Problems, Problems, Problems

By Christopher Zoukis

Gallardo smelled a rat.  Something was fishy in Denmark.  A meeting was called.  All the major players arrived and discussed the situation.  Later, another meeting was held.  All evidence pointed to Kike.

Kike and his pilot, Alfredo Zavala Avelar, were leaving the American consulate building in Guadalajara, when five gangsters attacked them, threw jackets over their heads, and tossed them into a waiting Volkswagen van.  One month later, the bodies of Kike and Avelar were discovered hundreds of miles away, in Michoacan.  The corpses were decomposing, hands and legs still bound.  Obviously, both men had been tortured and mercilessly beaten; a stick had been inserted in Kike’s rectum.  Autopsy revealed that Kike had died when his skull was caved in by a blunt object.

Later, after an intensive investigation, the DEA discovered the five gangsters responsible for Kike’s abduction were not gangsters.  They were Jalisco police officers.  The five officers were arrested by the Federales and interrogated.  All five officers confessed their part in the kidnapping, signing written confessions.  The confessions resulted in the arrest of eleven more individuals.  Warrants were issued for Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Carrillo.  Rumor had it that Quintero was behind the killing of Aviles Perez, whose death allowed Felix Gallardo to take control of Perez’s drug kingdom.  The DEA pursued Quintero, who they found in Costa Rica.  Special Forces arrested Quintero and extradited him to Mexico, where he was interrogated.  Quintero’s interrogation didn’t take long; he spilled the beans, admitting he had planned the kidnappings.

The Mexican army found Ernesto Carrillo in Acapulco, where they arrested him.  Carrillo also confessed to the kidnappings, but denied participation in Kike’s torture and murder.  Eventually, the DEA pinpointed a house in Guadalajara, where the two men had been tortured.  The DEA came away from the entire episode with a whole new understanding of the word ‘corruption.’k  Almost all of Mexico was either on the take or paying bribes; it was a cottage industry.  Evidence had been deliberately destroyed, obscured and withheld. 

Matta Ballesteros / Image courtesy

Meanwhile, Gallardo had to find a new source of money.  After the destruction of Rancho Bufalo, Gallardo’s revenue flow had all but stopped.  Gallardo hooked up with Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros, a curly-haired drug lord from Honduras.  Matta had his own revenue problems.  At the time, Matta was cozy with Pablo Escobar, the head of the Medellin Cartel.  Escobar was looking for a solution to his problem, the South Florida Task Force, which was making his business model more and more difficult.  Matta was tasked with the job of finding a new business model for the Medellin Cartel.

Matta, who was very charismatic, decided that Gallardo’s Sinaloan gang was the remedy to the Medellin Cartel’s problem.  The Mexicans knew how to move drugs across the border into the U.S.  The smuggling methods and routes were in place.  And the Sinaloans had the men and know-how to move lots of product.  All the Colombians had to do was give the coke to the Mexicans, who would then transport it into the U.S.  The border was 2,000 miles long, which meant it was very hard to effectively patrol.

Matta brokered a deal.  On their part, the Colombians would provide cocaine to the Sinaloans, who would transfer it north of the border.  Once in the U.S., the Colombian distributors would pick it up and sell it.  It was a win-win business deal.  The Colombians would move product and make money; the Sinaloans would smuggle and make money, lots of money, especially since Gallardo insisted on being paid cash for the services of his gang.