El Güero Palma: The Narco that Survived the Prison

He was arrested by chance and released from a prison in the United States for good behavior. Hector "El Güero" Palma Salazar was considered one of the most violent drug traffickers in Mexico in the 1980s and 1990s and was a close friend of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.

El Güero Palma: The Narco that Survived the Prison
Drug trafficker El Güero Palma. Photo: Agencies

He was arrested by chance and released from a prison in the United States for good behavior. Hector "El Güero" Palma Salazar was considered one of the most violent drug traffickers in Mexico in the 1980s and 1990s and was a close friend of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.

Palma was born in La Noria de Abajo, in the municipality of Mocorito, Sinaloa, and only studied Primary because of the poverty of his family. The crime soon reached his life, and in his teens, he had already stolen cars.

He called the attention of Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, the largest cocaine and marihuana drug dealer in Mexico, also known as "The Chief of Chiefs" or "The Godfather", who hired him as a hitman in the 70s and later ordered him to smuggle cocaine in Sonora.

A young Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán also worked for Felix Gallardo in the Guadalajara Cartel, so he became a close friend of "El Güero", who was accused of keeping a drug shipment, so his boss did not It took him revenge.

Towards the end of the eighties, "El Güero" and Guzmán Loera rose in leaps and bounds towards the leadership in the world of drug trafficking with the Sinaloa Cartel, but soon the worst blow came for Palma.

"El Padrino", allegedly ordered to kill the children and the wife of "El Güero", to whom he sent the head of his beloved. The murder, at the hands of Colombian narco leader Rafael Clavel Moreno, of the Felix Gallardo group, removed Palma Salazar from anonymity, because an unprecedented battle between the criminals was created.

"El Güero" built a mausoleum for his family with an estimated value of USD 420,000, in the Jardines del Humaya Pantheon, in Culiacán, Sinaloa. On the roof, there is a painting of his wife and children.

In revenge, he ordered the murder of nine friends and relatives of Felix Gallardo. Some of the bodies presented multiple blows, skull fractures, and a burst of viscera.

A small plane that moved him from Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, to Guadalajara Jalisco, collapsed. When he was convalescing after the accident, the military discovered him in June 1995 thanks to his striking and unmistakable Colt Super 83 pistol.

Mexican authorities sentenced him to seven years in prison at the high-security prison in Puente Grande, Jalisco, for possession of cocaine, drug trafficking, and organized crime. In the penitentiary of Puente Grande, he coincided with his friend "El Chapo", who had been apprehended in 1993, until January 2001 when Guzmán Loera escaped.

In the company of "El Chapo" and Arturo Martínez "El Texas", he took over the entire Puente Grande prison. The investigation into the escape of Guzmán revealed that the three criminals imposed the rules inside the penitentiary center. Palma was accused by the Prosecutor's Office of being one of the accomplices of the escape; however, he was acquitted of this charge years later.

In 2007, Palma was extradited to the US and convicted of trafficking cocaine in 2008. He was first sent to a prison in Phoenix, Arizona, where he had contact with other inmates. But once he was sentenced to 16 years in prison and 5 years of probation, he was sent to the federal prison of the State of Colorado, in the center of the United States.

It was ADX Florence, the safest maximum-security prison in the country, in which Guzmán Loera could serve a life sentence. The place is famous for the view that the mountains of Fremont County offer. However, the penitentiary is designed so that prisoners can never appreciate them.

"The worst of the worst in the vast network of American prisons usually ends in ADX, also known as The Rocky Alcatraz," said former prison director Robert Hood in a special report for CNN.

In that place, Palma never saw other inmates. He spent 23 hours a day in his cell and at hour 24 he could see the sun in the sky, through a window in the ceiling. He did not speak English and the guards did not speak Spanish, so "for long periods I had no one to talk to," his lawyer Frank Ragen said, according to the Mexican newspaper Milenio.

Some of the inmates in said prison are Eric Rudolph, an American terrorist responsible for the attacks on the Olympic Games of Atlanta in 1996; Zacarias Moussaoui, a former member of Al Qaeda who participated in the planning of the September 11 attacks; Ramzi Yousef, considered the "brain" of the attack on the Twin Towers and Ted Kaczynski (The Unabomber), a Harvard graduate who between 1978 and 1995 sent 16 bomb letters to different universities in the country.

ADX Florence has been criticized by organizations defending human rights due to its harsh conditions of isolation. Palma served nine of the 16 years in prison for his sentence for drug trafficking. The US authorities considered him to have behaved well during his incarceration and released him on June 15, 2016.

"El Güero" Palma left the prison at age 56, with an inguinal hernia, hemorrhoids, poor vision, and several missing teeth, Mexican media reported. He was the second leader of a cartel released from a US jail. The first was Francisco Arellano Félix, in 2008.

He was deported and apprehended in Mexico for the murder of a judicial officer and his escort in the 1990s. He remains in the Altiplano penitentiary, in the State of Mexico.

Why the family of el Güero Palma was killed?

It was 1989, the Guadalajara Cartel was very strong; then El Chapo and Guero Palma waged a war against the Arellano Felix which ended in blood.

In February 1985, the death of Enrique Camarena, a DEA agent, forced the arrest of "El Jefe de Jefes", Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, leaving a power vacuum, which soon began to be disputed between "El Chapo" and the Arellano Felix brothers.

It was 1989, and the Guadalajara Cartel controlled drugs in Mexico but the fall of Felix Gallardo caused his disappearance, his partners, Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo were also arrested.

In the absence of the Guadalajara Cartel's leaders, the differences between other drug traffickers such as Héctor "El Güero" Palma, Joaquín el "Chapo" Guzmán, and the Arellano Félix began. One of the violent events was the day that the family of Hector "El Guero" Palma was murdered by orders of Arellano Felix. But why was the family of the Güero Palma killed?

The origin of the war

The blood began to flow when the Arellano Felix brothers began to murder people from "El Chapo" and "El Güero", which was fatally detonated by the cruel murder of "El Güero"'s family. This crime was orchestrated by Arellano Felix, who hired a man to gain the trust of Palma Salazar's wife and later conquer her and take her away. This happened, the woman was murdered and her two small children were thrown off a bridge.

Palma Salazar began to act in a bloodthirsty manner in the face of this fact and had all the backing of the "Chapo". The union of these three characters formed, according to the recent confession of "El Rey" Zambada, brother of Ismael Zambada, "La Federación", which would later receive the name of the Sinaloa Cartel. At that time, the cartel was also made up of the Beltrán Leyva brothers.

Personally, according to "El Rey" Zambada, the "Chapo" was looking forward to the death of Ramón Arellano Félix, who was head of the cartel's hitmen. According to El Espectador, the Arellano Felix brothers did not agree and Amado Carrillo, "The Lord of the Skies," agreed to join Chapo and his allies against the Tijuana cartel.

It was after Chapo Guzman's escape from Guatemala City prison in 2001 that the Sinaloa Cartel gained control of the Arellano Felix family, taking many lives in the war, including the famous murder of Cardinal Posadas Ocampo in Guadalajara.

A war that "ended" with Ramon's death at the Mazatlan Carnival

On February 10, 2002, at approximately 10:00 a.m., elements of the Ministerial Police were chasing the five occupants of a white car with VFY 6068 plates from Sinaloa, all because they were traveling in the opposite direction on Rafael Buelna Avenue near the Golden Zone. It was then that the young man was taken to the parking lot of a hotel where he was abandoned.

Ángel Antonio Árias Torres, the then commander of the Ministerial Police, ran into someone who identified himself as Jorge Pérez López with a name tag from the Attorney General's Office; it was Ramón Arellano Félix.

He took advantage of the moment when the commander let his guard down to shoot him twice in the chest. The bullets did their part. When Angel Antonio Arias Torres fell almost dead he reacted and shot the alleged AFI agent who was shot in the head. The commander may not have known who he "took out in front of him. Both bodies fell dead on the sidewalk and garrison outside a pharmacy.