Lord of the Skies : Amado Carrillo Fuentes

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mnjmc
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Lord of the Skies : Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Unread post by mnjmc » July 1st, 2008, 3:29 am

An estimated $200 million a week in illicit-drug profits are being turned into NAFTA-related businesses on the U.S.-Mexico border by the world's most vicious narcotraffickers. While American lawmakers continue to pressure President Clinton to take the fight to Mexican drug cartels, Insight unmasks the criminal syndicate corrupting authorities on both sides of the Rio Grande.

Most tourist guidebooks about Mexico don't even mention the border city of Juarez. The few that do are scathing. "There's little doubt that the best thing to do on arriving in Ciudad Juarez is to leave," remarks one travel guide. Wise advice indeed. Originally a small settlement on the Santa Fe trail known as Paso del Norte, Juarez is Mexico's fourth-largest city but has few claims to historical fame and no architectural charm. Sprawling and ugly and dwarfing its cheek-by-jowl American neighbor El Paso, Juarez has a reputation for danger that is fully deserved.

Even hardened border Americans who flock to the Mexican city on weekends for the cheap booze and whores treat Juarez with caution: They party in the bars and brothels of the squalid main drag but steer clear of the dimly lit downtown side streets -- the preserve of los pandillas, vicious street gangs responsible for a couple of hundred murders every year.

Gang violence is but a stitch or two in the menace woven deeply into the city's fabric, for Juarez also enjoys two booming export economies. On the outskirts 350 mainly U.S.-owned modern factories, or maquilas, churn out electronic appliances and furniture for a consumption-hungry America. The other economy also pumps out products purchased north of the Rio Grande, but it remains mostly hidden, and inquiry by strangers can lead to barbaric violence and mysterious disappearances.

For Juarez is the town of the "Lord of Heaven," Amado Carillo Fuentes, the top Mexican narcotrafficker whose capture has become a major priority for a Clinton administration under intense congressional pressure to stop the flood of Mexican drugs into the United States. From mansions in the upmarket Juarez district of Condesa, Carillo oversees an international crime empire that employs thousands and is bigger and more powerful than even the Colombian narcoenterprises of the late 1980s. Last month on Capitol Hill, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, head Tom Constantine described the Carillo Fuentes network as "staggering" and warned that the 41-year-old godfather is "attempting to consolidate control over drug trafficking along the entire Mexican northern border." Every week, the Juarez cartel generates an estimated $200 million in profit -- the ill-gotten reward for annually spiriting 100 tons of cocaine and large shipments of heroin and methamphetamines across the Southwest border.

Since April 1993 when he succeeded to the leadership of the Juarez cartel through "the evolution of violence," to quote a veteran U.S. lawman, Carrillo and his cohorts have made El Paso's neighboring city their own in much the same way Colombian drug baron Pablo Escobar ruled Medellin as a personal fiefdom -- local Juarez newspapers don't write about him and police chiefs don't dare arrest him. "He's insulated," says Phil Jordan, a former top DEA agent. And in February, the scope of Carillo's influence elsewhere in Mexico was dramatized starkly when Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, the Mexican drug czar, was revealed to be one of the Lord of Heaven's paid retainers -- a discovery that prompted outrage on Capitol Hill and led the House of Representatives to declare Mexico a delinquent ally in the war against drugs.

Despite being the DEA's public enemy No. 1, having been indicted in absentia on drug charges in Texas and Florida, Carillo seems to be so confident of his ability to stay one step ahead of American law enforcement that he continues to slip cockily across the border on periodic business trips and shopping sprees to Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles, though with less frequency than before. And in Mexico, where he's wanted on a mere firearms violation, he operates with an impunity that flows from bribery and brutal intimidation -- from pesos and bullets.

The tale of Carillo's rise is for some US. drug warriors a story wrapped up in an enigma. The puzzle? Why has the Lord of Heaven -- he earned the nickname because of his large fleet of drug-smuggling airliners -- become the 1990s border version of Chicago's Al Capone in such short time? "I've seen him shoot from an acorn into a tree," remarks a recently retired senior DEA agent.

The other, more pressing, conundrums for DEA agents are how to take him down and why there isn't more political backing from Washington to launch an all-out special-operations bid to nail Fuentes and his associates. Texas-based DEA agents recently were so concerned about the Clinton administration's softly-softly approach to Mexico and drugs that they refrained from informing superiors in Washington of an explosive investigation they've mounted into alleged links between Carillo and luminaries of the ruling Mexican PRI party. The agents have targeted a former personal secretary of ax-President Carlos Salinas and former Mexican Transport Secretary Emilio Gambao Patron, who also is a member of the current Mexican administration. "Upstairs in Washington there's a real fear about rocking the boat with Mexico," says a senior DEA agent.

From hundreds of pages of top-secret U.S. and Mexican intelligence documents and interviews with dozens of current and former lawmen and informants on both sides of the Southwest border, Insight has pieced together an exclusive profile of the highly clandestine Juarez cartel. It is the story of Carillo himself and of one of the cartel's five main families, the Zaragoza Fuentes family of El Paso and Juarez, who allegedly transport drugs and launder money for the Lord of Heaven and who alone control a byzantine network of hundreds of real and sham companies stretching from Mexico City and Guadalajara to New York and the Bahamas.

What emerges from informed law-enforcement sources and intelligence reports is a ruthless trafficking organization that has managed to enmesh itself insidiously with the post-North American Free Trade Agreement economies of the southern states of America and the northern states of Mexico. "To appreciate the cartel's scale you should think of it as the criminal equivalent of General Motors," advises a DEA agent. "Juarez is a company town every bit as much as Detroit."

From Juarez the tentacles of the cartel stretch far and wide -- from the coca-producing countries to the south of Bolivia and Peru, through the cocaine-shipment nations of Colombia and Guatemala and then on up north to American cities such as Houston, Little Rock and Chicago and deep into Canada. The cartel's money-laundering network unwinds even further afield: Eastward, this time to hundreds of banks in the Bahamas, London, Frankfurt, Switzerland and Hong Kong, only to loop back to Juarez in the form of "clean" investment in some of the border maquilas and to Texas, New Mexico and other southern U.S. states, where Carillo and his lieutenants and associates are purchasing businesses and vast tracts of land. The extent of their "legitimate" business holdings is enormous. Civil associations, sports clubs, shopping malls, nightclubs, luxury hotels, restaurants and ranches all are included in the cartel's property portfolio.

Senior DEA agents even allege the Juarez traffickers wield ultimate behind-the-scenes ownership of one of Mexico's major private airlines, Taesa, which Insight can reveal is the focus of a secret Texas-based U.S. probe. Cartel associates, in this case the Zaragoza Fuentes family, run one of the world's largest propane gas import-and-export businesses, which during the 1980s inexplicably escaped punishment when it defied American embargo regulations and shipped Texas propane to Nicaragua, according to U.S. Customs database reports in the Treasury, Enforcement and Control System, or TECS. The Zaragoza Fuentes also are Mexico's main milk suppliers, and the current head of the clan, Tomas, has a major interest in at least one Texas bank.

For all of Mexico's top traffickers -- the Arellano Felixes in Tijuana, the Meraz family in San Luis, the Quinteros of Mexicali, the Amezcua of Guadalajara and the Esparragoza-Moreno organization -- the last four years have been boom time. From being diligent junior partners of Colombia's Cali and Medellin cartels they have emerged as the Western Hemisphere's undisputed drug kingpins, and in passing have brought Mexico to the very brink of becoming a narcostate. But it is Carillo's network that has benefited the most. Much of the Lord of Heaven's present success is a harvest of the past. The Juarez cartel is no new underworld growth. It has been rooting itself in the Mexican state of Chihuahua and in the northern towns of Hermosillo, Torreon and Durango since 1980 when it was formed by legendary marijuana-smugglers Rafael Aguilar Fajardo and Baldomero Fuentes Garcia. In 1987, the Juarez traffickers branched out into the even more lucrative cocaine trade. Only then did the Mexican attorney general's office, or PGR, start paying them much heed.

One early strategic PGR goal involved outlining the cartel's bribery ties with law enforcement on both sides of the border. According to 1988 PGR intelligence updates, even at this stage the Juarez drug barons were highly active in bribing Mexican officialdom and in securing the paid collusion of American border inspectors. Apparently, one Gustavo Tavo Silvera was a Juarez cartel contact with U.S. Customs inspectors at El Paso's Zaragoza and Sante Fe border bridges -- the Customs officials were paid "$10,000 for each car that was allowed to cross. Each car would sometimes be loaded with as much as 300 kilograms in drugs," according to one update. Anxiety about the Juarez cartel's corruptive influence became a constant refrain in secret Mexican reports from then on. In 1992, a top PGR goal remained "knowing the group's ties with authorities who facilitate their work on both sides of the border."

U.S. agencies were "just AWOL when it came to Mexican traffickers for most of the eighties," concedes a high-ranking DEA agent. "All our attention was focused on the Colombians. We were condescending about the Mexicans -- we just saw them as wetbacks and guntoting pistoleros." But not all US. lawmen saw them this way A retired Southwest border Customs agent adds: "Some of us started to document the Juarez boys and the Arellano Felixes in the early and mid 1980s, but no one further up the Customs or DEA hierarchies would pay any attention to us about the magnitude and how rapidly these guys were climbing the ladder. They just didn't understand the validity of monitoring and attacking emerging crime organizations."

As far as the Juarez cartel went, complacency ended on Sept. 28, 1989, when a tip led DEA agents to a warehouse in the Los Angeles suburb of Sylmar ... and to the biggest drug bust in U.S. history More than 20 tons of cocaine were found by shocked officers -- a tremendous, albeit unwitting, DEA score that ironically led to the ascendancy of the Lord of Heaven. Sylmar helped U.S. and Mexican law enforcement to arrest within four years the cartel's original leadership. Rafael and Eduardo Munoz Talavera, the linkage with the Cali cartel, were imprisoned in 1993, and Rafael Aguilar Guajardo, a former Mexican federal police chief who rose to head the cartel, was gunned down in April 1993 while on a Cancun holiday by rivals, possibly within the cartel, who feared he was making a deal with Mexican authorities to avoid seizure of his assets. Aguilar had been especially anxious not to forfeit a soccer team and a magazine, according to a leaked PGR report.

Amado Carillo Fuentes took over.

He came with impeccable drug credentials. Family ties and family-arranged smuggling apprenticeships cleared the way for him to grasp command. Born in the Sinaloa mountains near Culiacan -- where most of the dominant Mexican trafficking families trace their roots -- Carillo began to learn his trade young, and right at the feet of Uncle Ernesto Fonseca Carillo, one of the three top drug barons of the eighties. Along with brothers Cipriano and Vicente, he started at the bottom -- depositing marijuana at safe houses. Through his uncle he later went to work for the heroin-smuggling Herrara family in the neighboring state of Durango, where he struck up a wild friendship with godfather Jaime Herrara Nevares' son Jaime Jr. The two were inseparable, says an informant who worked later for Cipriano. They played hard, smoked dope, crashed cars and visited whorehouses together -- Carillo is believed to have at least two illegitimate children.

The Durango years were not Carillo's most reckless. During the mid-eighties the young Sinaloan became the lieutenant in Chihuahua of the freewheeling, freebasing Pablo Acosta Villareal, an ill-disciplined and flamboyant drug baron who pioneered using light aircraft to ferry drugs across the border. When his gunslinging addict of a boss overstepped the mark and was killed in a 1987 shootout with Mexican police, Carillo fled and teamed up with brother Cipriano in the Durango town of Torreon. That union lasted two years as 1989 saw deep and bloody rivalries break out among the trafficking families, prompted by the arrests of several top smugglers, including Carillo's uncle, for involvement in the torture and murder of DEA agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena. Capriano died in mysterious circumstances -- an AK-47 bullet to the mouth finished him.

It isn't known when Carillo returned to Chihuahua state nor exactly how he slithered up the cartel's hierarchy, though some drug watchers south of the border suspect the close ties he formed during his apprentice years with the Cali cartel's Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela were crucial. The detailed ins and outs aside, three things are clear about the Lord of Heaven: He's quick to seize opportunities and exploit the misfortunes of rivals which he often engineers, he's a shrewd and patient tactician and he generally balances savage retaliation with a readiness to compromise and form alliances.

Certainly Carillo benefited from inheriting a cartel that was well-organized and rich even before his elevation to drug-baron status. According to PGR assessments, in 1988 and 1989 the cartel moved 250 tons of 100 percent pure cocaine with a street value of $21 billion. But with remarkable swiftness he has transformed Mexico's narcotrafficking pecking order and established the Juarez organization as primus inter pares. "Amado has wrestled the top spot -- the other families, particularly the Arellano Felixes, resent it but in the end he's in the driving seat," says a Customs source.

One way he secured his position was to enrich his cartel even further by pioneering the use of Boeing 727s and French Caravelles to shift massive Colombian cocaine loads into Mexico. And Carillo has maintained his grip and expanded his influence by continuing to learn from the indiscretions of his onetime boss Acosta: He can be the homicidal gunslinger with rivals or associates suspected of inefficiency or disloyalty but he also can be a peacemaker and has widened the cartel by contracting out drug loads and shipments to new families, say DEA agents. Until recently he presided over regular secret meetings with the bosses of rival cartels, including the Arellano Felixes and the Meraz and Quinteros families, according to a highly placed informant who infiltrated one of the cartels for US. Customs and the DEA.

In an interview with Insight the informant says Carillo met other family heads about every 90 days at a resort near Golfo de Santa Clara. Fearful of U.S. electronic surveillance, the narcotraffickers would only talk business when out on a luxury fishing vessel in the Gulf of California. The purpose of the meetings? "Straighten out differences and keep the flow of business going without the disruption of cartel violence," says the source. Those get-togethers no longer take place -- fearful of Carillo's capo di capo ambitions the Arellano Felixes have tried at least once to kill the Sinaloan.

But he is a difficult man to murder as well as being a difficult man to arrest. Carillo trusts a tiny inner circle, which includes his Juarez underboss brother Vicente and some Herrara family members. Vigilant about security, Carillo in the past has hired former Israeli intelligence agents and former British Special Air Service soldiers for advice, according to a DEA source. "He's paranoid about security concerning himself or the cartel generally," comments a U.S. lawman. He even has a unit monitoring the American and Mexican media for leaks. His own travel is planned with White House precision: First, and weeks ahead of any trip, intensive and prolonged electronic surveillance of police radio bands is conducted in any area he intends to visit on either side of the border. Days before Carillo's scheduled arrival his bodyguards flood the area to check for unusual on-the-ground police activity -- when satisfied he's safe, Carillo arrives in a specially converted bullet-and bomb-proof car, generally an upmarket four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Probing for weak links that could lead them to their quarry, U.S. lawmen tasked with bringing Carillo down identify only two: a cocaine habit and alcohol binges. "When he's real high or launched on a drinking session he can be unthinking and terrifyingly violent," remarks a senior DEA agent. "If he's going to make mistakes it'll be when he's full of powder or drink." Apart from those two flaws, there's little to go on when targeting the Lord of Heaven -- especially when Mexican authorities are reluctant to go for Carillo directly or are paid to stay away Mexican federal judicial, or FJP, policemen supplement Carillo's Condesa bodyguards, concede PGR sources. Likewise, FJP officers are helpful in guarding Juarez cartel airstrips, including, an informant tells Insight, four located at the 11,000-hectare Rancho Nuevo, northeast of the small Mexican town of Morelos, which once was owned by the late state governor, Teofilo Borunda.

The Juarez cartel devotes at least 10 percent of its income to paying off Mexican officials and lawmen, the PGR estimates. The now-splintered Gulf cartel, until recently run by convicted drug lord Juan Garcia Abrego, boasted the best political connections of all the Mexican narcoenterprises during the administration of President Carlos Salinas, but this is Carillo's time. Via a former Abrego lieutenant, Oscar Malherbe de Leon, under arrest in Mexico, Carillo has roped in some of the Gulf cartel's purchased politicos to add to his own. The other Juarez families also are well placed with political connections, especially the wealthy Zaragoza Fuentes, whose alleged trafficking activities are voluminously documented in PGR and US. law-enforcement databases.

Despite a welter of criminal intelligence held both sides of the Southwest border on the Zaragoza Fuentes, the family has remained virtually untouched by law enforcement. This is alleged to be the result of the high-grade Mexican political connections they enjoy. TECS reports say, for instance, the family has relatives of former Mexican attorney general and former Chihuahua governor Oscar Flores Sanchez, including his son Oscar Flores Tapia, working for them.

But the family has remained undisturbed in the United States as well: In spite of a major IRS tax-violation case against members of the family in Texas, and seven years of detailed narcotics allegations against them, no asset-forfeiture efforts have been mounted by American authorities. This has led some former and current DEA and Customs agents to complain about lack of direction and political will in the war on drugs.

An old Juarez family, the Zaragoza Fuentes are related by blood to Carillo Fuentes and by marriage to the original cartel leaders -- a cousin, Pedro, is the brother-in-law of the two Rafaels Munoz Talavera and Aguilar Guajardo. According to U.S. intelligence reports (copies are held by Insight), the patriarch of the family was Miguel Sr., who had four sons -- Miguel, now 62, Eduardo, 59, Tomas, 52, and Ricardo, 43 -- and one daughter -- Irma. Their story is one of rags to riches -- Miguel Sr. started out as a kitchen-cabinet salesman.

On the face of it the family owns or controls a vast empire of legitimate businesses stretching from the United States through Central America and extending east to the Bahamas and Germany. A 35-page U.S. multi-agency intelligence-analysis records: "The Zaragoza-Fuentes family heads one of the world's largest suppliers of LP (liquid propane) gas. Through a myriad of companies, the family operates and controls business interests ranging from LP distributine, to maritime shipping, trucking, aviation, land holdings, management companies and banking interests." Family companies are licensed by PEMEX, the state-owned Mexican oil industry, to supply propane to the whole of Mexico. But "behind the vertically integrated companies, the horizontally related companies, the real companies, the shell companies, the web of shared addresses and the recurring names is a second empire ... built on narcotics smuggling, money laundering, income-tax evasion, export violations and weapons smuggling," says the intelligence analysis.

Both Mexican and U.S. authorities initially launched separate probes into the family in October 1990 after Customs officials at the California Otay Mesa port of entry discovered four tons of cocaine in a Hidrogas de Juarez tanker owned by the Zaragozas (see "Megacorruption at the Border," Nov. 11, 1996). But the inquiries petered out. In 1994, a joint U.S.-Mexico money-laundering investigation into the family, Operation Cobra, floundered when Mexican law-enforcement agencies refused to cooperate.

"The propane-gas companies were not looked into this side of the border as early as they should have been," complains a former Customs agent. Why? "We just weren't gung-ho enough." Former DEA agent Jordan, who until 1995 was director of the El Paso Intelligence Center, a federal information-sharing facility, complains: "We knew about HidroGas and the other trucking companies but did nothing. We should have closed them down -- still should." Insight has identified more than 60 Zaragoza Fuentes-owned or -controlled firms, some of which, despite strong U.S. suspicions of drug trafficking and money laundering, are participants in the border line-release program, a Customs import-export scheme designed to speed trucks through US. ports of entry by reducing cargo inspections. Dozens of Zaragoza Fuentes tankers pass daily through American land crossings. They just keep on trucking. But Insight efforts to reach a family spokesman were unsuccessful.

The Zaragozas' charmed life has been long. Back in the mid-1980s, U.S. authorities failed to intervene after discovering that firms owned or controlled by the family, including Western Energy, Warren Petroleum, Paso del Norte, Gas Del Tropico and HidroGas of Juarez, broke the American embargo on Nicaragua and exported propane gas and liquid petroleum to the Sandinistas via Honduras and Guatemala.

"We were sleepwalking then and still are," remarks a DEA agent. "Now we have to try to deal with a cartel that has an annual income which rivals our entire federal antidrug budget."

mnjmc
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Re: Lord of the Skies : Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Unread post by mnjmc » July 1st, 2008, 3:32 am

That article was written in 1996.

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Re: Lord of the Skies : Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Unread post by thewestside » July 2nd, 2008, 3:34 pm

The Juarez cartel was one of the most powerful through much of the 1990's. However, it has since lost ground to the other organizations, including the two most powerful right now - the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels.

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Re: Lord of the Skies : Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Unread post by mnjmc » July 3rd, 2008, 2:56 am

The Juarez Cartel was the most powerful at the time Amado Carrillo was alive. All the other cartels mentioned in the article were transporting his cocaine, with the exception of the Arellano brothers of Tijuana. The main reason the Juarez Cartel lost ground was that nobody really respected his brothers. El Chapo had one of his brothers killed in Culiacan a few years ago I think in 2004. Now the Juarez Cartel is controled by the Chapo and Mayo orginization. Also that transportation company is called TMM, Amado Carrillo and Juan Jose Esparragoza "el Azul", were major investors in that company.

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Re: Lord of the Skies : Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Unread post by thewestside » July 3rd, 2008, 4:13 am

Here is a map of the current drug cartel territories in Mexico. The Federation of Cartels is the Sinaloa cartel/federation.

Image

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Re: Lord of the Skies : Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Unread post by Word » July 3rd, 2008, 9:27 am

^^How long have the Federation of Cartels been allied? I remember reading something about that....how it wouldnt last long b/c the leaders of what was their respective cartel, are on a power struggle...so they'll prolly be internal problems that'll cause traffickers to split.

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Re: Lord of the Skies : Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Unread post by thewestside » July 3rd, 2008, 10:49 am

Word wrote:^^How long have the Federation of Cartels been allied? I remember reading something about that....how it wouldnt last long b/c the leaders of what was their respective cartel, are on a power struggle...so they'll prolly be internal problems that'll cause traffickers to split.
The Sinaloa Federation was formed in 2003.

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Re: Lord of the Skies : Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Unread post by mnjmc » July 8th, 2008, 6:38 am

MEXICO CITY—When Amado Carrillo Fuentes was alive, the drug lord was one of Mexico's most mysterious men. He lived discreetly – no wild shootouts, no late-night disco hopping. Few pictures of him appeared in newspapers or on television. He was from a new breed, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration liked to say, a low-profile kingpin who behaved like a businessman.

But since he died in July following high-risk surgery to change his appearance, an unprecedented flood of information has emerged about Carrillo from Mexican, Chilean and U.S. law enforcement officials as well as other published accounts. The newly available details illuminate his travels, families, properties and businesses. They show that he was in the process of shifting his drug operations to Chile, that he allegedly used a money exchange there to launder money through Citibank accounts in New York, that he had a second family in Cuba and that he was a benefactor of the Catholic Church in Mexico.

The fact that so much information is emerging now that Carrillo is dead underscores, according to analysts here, the untouchability he enjoyed during his years as one of the world's top drug lords. It follows a time-honored tradition in Mexico that the most damning information about powerful people gets aired only after they lose their influence and the information loses its urgency – after the money and drugs have left the country, after the principals are dead, have left office or are hiding elsewhere.

"This is standard operating procedure," said Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, an independent senator and frequent critic of the Mexican government. "The attorney general's office had all this information before Amado Carrillo's death, but they couldn't digest it politically or integrate it in a court of law" because of the powerful people who might have been implicated.

"This has always been the central issue in how the attorney general's office builds its cases," Aguilar said. "They are more compelled by what they have to hide than what they are willing to prosecute."

Among most Mexicans, for instance, it is accepted as an article of faith that sitting presidents are corrupt, but that evidence of their alleged crimes will emerge only after they leave office.

In that sense, some analysts said, the Carrillo case resembles the situation faced by former Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gortari, whose administration from 1988 to 1994 was marked by rumors of high-level corruption. It was not until after he left office, however, that evidence of the alleged crimes began to surface.

Salinas, who has denied any wrongdoing and who has not been charged with any crime, went into exile in early 1995 in Ireland, which has no extradition treaty with Mexico. His older brother, Raul, was arrested and charged with murder, illegal enrichment and abuse of public office. He also has denied any wrongdoing.

The administration of President Ernesto Zedillo remains unmarred by the sort of rumors that plagued the Salinas presidency. But it, too, has been touched by scandals. The head of the anti-drug agency, army Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, was arrested earlier this year for allegedly working for Carrillo. A short time later, Zedillo abolished the agency on grounds that it was too corrupt to be put right.

A senior official in the office of Attorney General Jorge Madrazo Cuellar said detailed information about Carrillo is coming out only now mainly because Madrazo has stopped politically motivated leaks. "Investigations are following professional procedures and have nothing to do with politics," the official said. "Madrazo was very clear about stopping leaks and litigating in the media."

Given his protection payments of as much as $500 million a year, his ruthlessness in dealing with snitches and enemies – by some accounts, he ordered as many as 400 people killed – and his informant network, it is not surprising that so little information about Carrillo became public when he was alive. Nobody wanted to talk.

Carrillo enjoyed tremendous freedom to run his drug business from Mexico and to come and go as he pleased in the months before his death. But he and his cartel also came under increasing pressure from Mexican anti-drug forces. Not only did they nab Gutierrez, his alleged top protector. Carrillo himself barely escaped arrest a month earlier when Mexican agents raided his sister's wedding at the family ranch. A corrupt law enforcement official apparently tipped him to the impending raid and Carrillo fled just before soldiers and police arrived.

"His infrastructure was starting to collapse. No one could withstand the focus," a senior U.S. drug official said, adding that Carrillo made a critical mistake: "He got too big, too notorious."

Feeling the heat, Carrillo, 42, began scrambling to safeguard himself, his family and his drug business. His flight from the law ended July 4, when he died from a lethal combination of drugs administered following radical plastic surgery and liposuction at a small Mexico City hospital.

According to the accounts now available, Carrillo rarely saw his family or spent the night in the same place twice in the months before his death. He frequently traveled abroad, reportedly to Europe, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Argentina and Chile. Shortly after he died, newspapers here published a picture of Carrillo in Jerusalem in the summer of 1995 with a priest from Mexico. Other priests subsequently said that Carrillo gave generously to the Catholic Church.

Some of the foreign trips were to find a new headquarters for his cartel, the Chilean police director, Gen. Ruben Olivares Rojas, told the Mexico City daily Reforma.

A prominent Mexican weekly magazine, Proceso, citing secret military documents, reported Carrillo's right-hand man, Eduardo Gonzalez Quirarte, met earlier this year with high-ranking Mexican military officials to propose a live-and-let-live arrangement: If the government would stop pursuing Carrillo and his family and let them keep half their assets, he would agree to continue pumping drug profits into the Mexican economy, but only from trafficking in the United States and Europe, and to help Mexican police curtail freelance drug smuggling in Mexico.

Mexico's Defense Secretariat acknowledged that four generals met Gonzalez Quirarte in January. However, its statement said, the generals did not know who he was at the time and rejected his offer.

Then came a curious twist.

Gutierrez, in testimony from jail cited by Proceso, said Carrillo aides arranged meetings with the highest brass – including the defense secretary, Gen. Enrique Cervantes – through two attorneys who supposedly worked for the president's office. Gutierrez alleged that cartel representatives offered to pay a $60 million bribe – it is unclear to whom – if the government would cool its pursuit of Carrillo. As a gesture, Carrillo's aides made a $6 million down payment, Gutierrez said, and the Mexican officials pocketed the money but then reneged on the deal.

In a separate court case, another imprisoned army general repeated Gutierrez's allegations about the $60 million bribe and down payment.

Military officials have acknowledged a meeting. But they have declined to identify who attended and denied bribes were offered or money taken.

Antonio Ocaranza, a Zedillo spokesman, called the allegations "a complete lie" and a "smoke screen" to divert attention from the drug-trafficking charges the accusers themselves face. He said the two attorneys named by the generals did not work for the government, although their law firm may have done some legal work for it.

Among other details that have emerged since Carrillo's death:


Absent a deal that would let him live and operate his cartel in peace in Mexico, Carrillo began planning to move his drug business from northern Mexico to Chile, where he, his family and top lieutenants spent three months last spring establishing a business bulkhead and buying cars and real estate.
Carrillo entered Chile by car from Argentina on March 3 using a fake passport in the name of Juan Antonio Arriaga Rangel. Among the people who accompanied or joined him there were his wife, Sonia Barragan Perez; their three small children; his 20-year-old son by another woman, Vicente Carrillo Leyva; and three associates who law enforcement officials report were cartel officials.

According to the officials, they were Gonzalez Quirarte, who conducted much of Carrillo's most sensitive business dealings and was allegedly the liaison between the cartel and Gutierrez; Ricardo Reyes Rincon, a physician present during the drug lord's fatal surgery in July and whose tortured body, Mexican police say, was found in an oil drum three weeks ago beside the Mexico-Acapulco highway; and Manuel Bitar Tafich, a prominent businessman from northern Mexico and a long-time Carrillo friend.


While in Santiago, Carrillo and his assistants allegedly enlisted a local money exchange that had two bank accounts at Citibank in New York to launder drug proceeds and provide them with cash. The U.S. government has frozen the accounts, which have a total of about $26 million, and has filed to seize their assets.
A spokesman for Citibank declined to comment.


Bitar applied to Chile's Foreign Investment Commission for permission to operate a construction and real estate business in the country. Carrillo, using his pseudonym, was listed as a partner.
During his three-month stay, according to Chilean law enforcement officials, Carrillo and his entourage purchased 11 cars, bought or rented almost a dozen mansions, ranches and condominiums, and established a company, Hercules Ltd., to manage his drug operations. He and his associates invested about $6 million in the country in what Chile's interior secretary called "a classic case of money laundering."


Using his fake passport, Carrillo left Chile on June 6 and traveled to Cuba, where he stayed for about three weeks in a residential enclave reserved for government guests. Mexican law enforcement officials said travel records showed Carrillo went to Cuba often in the last three years, perhaps to visit his second family – a woman named Marta and their 2-year-old daughter. U.S. officials said he may have received special treatment from the Cuban government because he appeared to be a rich Mexican businessman willing to invest there.
"The Cubans had no clue who he was," a senior U.S. law enforcement official said. "He presented himself as a Mexican investor with lots of money. No one asked any questions."

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AlbaniaUnited
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Re: Lord of the Skies : Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Unread post by AlbaniaUnited » August 30th, 2008, 12:53 pm

In the movie 'Once Upon a Time in Mexico' Amado Carrillo is protrayed as Armando Barillo. Was the movie correct for the most part or was that lightly based on him for anyone who is familiar with both Amado Carrillo and the movie?

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Re: Lord of the Skies : Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Unread post by mnjmc » August 30th, 2008, 2:15 pm

AlbaniaUnited wrote:In the movie 'Once Upon a Time in Mexico' Amado Carrillo is protrayed as Armando Barillo. Was the movie correct for the most part or was that lightly based on him for anyone who is familiar with both Amado Carrillo and the movie?

The only thing accurate about that Movie was that he was going to have plastic surgery. For some reason this detail about his life always makesit into movies and tv shows. The story most people get told is that he was getting plastic surgery as his final attempt to disappear from the aouthrities. Which is BS because he has had plastic surgery before many times, he just happened to die during the operation but it wasn't the first time he had it done. That movie was pure make believe.

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Re: Lord of the Skies : Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Unread post by Gico » May 26th, 2012, 8:57 pm

Sorry,im know this topic is very old,but how i can get a fake passport ? for Spain, south mid or north america ? is it easy to get one ?
thanx for a answer :wink:

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