A drug trafficker whose name is synonymous with the Juárez Cartel was sentenced to 28 years in prison on Tuesday.
The federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR) said it obtained a sentence against Vicente Carillo Fuentes for the organized crime offenses of drug trafficking, operations with resources of illicit origin and the stockpiling of firearms.
Nicknamed “The Viceroy,” Carillo led the Juárez Cartel – also known as the Vicente Carillo Fuentes Organization – from 1997 until his arrest in 2014.
He is the brother of Amado Carillo Fuentes, a former drug lord known as “The Lord of the Skies” because of the large fleet of aircraft he used to transport drugs.
Carillo took control of the notoriously violent cartel after his brother died during a botched plastic surgery procedure.
He developed a complex financial structure to launder drug money while at the helm of the cartel, which grew quickly under the leadership of his brother and established itself as one of the most powerful and violent criminal organizations in the country.
Prior to his arrest in Torreón, Coahuila, in October 2014, a reward of up to US $5 million was on offer in the United States for information leading to his capture.
A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) webpage, which states that Carillo is wanted in the United States for “conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to deliver,” remains online. It also says that the former police officer occasionally traveled to El Paso, Texas, the main entry point to the United States for drugs smuggled by the Ciudad Juárez-based cartel.
An indictment charging Carillo with running a criminal enterprise, firearms offenses, money laundering and other drug-related crimes was filed in a U.S. federal court in October 2019.
“According to the superseding indictment, between January 1990 and October 2014, Carrillo Fuentes was responsible for the importation into the United States, and distribution of, hundreds of tons of cocaine,” the DEA said at the time.
“To ensure the success of his cartel, he employed individuals to obtain transportation routes and warehouses to import and store narcotics, and sicarios, or hitmen, to carry out kidnappings and murders in Mexico to retaliate against rivals who threatened the cartel.”
The DEA also said that Carillo and the Juárez Cartel were closely aligned with the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, until 2004.
“Those cartels shared investments in drug shipments, transportation infrastructure and contacts with corrupt government officials to facilitate the transfer of drugs through Mexico. The millions of dollars generated from the drug sales were then transported back to Mexico,” it said.
The two cartels later engaged in a bloody turf war that weakened the Vicente Carillo Fuentes Organization and turned Ciudad Juárez into one of the most violent cities in the world.
Carillo was held in preventative custody after his 2014 arrest. In 2018, he was a signatory to a letter to federal authorities that complained about the high prices of snacks and other products in prisons.
His 28-year-sentence takes the years he has already spent in jail into account. The 58-year-old is currently being held in a federal prison in Oaxaca, according to media reports.
The Juárez Cartel remains active, but the power it wields is greatly diminished compared to its heyday under The Viceroy’s leadership.
With reports from El País