Saturday, March 26, 2016

Cartel godfather to be freed from U.S. prison. More to follow soon.

Posted by DD. Some material republished from My San Antonio and Houston Chronicle

With all the fragmentation of the major cartels into smaller cartels or just multiple gangs over the recent past   it is hard to keep up with who is the leader of which cartel or even how many cartels there are.  

Things could get much more complicated in the near future.  In the next 4 years,  3 'major players' and/or  founders of some of Mexico's most notorious cartels will be released from U.S. federal prisons.  How will they react with all the young Turks who now seem to running many of the cartels today.  Only time will tell.

 Jesus Hector Palma Salazar
Photo: HO, AFP/Getty Image

The first on the list to be released in the next 4 years is Palma Salazar.   He was an early leader who along with Chapo Guzman was instrumental in building the Sinaloa Cartel in the power it  became.  He is to be freed by June 2016, according to the U.S  Bureau of Prisons, as he has completed his sentence of 19 years.

It is not the first time that Palmar had served time in US prisons.    In 1978, Palma was arrested in Arizona on drug trafficking and sentenced to eight years in a U.S. prison.  He served his sentence and was sent back to Mexico where he resumed his career in drug trafficking.

As reported in the Chron, according to  Mike Vigil, a retired chief of international operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Palma's return to Mexico may have precipitated a major shift in the drug wars from a cartel policy of surgical kills when necessary to wholesale killing.  This shift was brought about by some extreme personal tragedies that he suffered after he was released from prison the first time.

The story is that while he was in prison in the US after the 1978 arrest his wife, Guadalupe, fell in love with the husband of her sister, a Venezuelan named Rafael Clavel.  Palma and Clavel had worked together trafficking drugs since they both worked for the Guadalajara Cartel. 

Clavel got Guadalupe to withdraw 7 million dollars that Salazar had stashed in a Mexican bank. 
He and Salazar's wife then fled with Salazar and Guadalupe's 2 small children.  Salazar was furious and swore revenge against Clavel .  Clavel responded by sending a least a part Palma's wife back to him.  Clavel had decapitated Guadalupe, packed her head in ice and sent it to Salazar. 

Clavel then fled to Venezuela where he threw the children, one at a time, off a high bridge.  He filmed them falling and splattering on the asphalt below and sent the tape to Salazar.

 "It devastated him," recalled Mike Vigil.  "After his kids were killed, he lost all of his morality," Vigil said of Palma-Salazar.

The death of Palma Salazar's family revealed a dramatic shift in Mexico's drug violence.
"Before it was kind of like the Italian Mafia, you don't screw with the family, " Vigil said.

 t was the first time a narco got that way with the family of another narco and Guadalupe was the first beheading, an atrocity  that is now common.

 Clavel soon afterward went to work for Gallardo in the Tijuana Cartel.   Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, the Godfather of the Guadalara Cartel, had awarded Tijuana to his nephews when he divided the plazas.  They  later formed the Tijuana Cartel (Arellano Félix Organization)

 In retaliation for what Clavel had done, Palma executed Gallardo's lawyer and Clavel's three children.  There are rumors that Salazar also killed nine members of the Arellano family.  Clavels was arrested and sent to prison before Palma got to him.  According to the official reports Clavel was killed in prison from a stab wound.  According to  rumors, Clavel was decapitated in prison on the orders of Palma Salvador. 

Palma broke his ties to Gallardo groups and sought out Chapo Guzman.  He worked along side Guzman in forming the Sinaloa Cartel.  After Guzman's arrest in Guatemala in 1993 Palma continued in a leadership role and even expanded the international operations of the Sinaloa Cartel.  By the time Palma was arrested in  1995 he had replaced Chapo as the world's most wanted drug trafficker.

He had managed to avoid arrest by paying hefty bribes where ever necessary.   Palma had managed to corrupt the Judicial Police Federal (PJF), avoiding detection, posing as an element of the Judicial Police Federal, he traveled  in a heavily armed convoy of PJF police . Plus later he discovered that he was able to avoid capture by staying in the house of the commander of the local police.

His corruption of the judicial system in Mexico and his influence was strong even after he was jailed on his current charges.  An example of his strength in the Juciary was when 18 of his men were arrested in possession of 28 "long guns", 2 hand guns, 223 clips, and 10K bullets, 12 grenade launchers, 18 hand grenades, smoke grenades and bullet proof vests.  The men were released by Judge Jose Luis Gomez Martinez, who stated that there was no evidence that they were part of any criminal organization

Vigil predicted Palma Salazar will soon be back in business.

"I don't know how much money he has now, but the fact of the matter is that this is the only business he knows," Vigil said.

Miguel Angel Caro Quintero

The next on the list to be released in the next 4 years is Miguel Angel Caro Quintero.  His release date is October 19, 2019.  Miguel Angel Caro was a member of the now dissolved Guadalajara Cartel.
Photo: Pgr, AFP/Getty Images

In 2010, Quintero was sentenced to 17 years in prison for trafficking marijuana and participating in organized crime according to CNN.

 Pleaded guilty to trafficking more than 100 tons of marijuana.  Between 1985 and 1988, when the marijuana was trafficked, Caro-Quintero made about $100 million according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

He is the younger brother of Rafael Caro Quintero.  Big brother Rafael served 28 years of a 40-year sentence for the murder of  Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) undercover agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena Salazar,  in 1985. He was released from a Mexican prison at 4:30AM on August 9, 2013 under suspicious circumstances.

A state court ruled the night before he was released (after he was impisoned for 28 years) that he had been tried improperly and ordered him released.  The court issuing the order nor the prison authorities announce his imminent release.

His release caused an uproar in government circles in the US, especially at the DEA.  The US said it had requested his requested his extradition to the US when he was released.  Mexico said the US extradition papers were not valid because they had been signed by a Deputy Chief of some department at the US Embassy in Mx. City rather than by the Ambassador as required by law so that they had no authority to hold him.  New papers were quickly redrawn and signed by the Ambassador and delivered to the Mexican govt. Under pressure by the US Mexico issued an arrest warrant but by that time Caro had disappeared.  He is currently a fugitive.

The sentences imposed do not match up to the date of release for some of the above.  The only explanation I can offer  is while some faced an excess of 19 years behind bars, good behavior serves as a crucial bargaining chip for a reduced sentence.

Juan Jose Quintero Payan,
The 3rd of the big time players scheduled for release soon is  Juan Jose Quintero Payan, known as Don Juan..  
Photo: Lisa Krantz
He is scheduled for release is April 2018.  When Amado Carrillo Fuentes founded the Juarez cartel with his brother Quintero-Payan was his second in command.

After Carrillo-Fuentes' death from plastic surgery (though many people think he faked his death), Quintero-Payan assumed a greater leadership role within the cartel.  

Don Juan will be 76 years old when he is released.  But  the retired DEA agent Mike Vigil  stressed that he is in great condition with enough life in him to return to the drug trade upon his release.

 "I was on the plane that was transporting him to the U.S.," Vigil said. "He's very sharp and cunning. This is an individual you would not want to cross paths with, he's a psychopathic killer."

During his sentencing, Payan  asked for forgiveness: “I ask for forgiveness to the society of the United States. I know I have done wrong and I accept my responsibility. 

Quintera Pavan Family Ties

 In addition to being the uncle of Miguel Caro Quintero and Rafael Caro Quintero, Quintero Payan he is also the great uncle of Sandra Ávila Beltrán  who is also known as "La Reina del Pacifico" (Queen of the Pacific). Since 2007, she has been held in a Mexican prison on charges of organized crime, money laundering and conspiracy to traffic drugs.

Although some are facing charges in Mexico upon their release and deportation, it isn't a rarity for Mexico judges to order the release of criminals on suspiciously convenient technicalities. Miguel, who will be released in 2019, is the brother of Rafael Caro Quintero — the man at the center of the most famous instance of convenient technicalities (the one released at 4:30AM).

As Mike Vigil told My San Antonio in a telephone interview, 

"They have significant knowledge of the drug trade and tremendous smuggling capabilities," Vigil said. "It won't take them long to get into the drug trade which will contribute to the movement of drugs into the U.S."

 "Now that Miguel is going to be released I guarantee you he's going to link up with his brother, the drug trade is all they know," Vigil, author of the book DEAL, said.

Despite spending more than a decade behind bars, the group remains well connected and highly respected for their role in the foundation of the drug trade. Vigil has no doubts the trio will be welcomed back into their respective trades "with welcome arms."