|Founded by||Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, Rafael Caro Quintero, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, Juan José Esparragoza Moreno|
|Founding location||Guadalajara, Mexico|
|Criminal activities||Drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion, murder, torture and arms trafficking.|
The Guadalajara Cartel (Spanish: Cártel de Guadalajara) was a Mexican drug cartel which was formed in the 1980s by Rafael Caro Quintero, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo in order to ship cocaine and marijuana to the United States. Among the first of the Mexican drug trafficking groups to work with the Colombian cocaine mafias, the Guadalajara cartel prospered from the cocaine trade.
According to some writers, like Peter Dale Scott, the Guadalajara Cartel prospered largely because it enjoyed the protection of the Mexican DFS intelligence agency, under its chief Miguel Nazar Haro.
History and legacy
Félix Gallardo, a former federal police officer, started working for drug traffickers brokering corruption of state officials, and his partners in the Cartel, Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, who previously worked in the Avilés criminal organization, took control of the trafficking routes after Avilés was killed in a shootout with the police.
Juan Matta-Ballesteros was the Guadalajara Cartel primary connection to the Colombian cartels, he had originally introduced Felix Gallardo's predecessor, Alberto Sicilia-Falcon to Santiago Ocampo of the Cali Cartel, the head of one of the largest U.S. cocaine smuggling rings. Rather than taking cash payments for their services, the smugglers in the Guadalajara cartel took a 50% cut of the cocaine they transported from Colombia. This was extremely profitable for them, with some estimating that the trafficking network, then operated by Felix Gallardo, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, and Caro Quintero was pulling in $5 billion annually.
After the arrest of Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo ("Don Neto"), Félix Gallardo kept a low profile and in 1987 he moved with his family to Guadalajara city. Félix "The Godfather" Gallardo then decided to divide up the trade he controlled as it would be more efficient and less likely to be brought down in one law enforcement swoop. In a way, he was privatizing the Mexican drug business while sending it back underground, to be run by bosses who were less well known or not yet known by the DEA. Félix Gallardo convened the nation's top drug narcos at a house in the resort of Acapulco where he designated the plazas (turfs) or territories. The Tijuana route would go to his nephews, the Arellano Félix brothers. The Ciudad Juárez route would go to the Carrillo Fuentes family, headed by the nephew of Fonseca Carrillo, Amado Carrillo. Miguel Caro Quintero would run the Sonora corridor. Control of the Matamoros, Tamaulipas corridor – then becoming the Gulf Cartel - would be left undisturbed to Juan García Ábrego. Meanwhile, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera and Ismael Zambada García would take over Pacific coast operations, becoming the Sinaloa Cartel. Guzmán and Zambada brought veteran Héctor Luis Palma Salazar back into the fold. Félix Gallardo still planned to oversee national operations, he had the contacts so he was still the top man, but he would no longer control all details of the business; he was arrested on April 8, 1989.
It is also believed that Amado Carrillo Fuentes was once a part of the Guadalajara Cartel, but he was sent to Ojinaga, Chihuahua to oversee the cocaine shipments of his uncle, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, and to learn about border operations from Pablo Acosta Villarreal, "El Zorro de Ojinaga" (The Ojinaga Fox). Once Acosta and his successor Rafael Aguilar Guajardo were murdered, Carrillo took over the control of the Juárez Cartel. At present, these factions, or remnants of them, are battling each other for control of trafficking routes, influence over the Mexican government, and in retaliation for past offenses and betrayals. This conflict is known as the Mexican Drug War.
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