Juan José Esparragoza Moreno
|Juan José Esparragoza Moreno|
February 3, 1949 |
Huichiopa, Badiraguato, Sinaloa, Mexico
|Occupation||Leader of Sinaloa Cartel|
Juan José Esparragoza Moreno (born February 3, 1949) a.k.a. El Azul (English: "The Blue"), is a former Mexican Federal Judicial Police (PJF) officer turned drug trafficker. He is one of the three current leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, along with Joaquín Guzmán Loera and Ismael Zambada García. Esparragoza was born in Huichiopa, in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. Esparragoza's nickname, "El Azul", derives from his complexion. He is said to be so dark that his skin appears to be blue.
Esparragoza's trafficking career dates back to the Guadalajara Cartel under Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, Rafael Caro Quintero and Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo. Following the arrest of Gallardo, it is believed Esparragoza moved to the leadership role within the Guadalajara Cartel prior to its dissolution. Gallardo bestowed upon his nephews who operated the Juárez Cartel, the location and operations of the Guadalajara Cartel.
Esparragoza was believed to have had a role in the death of United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Enrique Camarena. In 1982, Camarena was informed of a large scale marijuana growing operation in which Carrillo, Esparragoza and Quintero, had turned 220 acres (0.89 km2) of land near San Luis Potosí into a marijuana field. The DEA began to do aerial reconnaissance and eventually committed to raiding the field, seizing 200 tons of marijuana. The DEA however failed to apprehend anyone, rumored to be due to a Judicial Police officer informing the cartel members of the pending operation.
Camarena, along with his pilot Alfredo Zavala, were kidnapped on February 7, 1985, tortured and murdered by the Guadalajara Cartel for his role in hindering their operations.
Esparragoza was arrested in 1986 by police commander Florentino Ventura, who flaunted openly that he was the one who put Esparragoza behind bars. Esparragoza served seven years in 'Reclusorio Sur' prison and was released. Soon after, commander Florentino Ventura and other of his captors were all killed.
Esparragoza is believed to have joined the Juárez Cartel (Carrillo Fuentes Organization) in 1993 where he operated as a top lieutenant and operations chief. Following the death of Amado Carrillo Fuentes during a plastic surgery procedure, Esparragoza was rumored to have assumed a leadership position alongside Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, brother to Amado, and Héctor Luis Palma Salazar. The cocaine and trafficking connection he created in Peru and Colombia are believed to have made him a primary leader in the Juárez Cartel.
In addition to cocaine contacts, Esparragoza is also known as a peace maker, forging alliances between other major cartels and resolving disputes. Most recently he has been linked to negotiating peace deals in Nuevo Laredo between the Juárez Cartel and Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano of Los Zetas as well as Jorge Eduardo Costilla of the Gulf Cartel.
The Federation / Sinaloa Alliance
Kingpin Act sanctions
The United States Department of the Treasury placed economic sanctions on nine entities and ten individuals linked to Esparragoza Moreno on 24 June 2012. In the statement, the United States froze the assets of the drug lord's family members, which consisted of several gas stations, a shopping center, a housing company, and other businesses. The Treasury blacklisted the ten individuals and prohibited U.S. companies from doing business with them. Six of the ten people sanctioned were family members of Esparragoza Moreno: two wives and four of his children. One of his wives, however, owned a property directly under his name. The other wife was sanctioned for owning seven gas stations on Esparragoza Moreno's behalf.
The Treasury called Esparragoza Moreno a "godfather of Mexican narcotics" who has used illicit money to build a network in the legitimate business. While other Mexican drug lords have sought for more attention, Esparragoza Moreno tried to keep a low-profile in hopes of avoiding detection. Mexican investigators, however, have expressed their frustrations in the announcements the United States makes on the kingpin act designations, because they say that U.S. officials do not provide the evidences necessary to prosecute the drug lords and their associates in Mexican courts.
- (Spanish) "Cuna de narcos se hunde en la miseria". El Universal. 20 February 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- Wanted by the FBI: JUAN JOSE ESPARRAGOZA-MORENO. FBI. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- "Mexico's most wanted traffickers, at $2 million". Associated Press. March 23, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
- Valdez, Diana Washington (2006). The Killing Fields: Harvest of Women. Peace at the Border. p. 120. ISBN 0-615-14008-4.
- Nash, Jay Robert. World Encyclopedia of Organized Crime. Da Capo Press. p. 155. ISBN 0-306-80535-9.
- Richards, James R. (1999). Transnational Criminal Organizations, Cybercrime, and Money Laundering: A Handbook for Law Enforcement Officers, Auditors, and Financial Investigators. CRC Press. p. 23. ISBN 0-8493-2806-3.
- "Leaders of Mexican Narcotics Cartel Added to Treasury Dept. List". United States Department of the Treasury. November 2, 2004.
- "‘El Azul’ discreto, platicador y gentil". El Universal (in Spanish). Domingo 15 de junio de 2008. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
- Rodriguez, Olga R. "Juarez drug gang forms alliances to control border". Associated Press Writer.
- "Organized Crime and Terrorist Activity in Mexico, 1999-2002" (PDF). Library of Congress. February 2003.
- Alfredo Corchado (June 25, 2007). "Mexican cartels in talks to split turf". The Dallas Morning News.
- Rubenfeld, Samuel (24 July 2012). "Treasury Targets Sinaloa Cartel Leader’s Corporate Network". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "U.S. sanctions target Mexican drug lord's wives, business network". Chicago Tribune. 24 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Stevenson, Mark (24 July 2012). "Sinaloa Capo Juan Jose Esparragoza's Kin On Drug Kingpin List". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "U.S. hits Mexican drug lord's relatives with sanctions". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. 24 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Treasury Targets Corporate Network of Sinaloa Cartel Drug Lord El Azul". United States Department of Treasury. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "US places relatives of Sinaloa cartel drug lord on kingpin list". The Washington Post. 24 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.