Drug Lord Who Founded Sinaloa Cartel With El Chapo And Whose Wife And Children Were Murdered Is To Be Freed

The drug baron who was El Chapo’s right-hand man and who is credited with helping him found the Sinaloa Cartel looks set to be freed after two witnesses needed to testify against him could not be found.

Hector ‘El Guero’ Palma Salazar, 80, was due to be released early last year after being absolved of organised crime charges by a Mexican judge. But he was rearrested just as he was walking through the prison doors.

In total, El Guero, whose nickname means ‘Blondie’ in English, has served 26 years in prison, including nine years in a jail in California and another stint at Mexico’s ‘Altiplano’ maximum security prison following his release from jail in the USA in 2016.

Moment the criminologist Monica Ramirez interviews El Chapo about his addictions. (@MonRamirezCano/Newsflash)

A judge at the Fourth Unitary Court in Zapopan, Jalisco State, ordered him kept in custody while the authorities investigated further organised crime charges and attempted to obtain statements from two protected witnesses.

However, it was learned that both witnesses – Marcelo Pena Garcia alias ‘Julio’, brother-in-law of El Chapo, and Javier Burgueno Uria alias ‘Cesar’, a businessman originally from Sinaloa State – had been untraceable for the last six years. And now the court has decided that, without evidence, El Guero should be released.

The two men are supposed to have evidence that El Guero ordered the trafficking of a shipment of 3,288 kilogrammes of cocaine, which was seized by federal authorities in Tecoman, Colima State on 19th July, 1999.

El Chapo Guzman. (Newsflash)

They also said he was responsible for a small plane allegedly trafficking USD 12 million that was seized by federal authorities in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora State, on 12th October, 1995.

In addition, both witnesses had pointed to El Guero as the murderer of the deputy director of the Judicial Police of Nayarit State, Antonio Contreras, and his bodyguard, Jose Cruz Guerrero, on 18th May, 1995.

To these accusations is added that of the theft of narcotics committed on 21st May, 1997, from the headquarters of the former Attorney General’s Office (PGR) in San Luis Rio Colorado.

El Chapo Guzman. (Newsflash)

El Guero’s criminal career includes being arrested for trafficking cocaine in 1978, after which he was jailed for eight years in the USA. When he was freed, he returned to Mexico and started working for El Chapo.

Together, the pair made the cartel the most powerful in Mexico. US officials estimate it trafficked 181 tonnes of cocaine into the country between 1990 and 2008.

However, also upon El Guero’s return to Mexico, he found his wife had run off with a hitman and taken their two children with them.

Hector Luis Palma Salazar, alias El Guero Palma, former leader of Sinaloa Cartel, has been absolved by Mexican authorities, May 2021. (Newsflash)

The hitman, a Venezuelan man named Rafael Enrique Clavel, went on to kill El Guero’s wife and their two children, aged 5 and 4, on the orders of superiors. El Guero was later sent his wife’s severed head.

Clavel and his own three children would later be killed, allegedly on El Guero’s orders. Further killings allegedly carried out to avenge the murder of El Guero’s family would later be attributed to El Guero.

El Guero’s second arrest took place after his private jet crashed while he was travelling to a wedding in June 1995, and he was extradited to the US two years later, when he was jailed for 16 years in California.