Aug 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: A narco speaks from behind bars

Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, former co-leader of the Guadalajara cartel, in the 1970s (right) and today. He has lost hearing in one ear, sight in one eye and needs an oxygen tank to breathe.
Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, former co-leader of the Guadalajara cartel, in the 1970s (left) and today. He has lost hearing in one ear, sight in one eye and needs an oxygen tank to breathe. Photo: Noticias Telemundo

Former cartel boss Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo breaks his silence in an interview with Noticias Telemundo, his first since being apprehended in 1989 in connection with the deaths of DEA undercover agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena and Mexican pilot Alfredo Zavala.

Details: The man who once was considered “The Godfather” of narco crime and one of the most feared criminals worldwide is now a visibly worn-down 75-year-old who calls himself a “corpse waiting to be buried by a tree’s roots.”

  • About Camarena, Félix Gallardo says: “Never met him [...] but I know he was a good man,” as he continued to deny that he masterminded the agent’s murder.
  • Yet he added he hopes Camarena’s widow “should feel relieved that the culprits are serving time.”
  • Besides Félix Gallardo, former Guadalajara Cartel co-leader Ernesto Fonseca is under house arrest.
  • Former cop and presumed triggerman in the murder, Francisco Tejeda Jaramillo, left prison in 2016 and is now a painter.

Flashback: Félix Gallardo’s expansion of drug routes toward the U.S. earned him the nickname “jefe de jefes,” and the group he co-founded was the first major Mexican criminal organization.

  • Félix Gallardo once worked alongside fugitive Rafael Caro Quintero, one of the FBI’s 10 most wanted, and oversaw lieutenants like a young Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán — later leader of the Sinaloa cartel — and Amado Carrillo Fuentes, nicknamed “el señor de los cielos” for the fleet of airplanes used to move drugs for his Juárez cartel.

State of play: The Sinaloa and Juárez cartels are still operating, after their original kingpins were imprisoned or died. The Guadalajara cartel is no more.

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