Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, April 11, 2022

7 Hitmen Working For RCQ's Nephew, José Gil, Arrested in Oaxaca

"HEARST" for Borderland Beat 

It was recently announced that seven Caborca Cartel members who were working for Rafael Caro Quintero’s relative, El Pelo Chino, had been arrested in the state of Oaxaca.

The Announcement

On April 7, 2022, during the morning presidential press conference, Rosa Icela Rodríguez, the federal Secretary of Security, presented a list of 77 criminals that had been recently arrested as a part of the Zero Impunity policy.  

Rosa Icela Rodríguez during the morning conference on April 7, 2022. 

She said “In the case of Pinotepa Nacional [city], Oaxaca, on March 29, the prosecutor's office and the Secretary of National Defense arrested seven operators of José Gil alias 'El Chino Quintero'. He is the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel in Oaxaca and the Costa Chica de Guerrero. They were placed at the disposal of the Attorney General of the Republic and have been charged with crimes of smuggling, drugs, organized crime and carrying weapons for the exclusive use of the military. These are part, as I said, of the Sinaloa cartel.”

With this statement, Secretary Icela Rodríguez is believed to be referring to the March 2022 arrest of seven alleged cartel members in the municipality of Santiago Pinotepa Nacional. The men were arrested after they allegedly opened fire on agents Fuerza Especial de Reacción Inmediata (FERI)  as they were executing a search warrant on a home. In response, the FERI agents repelled the attack and requested backup from the Army (SEDENA), the National Guard and the State Police. 

Photos of the March 29, 2022 encounter that led to their arrest.

When backup arrived, more gun battles ensued which ultimately resulted in seven of the attackers being arrested. Three of the seven were found to have been wounded during the shootouts and were taken for medical treatment.  The seven detained have been identified as Silver Idael "N", Edgardo "N", Edgar Fortino "N", Felipe "N", Bruno "N", Carlos "N", and Iván de Jesús "N".

It is important to note that despite the secretary’s repeated claims that their boss José Gil Caro Quintero, alias “El Pelo Chino”, is a part of the Sinaloa Cartel (Cartel de Sinaloa, CDS), he is actually believed to be a part of the Caborca Cartel. 

Admittedly, the Caborca Cartel is alleged to be in an alliance with a subgroup of CDS which is led by Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela, alias “El Gigio”, however the Caborca Cartel is still believed to be an entirely separate organization from CDS. 

How do we know José Gil is Caborca Cartel and not Sinaloa Cartel? 

Well, multiple news outlets have cited El Pelo Chino as working for the Caborca Cartel in recent years. For example, in November 2020, the newspaper Diario Cambio 22 wrote that “José Gil Caro Quintero, nephew of Rafael Caro Quintero, heads a criminal cell of the Caborca Cartel that disputes territory with the Chapitos and is in charge of drug trafficking by air and sea,” (as archived by El Cuarto Poder). 

The July 2021 banner.

Furthermore, the authors of recent narco banners cite El Pelo Chino as a Caborca Cartel member. In July 2021, a narco banner placed in Sonora, that was addressed to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, named José Gil as one of those responsible for the recent violence alongside the names of Rafael Caro Quintero, Rodrigo Paez Quintero, Ramón Quintero Páez (all Caborca Cartel), Leonardo López and El Gigio (Caborca Cartel allies). 

December 2021 banner.

In December 2021, El Pelo Chino was named in a narco banner alongside the names of Caborca Cartel leadership figures like Rafael Caro Quintero, Juan Pablo Quintero Navidad, Rodrigo Páez, Francisco Javier Espinoza Camacho, and Roy Antonio Soto Quintero.

The Criminal History of El Pelo Chino

According to Reforma newspaper, El Pelo Chino was born on February 7, 1968 in the town of Badiraguato, in Sinaloa. This would make El Pelo Chino 54 years old in the year 2022. He is the son of Eulogia Quintero Payán and a 2005 Reforma article, as well as a August 2016 Zeta article, claim that El Pelo Chino is the nephew of Rafael Caro Quintero.  

When he was 26 years old, El Pelo Chino participated in an attempt to rescue his uncle Leonel Payán Rodríguez from police custody. At the time, Payán Rodríguez was recovering, while under the watchful eye of law enforcement, in Hospital del Carmen in Guadalajara after he was injured in an earlier shootout. 

The rescue attempt also involved Ricardo Payán Rodríguez, Graciano Quintero Páez, Ricardo Zazueta Manjarrez, Eduardo Ávila González and Rolando Avendaño Cano, who is a former PGR agent. The rescue ultimately proved unsuccessful and El Pelo Chino was arrested by Army soldiers on June 7, 1994. 

In an August 2003 article, Reforma wrote that “sometime later, he obtained his freedom and, according to informants, he is now Ismael Zambada's trusted man and a liaison with Sandra Ávila Beltrán, who is considered to be one of the criminal group's money launderers. Jose Gil's movements in the last two years have been primarily within Guadalajara.”

It is during this period of time that he is believed to have been the leader of a drug trafficking cell called "Los Norteños", whose operations were primarily in the states of Jalisco, Veracruz and Morelos.

Early into his criminal career,  El Pelo Chino proved he was able to corrupt law enforcement officials into working for him. As an example of this, in April 2003, it was discovered that El Pelo Chino had moles in the PGR when the PGR agent Eduardo Santos Acosta Michel was arrested by US Customs while he was attempting to cross the border at Nogales, Arizona.  

On May 10, 2003, El Pelo Chino was arrested by police officers in Cuernavaca, Morelos, while he was driving a black armored Mercedes Benz SC 600 with his friend Heriberto Villa Serrano and his girlfriend Yuli Quevedo Monzón onboard. He reportedly gave the officers the fake name José Belém Mendoza when asked. 

A Ministerial Police officer later described what happened during the time of the arrest in an anonymous letter. He says Pelo Chino “took out his cell phone, making a call to the commander of the State Ministerial Police, Gamaliel Montes de Oca, to whom he said ‘Hello there, Gamaliel. Let what's his name know we're already here. We've been detained, he needs to move. He already knows who I am. He needs to hurry though cause the main boss is here with us.”

Then a series of calls were made to higher ups at the Agencia Federal de Investigación (AFI) and the Ministerial Police. Eventually the secretary of Public Security for the state, Sebastián Isunza Gutiérrez arrived on scene and ordered all the police officers to withdraw far away from the detainees, so that only he and two police commanders could talk with the detainees. However all the political pressure El Pelo Chino employed ultimately only bought him some time but it could not delay the inevitable and he was imprisoned in the Atlacholoaya prison on May 12, 2003. 

Shortly after, El Pelo Chino was brought before a judge and he paid 480,000 pesos in bail money so that he and both of his companions could walk free until the time of their criminal trial. 

Bail was only allowed by the judge on the condition that AFI agents keep him under strict surveillance. A total of 14 agents plus an additional number of undercover military soldiers were assigned to watch El Pelo Chino and ensure he did not leave the city. Pelo Chino and his girlfriend reportedly rented a room at the Girasoles Hotel after they left court, where agents watched him closely.

Two days later, on May 14, agents told their commander that they had somehow lost track of El Pelo Chino and he had managed to flee the city by boarding a cab in front of the hotel. Reforma newspaper chose to write that he "escaped" in pointed quotation marks when the news broke. 

From then on El Pelo Chino laid low until the fateful day of December 27, 2004. On that day, Guadalajara police officers were dispatched due to the request of a local bank manager who spotted a number of armed men hanging out near the branch he managed, located in the Fraccionamiento Monraz area. The manager was concerned that the armed men were preparing to rob the bank so he requested officers come to the area as a precautionary measure. 

When officers arrived they also found the armed men, who were seen loitering on the sidewalk, to be suspicious characters and they approached the men, insisting that they submit to a search. The officers found a number of pistols on them and they were all brought back to the station for further questioning. 

What the officers didn’t realize is they had just unwittingly arrested the narco-fugitive El Pelo Chino and three of his bodyguards. The four men were in the area of the bank -not to rob it- but simply because they were waiting for El Pelo Chino’s business partner (and now-girlfriend) Sandra Ávila Beltrán while she got hair done inside a beauty salon nearby. 

Pelo Chino tried giving a fake name to the officers as he was being booked, claiming he was Jose Luis Reyes Hernandez, however his fingerprints were run through the PGR system and his real identity was discovered. Because he had skipped out on his criminal trial in Morelos, there was a warrant out for his arrest and El Pelo Chino was sent to Mexico City in order to answer to the Attorney General’s Office. 

On March 29, 2005, Pelo Chino was taken to the PGR’s hangar at the Mexico City airport and boarded onto a plane that took him to the Jalisco prison known as Puente Grande. The long judicial process of his trial began and in May 2008, the trial concluded and Pelo Chino was officially sentenced to serve 10 years in prison.

In 2008, the PGR claimed that Pelo Chino was still directing his criminal organization from inside Puente Grande prison. They said he did this mainly through phone calls, in which he would instruct subordinates to make transactions with Colombian drug traffickers, move drug shipments, how to pay off police authorities and how to intimidate said authorities with the threat of violence. 

In August 2008, Pelo Chino was given an additional 4 prison sentence for a weapons possession charge. In 2016, 11 years after he was sent to Puente Grande, El Pelo Chino was released from prison. By this time his uncle Rafael Caro Quintero had been released from prison and was now living on the run due to a PGR arrest warrant to recapture him. Pelo Chino was rumored to have met with his uncle who requested he manage South American drug smuggling on behalf of the Caborca Cartel. 

The most recent descriptions of Pelo Chino’s operations say that he reportedly has drug shipments shipped or flown to the state of Quintana Roo from locations in South America. 

According to federal investigation documents, El Pelo Chino pays off several officials from the General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics stationed at the Chetumal airport, officials from the Quintana Roo Attorney General's Office and elements of the Quintana Roo State Police. He also reportedly manages the transportation of Caborca Cartel drug shipments through the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and parts of Tabasco. The federal report alleges El Pelo Chino’s discreetness may put him ahead of El R as a potential successor to Rafael Caro Quintero within the Caborca Cartel. 

*Note: El Gigio was cited as Felipe de Jesus Sosa Canisales on the banner addressed to AMLO but El Gigio’s real name is now believed to be Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela, according to recent releases from US OFAC, detailed further in this previous story

Press Conference Sources: Transcript of Presidential Press Conference, Diario Cambio 22, Sonidouno907, El Cuarto Poder, Milenio, Proceso, Zeta, Archived Reforma Article 

March 2022 Shooting Sources: Imparcial Oaxaca, Noticias en la Mira, Cronica de Oaxaca, Razon, Milenio, Televisa Regional, CYD Noticias

El Pelo Chino Reforma Articles: August 3 2003, February 22 2005, January 1 2005, March 30 2005, May 27 2008, June 13 2008, August 27 2008

Additional Pelo Chino Sources: Cuatro Poder, Reynosa Codigo Rojo, Noticias NSS


  1. Not to worry, after the bribes are paid to the corrupt judge, they will be out in two days, laughing it out.

    1. They were let out the back door, judge did not read the case, but stamped "Caso Cerrado". They were let out at 1 pm.

  2. Bruce Willis said he is not doing no more action movies. Yippee Kayee!

    1. Nicolas Cage still makes cool movies at least

    2. So did Charles Bronson, too bad the sons did not go into acting careers.

    3. Nicholas Cage is a Good actor. Loved the one he played riding the motorcycle. Of the devil.

  3. The chinesse hair has a history!

    1. 10:15 chinese hair does not have a curly history...

  4. Sandra's Avila Beltran had a new boyfriend when she got cogido and sent to the US, argentinian juan diego Espinosa Martinez who may still be in prison, they got cogidos with a 9 ton
    boat load of cacaine.
    Pinche vieja bomba ya tiene más millas en el mofle que una patrulla del DF importada usada de los US...

  5. That woman is gorgeous. I'm sick of washed-out looking skinny blonde Nordic poodle women being the standard of beauty.

    1. James Brown you making fun of my Lily, my poodle will bite you on the leg, she can be vicious at times. So Brown I advise you stay 6 feet away.

    2. 5:45 yeah, for a 70 year old she looks ok, I'd rather take 2 35 year old women.

  6. By now,
    sandra craps bat shit, dangit!


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