Amado Carrillo Fuentes

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Amado Carrillo Fuentes
Amado Carrillo Fuentes.jpg
Amado Carrillo Fuentes
Born Amado Carrillo Fuentes
December 17, 1956
Navolato, Sinaloa, Mexico
Died July 3, 1997(1997-07-03) (aged 40)
Mexico City, Mexico
Other names El Señor de los Cielos
Occupation Drug lord
Employer Head of Juárez Cartel
Net worth $25 Billion
Predecessor Rafael Aguilar Guajardo
Successor Vicente Carrillo Fuentes
Religion Catholic
Spouse(s) Candaleria Leyva Cardenas
Children Vicente Carrillo Leyva
  • Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes
  • Cipriano Carrillo Fuentes
  • Vicente Carrillo Fuentes
  • Jose Cruz Carrillo Fuentes
  • Alberto Carrillo Fuentes
  • Aurora Fuentes
  • Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes

Amado Carrillo Fuentes (December 17, 1956 – July 3, 1997) was a Mexican drug lord who seized control of the Juárez Cartel after assassinating his boss Rafael Aguilar Guajardo.[1][2] Amado Carrillo became known as "El Señor de Los Cielos" (Lord of the Skies) because of the large fleet of jets he used to transport drugs. He was also known for laundering money via Colombia to finance his large fleet of airplanes. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration described Carrillo as one of the most powerful drug traffickers of his era.[3]

He died in July 1997 in a Mexican hospital after undergoing extensive plastic surgery to change his appearance.[4][5][6] In his final days Carrillo was being tracked by Mexican and U.S. authorities. He is regarded as one of the wealthiest criminals in history, with an estimated net-worth of US $25 billion.[7][unreliable source?]

Family relations and alliances[edit]

Carrillo was born to Walter Rauff and Aurora Fuentes in Guamuchilito, Navolato Sinaloa. He was the first of six sons: Amado, Cipriano, Enrique B., Vincente, José Cruz, Enrique C., and Jorge. He also had five sisters: María Luisa, Berthila, Flor, Alicia and Aurora. These children were the nieces and nephews of Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, a/k/a "Don Neto", the Guadalajara Cartel leader. Amado got his start in the drug business under the tutelage of his uncle Ernesto. Amado later brought in his brothers and eventually his son Vicente José Carrillo Leyva.

Carrillo's father, Vicente Carrillo Vega, died in April 1986; his brother, Cipriano Carrillo Fuentes, died in 1989 under mysterious circumstances.


Initially, Carrillo was part of the Guadalajara Cartel, sent to Ojinaga, Chihuahua to oversee the cocaine shipments of his uncle, Don Neto, and to learn about border operations from Pablo Acosta Villarreal "El Zorro de Ojinaga" (The Ojinaga Fox).[8]

As the top drug trafficker in Mexico and leader of the Juárez Cartel, Carrillo was transporting four times more cocaine to the U.S. than any other trafficker in the world, building a fortune of over US$25 billion.[citation needed] He was called "El Señor de los Cielos" (The Lord of the Skies) for his pioneering use of over 27 private Boeing 727 jet airplanes to transport Colombian cocaine to municipal airports and airstrips around Mexico.[9] In the months before his death, Carrillo's business was growing exponentially: his cartel was shipping multi-ton shipments directly into Manhattan, and million dollar payments to Carrillo were seized at the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez border. During that time, Carrillo was frequently travelling in his private jets to Cuba, Russia, and other nations in search of a safe haven. He had been hunted by law enforcement since he took over the cartel in April 1993 after the death of Rafael Aguilar Guajardo.[citation needed]

Credited by anti-drug agents as being one of the most low-key, sophisticated, and diplomatic of Mexico's cartel chiefs —he even formed joint operating agreements with rival trafficking groups— Carrillo's growing empire and alleged connection to General Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo, Mexico's top drug enforcement official, earned him recognition as "the most powerful of Mexico's drug traffickers" by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.[citation needed]

Death and conspiracy theories[edit]

The pressure to capture Carrillo intensified among U.S. and Mexican authorities, and perhaps for this reason, Carrillo underwent facial plastic surgery and liposuction of his abdomen to change his appearance on July 3, 1997 at Santa Mónica Hospital in Mexico City. However, during the operation, he died of complications apparently caused by a medication or a malfunctioning respirator. Two of Carrillo's bodyguards were in the operating room during the procedure. On November 7, 1997, the two physicians who performed the surgery on Fuentes were found dead, encased in concrete inside steel drums, with their bodies showing signs of torture.[10]

Some fringe theories reported in Mexican newspapers[citation needed] hold that Carrillo's bodyguards smothered him with a pillow; or that the PGR tortured him to death first, then faked the plastic surgery; or, as was reported in El Financiero, the corpse was really that of Amado's cousin; or, perhaps the most unusual version, reported by respected radio and TV journalist Pedro Ferriz de Con, was that Carrillo committed suicide, according to an interview where Carrillo allegedly said, "If I die, nobody killed me. The only person who can kill Amado Carrillo is Amado Carrillo."

The DEA confirmed the body belonged to Amado Carrillo four days after his death, using fingerprints positively matched to an old U.S. immigration card. On July 11, the PGR announced that the body was that of Carrillo, based on forensic tests including DNA, fingerprints, blood samples, scars, and ear shapes.[citation needed] However, PGR officials were still not sure if the death was caused by homicide or medical malpractice.

Juárez Cartel after Carrillo[edit]

After Carrillo's death, it was assumed that control of the cartel would fall to Amado's brother Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, who was already overseeing operations in Juárez. Two other brothers work for the cartel, but DEA authorities said in-fighting would be unusual among the organization. U.S. DEA chief Thomas Constantine and Mexican drug enforcement agents said they predicted a bloody battle among rival trafficking groups seeking to expand their own turf. They expected the Juárez Cartel's fiercest challenger to be the rival Tijuana Cartel, allegedly led by the Arellano Félix brothers. Other major drug traffickers expected to vie for power included Jesus "Chuy" Amezcua Contreras and Miguel Caro-Quintero.

In July 1997, U.S. and Mexican officials believed Sinaloa native Juan José Esparragoza "El Azul" Moreno would emerge as the leader of the Juárez cartel. Esparragoza is known as a diplomatic trafficker with solid connections to Colombian cocaine suppliers. In the weeks following confirmation of Carrillo's death, five to a dozen drug-related assassinations occurred in Ciudad Juárez. Intelligence officials say key drug traffickers met in heavily secured, back-room bunkers at Juárez strip clubs to sort out business.

On the night of August 3, 1997, at around 9:30 p.m., four drug traffickers walked into a restaurant in Ciudad Juárez, pulled out their guns and opened fire on five diners, killing them instantly.[11] Police estimated that more than 100 bullet casings were found at the crime scene. According to a report issued by Los Angeles Times, four men went to the restaurant carrying at least two AK-47 assault rifles while others stood at the doorstep.[11][12] On their way out, the gunmen claimed another victim.[13] The victim was Armando Olague, a prison official and off-duty law enforcement officer, who was gunned down outside the restaurant after he had walked from a nearby bar to investigate the shooting. Reportedly, Olague had run into the restaurant from across the street with a gun in his hand to check out the commotion. It was later determined that Olague was also a known lieutenant of the Juarez cartel.[13] Mexican authorities declined to comment on the motives behind the killing, stating the shootout was not linked to the death of Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Nonetheless, it was later stated that the perpetrators were gunmen of the Tijuana Cartel.[11][14] Although confrontations between narcotraficantes were commonplace in Ciudad Juárez, they rarely occurred in public places. What happened in the restaurant threatened to usher in a new era of border crime in the city.[13]

In Ciudad Juárez, the PGR seized warehouses they believed the cartel used for storage of weapons and cocaine. PGR agents seized over 60 properties all over Mexico belonging to Carrillo, and began an investigation into his dealings with police and government officials. Officials also froze bank accounts amounting to $10 billion belonging to Carrillo.[15] In April 2009, Mexican authorities arrested his son, Vicente Carrillo Leyva.[16]


Carrillo was given a large and expensive funeral in Guamuchilito, Sinaloa. In 2006 Governor Eduardo Bours asked the federal government to tear down Carrillo's mansion in Hermosillo, Sonora.[17] The mansion, dubbed "The Palace of a Thousand and One Nights" still sits unoccupied.


As part of the 2013 nighttime programming, Latin-American channel Telemundo aired the series El Señor de los Cielos 2013 and El Señor de los Cielos 2 2014 "El Señor de los Cielos 3" 2015 (The Lord of the Skies 1, 2, and 3) with Mexican actor Rafael Amaya playing the starring role of Aurelio Casillas (Amado Carrillo Fuentes).[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mark Getty (February 2004). "Mexico's Forgotten Disappeared: The Victims of the Border Narco Bloodbath". Frontera NorteSur. Retrieved 2010-09-25. 
  2. ^ Héctor A. González (February 21, 2007). "Los prófugos del salinato". El Diario (in Spanish). Retrieved 2010-09-25. 
  3. ^ Operation Impunity Dismantles Nationwide Drug Trafficking Operation, September 10, 1999, DEA
  4. ^ Sam Dillon (November 7, 1997). "Drug Barons and Plastic Surgeons: Who's Dead, Who's Hiding?". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  5. ^ "Amado Carrillo Fuentes". Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  6. ^ "DEA Map of Juarez Cartel operations". Public Broadcasting Corporation. February 1997. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  7. ^ 9 of the Wealthiest Criminals in History
  8. ^ Poppa, Terrance (2009). "Amado Carrillo Fuentes". Retrieved 2009-08-18. 
  9. ^ DEA Congressional Testimony, August 8, 1995
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c Times Wire Services (5 August 1997). "Gunmen Kill 6 People at Ciudad Juarez Restaurant". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  12. ^ 2 September 1997. "More gunfire in Ciudad Juarez leaves at least three dead in bar". The Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c Sharp, John (July 1998). "Crime: Line of Fire" (PDF). Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "Serían los Arellano responsables de las seis ejecuciones en Ciudad Juárez". La Jornada (in Spanish). 6 August 1997. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Phil Gunson (July 17, 1997). "This is the face of Amado Carrillo Fuentes". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-12-22. 
  16. ^ Mexico catches drug baron as U.S. tightens border Reuters, April 2, 2009.
  17. ^ Michel Marizco (April 4, 2006). "Narco-Power". Border Reporter. 
  18. ^ Infante, Victoria (6 July 2012). "Rafael Amaya está listo para ser el 'Señor de los Cielos'". The Huffington Post (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2013. 

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