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Former drug lord whose story features in Netflix series Narcos: Mexico under house arrest

Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo whose gang was responsible for the 1985 death of DEA agent Kiki Camarena has been behind bars since 1989

Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo and how he is portrayed by Diego Luna in the Netflix show

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

An infamous aging former drug lord who is portrayed in the hit Netflix series Narcos: Mexico is to spend the rest of his days under house arrest.

Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo whose gang was responsible for the 1985 death of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Kiki Camarena has been behind bars since 1989.

Known as “The Boss of the Bosses” and “The Godfather,” the 76-year-old was already serving a 40-year jail term handed down in 1989 by a judge for offenses including racketeering, possessing a handgun, and bribery.

But it wasn’t until 2017 that a judge sentenced him to 37 years in prison after finding him guilty of killing the special agent.

However, a judge of the Seventh District of Federal Criminal Proceedings court authorised last week that the remainder of his sentence be carried out inside of his house due to Gallardo’s ill health.

This means he will still have to serve out the remainder of his term for the murder of Camarena even if his sentences for racketeering, possessing a handgun, and bribery finish in 2029.

A prior request to complete the remainder of his sentence at home was denied by a Mexico City court February 20, 2019.

In an August 2021 jail house interview with Telemundo, Gallardo complained about his failing health, claiming “half of my body (is) paralyzed”.

He lost vision in his right eye and is deaf in his left ear. In addition, he has undergone eight hernia removal surgeries. He also injured his arm during a fall inside prison.

Gallardo was a judicial police officer at the age of 17 and was assigned as an escort to the then governor of Sinaloa, Leopoldo Sánchez Celi.

He later become involved in drug trafficking and in the late 1970's together with Rafael Caro Quintero , the 'Narco de Narcos', and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo , 'Don Neto', formed the Guadalajara Cartel, the first criminal organisation that controlled the drug transfer routes in Mexico.

He also groomed some of Mexico’s most powerful drug lords like Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, Amado Carrillo Fuentes who is also known as ‘The Lord of the Skies,’ Héctor Luis ‘El Güero’ Palma Salazar and his nephews, the Arellano-Félix brothers.

By the 1980s, the Guadalajara Cartel was identified by the DEA as the largest distributor of marijuana in Mexico and North America while Gallardo had managed to establish contacts with Colombian drug traffickers.

His fall came in 1985, when DEA agent Enrique 'Kiki' Camarena, who infiltrated the Guadalajara Cartel was kidnapped.

The cartel sought revenge on Camarena after the Mexican military raided a 2,500-acre marijuana plantation in 1984.

Mexican pilot Alfredo Zavala, who was employed by the Mexican government and the DEA, was kidnapped the same day in a separate incident.

The tortured bodies of Camarena and Zavala were located on March 5, 1985, wrapped in plastic and dumped at an abandoned property in La Angostura, a city in the state of Michoacán.

Their deaths prompted the US agency to launch ‘Operation Legend’ to dismantle the Guadalajara Cartel.

In April 1989, Gallardo was arrested in a luxurious house on Cosmos Street in Guadalajara in what was considered a major strike in the fight against drug trafficking.

After years of outwitting the police, 'The boss of bosses' who was 43 years old, turned himself in unopposed.

The capo was sentenced to 37 years in prison for the murder of the former DEA agent, in addition to the 40 year-sentence for crimes such as stockpiling weapons, bribery, crimes against health, homicide, drug trafficking and money laundering.

Félix Gallardo has always distanced himself from Camarena’s killing.

He once told Telemundo. “I’m not aware why they’ve linked me to that crime. I never met that man. Let me reiterate: I’m not into weapons. I’m really sorry because I know he was a good man.”


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