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Félix Gallardo the narco, left, and the prisoner, right. Félix Gallardo the narco, left, and the prisoner, right.

1980s ‘Godfather’ sentenced to 37 years

Guadalajara Cartel founder sentenced for 1985 murder of US drug agent

A federal judge sentenced a drug lord known as “the Godfather” and “the Boss of Bosses” to 37 years yesterday for killing a United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent in Mexico in 1985.

Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo has already served 28 years of a 40-year prison sentence that had been reversed in a previous ruling. It is a case that has dragged on for years in Mexican courts, and one of the longest judicial proceedings in Mexican criminal history, the Los Angeles Times reported.

And authorities say more appeals are possible.

Félix Gallardo was also ordered to pay reparation of 20.8 million pesos (around US $1.17 million), presumably to the victims’ families.

The former drug lord was found guilty of the intentional homicide of DEA agent Enrique Camarena Salazar and Mexican pilot Alfredo Zavala. Camarena was abducted in Guadalajara, Jalisco, and subsequently tortured before being murdered.

Born in Culiacán, Sinaloa, in 1946, Félix Gallardo became a cocaine tsar.

For a time in his younger years he worked as a police officer and as a private bodyguard for the children of a former governor of Sinaloa.

But soon after he changed sides.

An heir of the trafficking empire built by feared drug lord Pedro Avilés, Félix Gallardo co-founded the Guadalajara Cartel with Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca and went on to become one of the most powerful capos in the country.

He formed alliances with Medellín Cartel leader Pablo Escobar and Honduran trafficker Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros, who brought the two together.

While the trafficking business flourished for years, all three leaders eventually ended up behind bars.

On February 7, 1985 Félix Gallardo, Caro Quintero and Fonseca abducted the Mexican-born DEA agent nicknamed “El Kiki” allegedly with the intention of torturing him. Investigations into his death found that the beating he received was so harsh it caused his death.

Félix Gallardo’s freedom came to an abrupt end four years later when he was arrested in Guadalajara in April 1989.

However, such was his power that he continued to manage operations from within prison for a period but his rule finished when he was transferred to a maximum-security facility in the state of México.

Caro Quintero and Fonseca have also served prison sentences in relation to the crime but Caro Quintero was released in 2013 after an appeal on jurisdictional grounds overturned his conviction.

A warrant was subsequently issued for his re-arrest but he remains at large.

Félix Gallardo will remain in a federal penitentiary in Morelos.

Source: Milenio (sp), Los Angeles Times (en), ABC News (en), El Universal (sp), CNN Expansión (sp)

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