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Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, known as Don Neto Don Neto flashes the peace sign in an undated photo.

Don Neto goes from jail cell to luxury digs

Former cartel leader will serve remainder of sentence under house arrest

A veteran Mexican drug lord who pioneered smuggling cocaine into the United States has gone from a dark and damp prison cell to a luxury home in the State of México.

A founder of the Guadalajara Cartel, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, known as Don Neto, will serve the remainder of a 40-year sentence in Valle Escondido, a classy residential development in Atizapán de Zaragoza where house prices average 11 million pesos, or US $586,000.

The former cartel boss has already served 31 years for the 1985 kidnapping and murder of Enrique Camarena, an agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Camarena’s death, according to InSight Crime, spelled the end of the cartel. It prompted the U.S. to put pressure on Mexican authorities to act, the cartel leaders fled and the remaining factions established bases in various parts of Mexico.

The Arellano Félix brothers set up in Tijuana, the Carrillo Fuentes family in Ciudad Juárez and Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán remained in Sinaloa.

But Fonseca and fellow cartel leader Rafael Caro Quintero were charged and convicted in the DEA agent’s killing, which was carried out in retaliation for a big drug bust by Mexican authorities working with the DEA.

Yesterday morning, Fonseca moved into his new digs, a far cry from the Puente Grande maximum-security jail in Jalisco, following an order by a federal judge that he be allowed to finish his time under house arrest.

His defense attorney had requested the order on the grounds of his age, of which no one appears certain as reports vary from 73 to 85.

Fonseca’s new home is located within a gated community that had 24-hour security before but has since been reinforced. Four Federal Police officers keep guard outside the house while their “prisoner” wears an electronic bracelet and security cameras monitor his every move.

Outside, increased police patrols keep an eye on everyone who enters the residential development, searching the trunks of visitors’ cars and keeping tabs on how long they intend to visit and ensuring they go directly to their destination without wandering around while inside.

Should Fonseca suffer a medical emergency, procedures have been drawn up to move him to a clinic or transfer him to a hospital by air ambulance.

He suffers from several ailments, according to his daughter. Yoanna Fonseca told Reuters that he might also have cancer.

A federal prisons official said the government did all it could to keep Fonseca in prison but a judge decided otherwise. “We exhausted all legal means at our disposal to stop him from leaving prison and completing his sentence under house arrest, but a judge decided to the contrary . . . .” said Eduardo Guerrero.

Source: Milenio (sp), Reuters (sp)

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