How “El Poporro” Turned Cancun into a Narco-Smuggling Bazaar

Notorious narco-trafficker “Poporro” (alias for “Big Butt”), who led migrant smuggling ring “Los del Sur”, nabbed in a joint op by Colombian, UK and Mexican forces. He used Mexican soil to traffic humans and drugs, evading authorities until his Cancun capture.

How “El Poporro” Turned Cancun into a Narco-Smuggling Bazaar
Palm trees sway, cocktails clink, but for "Poporro," paradise just turned into a perp walk. Credit: Gustavo Petro

Forget El Chapo's tunnels, “Los del Sur” had a first-class airlift for their cargo – human cargo, that is. Led by the portly Pablo Escobar wannabe, Nelson Enrique Bautista Reatiga, alias “Poporro” (a nickname that translates roughly to “Big Butt” – charming, isn't it?), they turned Cancun into a transit lounge for dreams smuggled on jet wings. Turns out, even paradise has a back door.

Poporro, topping Colombia's “Most Wanted” list like a particularly pungent salsa verde, ran a migrant trafficking ring using Mexico as his playground. Think of him as the Willy Wonka of the coyote business, luring hopeful souls with whispers of American streets paved with gold, only to dump them into the hands of the very cartels he was supposed to be evading. Talk about a double whammy.

But Poporro wasn't just any fly-by-night smuggler. He craved legitimacy, the kind that comes with blending into a beachside margarita crowd. So, in 2021, he waltzed into Mexico, hoping to slip under the radar like a tequila shot at a fiesta. Little did he know, the welcome mat had more thorns than roses.

A joint operation worthy of a Hollywood heist movie (minus the explosions, but with added bureaucracy) snagged Poporro like a particularly smug marlin. Colombian, British, and Mexican intel worked together like a salsa trio, their rhythm tight, their moves smooth. Poporro, meanwhile, must have felt like a piñata at a bachelorette party – blindfolded, unsuspecting, and about to get pummeled by justice.

His capture may have been the grand finale, but the story itself is a telenovela of twists and turns. Poporro, you see, wasn't just a people smuggler. He was a narco-mullah, using migrants as unwitting mules for his cocaine empire. Imagine a backpacker unknowingly toting bricks of Bolivian marching powder instead of duty-free tequila – that was Poporro's modus operandi.

He wasn't picky about his clientele either. Colombians, Peruvians, even the occasional adventurous European – Poporro saw a dollar sign in every passport. His network stretched from Bogota's bustling streets to the sun-drenched shores of Cancun, then northwards to the Tijuana border, a human conveyor belt fueled by desperation and Poporro's insatiable greed.

But Poporro's reign of terror has met its tequila sunrise. His capture is a reminder that even in the sun-kissed playgrounds of paradise, crime doesn't get a free vacation. Justice, it seems, can wear flip-flops and still kick down the door. So, raise a glass (preferably sans narco-mullah-smuggled cocaine) to the downfall of Big Butt, a cautionary tale that proves even the smoothest operators can trip over their own inflated egos. And remember, if your dream vacation involves a one-way ticket to America courtesy of a portly Colombian with a questionable nickname, maybe reconsider. The margaritas might be tempting, but the hangover could be a killer.