Sinaloa Cartel Co-Leader Dies of Heart Attack

Juan José Esparraoza Moreno,"El Azul", the veteran narco-trafficker and co-leader of the Sinaloa cartel along with Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and Ismael Zambada-Garcia, has reportedly died of a heart attack while convalescing from an accident he had about two weeks ago in which his vertebrae was injured. He was 65.

"El Azul" spent 40 years in the drug business, first with the Guadalajara cartel, then the Juarez cartel (where at one point he was second to Amado Carrillo Fuentes,aka Senor de los Cielos) before teaming up with El Chapo Guzman and Ismael Zambada-Garcia as leaders of the Sinaloa Federation. [More...]

He was jailed in Mexico from 1985 to 1992.

He was known as a conciliator and peace-maker who preferred avoiding violence. He kept a low profile and was well-respected in the narco world. In 2003, the U.S. added him to the drug kingpin list. In 2005, the FBI had him on its most-wanted list, second only to Osama bin Laden, and offering a $5 million reward for his capture. Interest in him faded after that, although in recent years, the U.S. has re-focused on his alleged ties to money laundering through his legitimate businesses, placing economic sanctions on several of his family members.

He is a fugitive defendant in a 2004 Indictment in the Western District of Texas.

He and his associates are also connected through their wives and childen:

Esparragoza married Guzman’s sister-in-law, and is the godfather of Amado Carrillo Fuentes’ son and one of Ismael Zambada’s sons. One of his sons is married to the daughter of one of the Beltran Leyvas.

After El Chapo's capture, many speculated El Azul or Zambada-Garcia would take control of Sinaloa. Others said they were too old, and either El Chapo's sons or El Mini-Lic (Damaso Lopez Serrano, son of Damaso Lopez Nunez, aka "El Licenciado") would inherit the top position. Sinaloa has never been a hierarchal organization, and it's more of a federation of organizations rather than a single cartel, so it's doubtful there will be one leader in the future. But with El Chapo in prison, El Azul now deceased, and Zambada-Garcia in hiding and his brother and two sons in custody, El Azul's passing does seem like the end of an era.

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    FWIW (none / 0) (#1)
    by NYShooter on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 09:13:27 AM EST
    I read the New Yorker article regarding Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman that you linked to about a month ago. I wasn't all that interested in that business up until then, but, once I read a couple of paragraphs, I couldn't stop reading until I finished.

    It sure puts a new, and fascinating, perspective on the drug business, and governments, throughout all of South America, and, actually, the world.

    Up until then I thought the movie, "Scarface," had been overdone with all its killing and "gratuitous" violence.

    Not anymore.

    The violence in "Scarface" was ... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 01:08:36 PM EST
    ... both stylized and meticulously choreographed, not unlike Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch." There's nothing that's at all stylish about the mayhem these guys cause. And to loosely paraphrase Tessio in "The Godfather," it's all business and rarely personal.