was murdered. During this time process, Kiki’s pilot was also picked up, tortured and killed. Camarena was tortured from a 30 hour time period. His body was later found on the outside area in the state of Michoacán. He was wrapped in a plastic bag. (no author. DEA)

Kiki and the other two men who were killed by Rafa’s men were transferred by the same gunmen. The gunmen, who hid out in California, their initial thoughts were to bury Kiki’s body and leave it. You see, when the other two American men were killed in that restaurant, the government made no noise. There were no headlines of the disappearances on television, nor did they make the headlines on newspapers. They were labeled as nobodies. So when the opportunity arrived, and Kiki was alone, they took him as well hoping for the same results but they were wrong. DEA agents flew down to Mexico after news of Kiki’s disappearances. During the investigations, once Kiki’s and his pilot’s bodies were found, they connected the dots with the other two men’s murders.

I fully believe Kiki’s death could have been prevented. Kiki and his partners shared information on what was going on in Guadalajara, MX to the CIA here in the states. (No author. El Pais) In more than one opportunity, they were so close to catching these three men, but information was filtered from the U.S embassy in the hands to these drug lords. Kiki and his men pleaded for help, showed both governments proof of what was going on in Mexican soil, but were denied help and these drug lords knew DEA was now investigating them. Methods of torture and fear are installed in Mexican communities to proof to anyone to stay out of their business.

In conclusion, I firmly believe Rafael Caro Quintero, Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, Ernesto Fonseca Carillo, are the leaders of the Guadalajara Cartel, leading into what is now known as the Sinaloa Cartel. One of the first cartels making a footprint for other drug lords into the making. These three men made millions of dollars, bought the government off, and lived as kings for many years until Kiki and his partners tried to stop them. Kiki Camarena was killed for his courage and denial to stay silent as he watched innocent lives taken and money become the root of all evil. He said no to corruption, was never bought, and is an example of what fighting for justice meant. Kiki Camarena lost his life but his legacy lives on. Red Ribbon Week was made in remembrance of Camarena to bring awareness of drugs. Corruption in Mexico, cartels, all fight across the land resulting in the death of these innocent lives. But men like Kiki still exist and someday, Mexico will once be the land of peace, the land of love and communion, and all these sorrows will be remembered to be learned from.  

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