Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo appeared in a wheelchair in the high-security area of the Punte Grande State Prison in Jalisco. It was an afternoon in early August, and he was coming in from the prison’s medical ward. His left arm is in the mold since he fell a few weeks ago. He has lost sight in one eye and is deaf in his left ear.
Those last two conditions made the interview a bit difficult, so he had to write questions on the poster board to read.
“I’m half paralyzed”Says Felix Gallardo, 75, founder of the Guadalajara Cardinal, one of the first drug trafficking organizations in Mexico. Some traces of the man who was considered one of the most powerful criminal leaders in the world in the 1980s remain.
[Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo rompe su silencio: vea la primera parte de la entrevista exclusiva al ‘Jefe de jefes’]
“My health is bad. My family makes a hole to bury me in the tree. There is no prediction for life because I have lost everything, I have lost my consciousness, my ears, my eyes ”, the man, known as the‘ boss of the bosses ’, complained about the health ailments he has experienced in recent years.
The first question is, why did he decide to give an interview so many years later. This is a big question because it took me five years to meet him. I first contacted one of his lawyers in Mexico City in April 2016.
It took five years and four months to deal with it.
“This is the first time I have given an interview, You are asking me why I am interviewing you because of your struggle and your willingness to fight, ”he commented. He knows better than anyone that I have not stopped forcing myself in all these years.
[Estados Unidos designa como capo del narcotráfico a Lucio Rodríguez Serrano, amigo de Caro Quintero]
A corpse that breathes
Felix Gallardo was arrested in April 1989 and sentenced to 32 years in prison in Mexico. In 2017, he was sentenced to 37 years in prison for his involvement in the case Assassination of DEA agent Enrique ‘Kiki’ Kamarena Salazar. Among other charges, he was charged with weapons, bribery, crimes against health and murder. He was also convicted of crimes such as drug trafficking and money laundering.
According to many experts, what he played The longest trial in the history of Mexico lasted more than 28 years Finally, in 2017, he was convicted of the murders of Kamarena Salazar and Mexican pilot Alfredo Savala Aveler.
In various judicial and educational investigations, his image has been closely linked to the beginnings of major drug trafficking organizations in Mexico. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and several analysts, Felix Gallardo co-founded the organization with Ernesto Fonseca Guerrero and Rafael Carro Quintero.
All three were convicted of complicity in the kidnapping, torture and murder of Kamarena SalazarBut only Felix Gallardo is being held in a prison center.
[Rafael Caro Quintero se convierte en el narco mexicano más buscado por la DEA: así cambió la lista de fugitivos]
Drug trafficking raises violence and conflict rates in Mexico, the Mexican government raised in 2019 The number of missing is 60,053 A total of 34,515 homicides were recorded during the war and 2020 alone. According to organizations like Criminal Stoplight 80% of those murders were executions Conducted by drug trafficking groups.
Many things have been said about Felix Gallardo, a businessman who has a lot of money in Guadalajara, and even politicians, governors and public officials attended his parties.
Recently Narcos: Mexico, A TV series, talked about his life. He portrayed him as the creator of the Guadalajara Cardinal Was the first drug trafficker to build a bridge between South America and the United States For cocaine exports, he had to negotiate with Colombian drug traffickers like Pablo Escobar. The screen even shows him as a man with brilliant and innovative ideas who was able to combine different criminal systems into a consortium of drug traffickers.
[Los negocios del Cártel de Sinaloa van viento en popa, aunque ‘El Chapo’ esté en prisión]
In popular culture, almost everyone knows that the nickname ‘Leader of the Leaders’ belongs to him, although it is not clear that most people associate the song of Tigres del Norde with this drug lord. His name is still found on T-shirts and as soon as the first big bosses are mentioned, his name comes up.
When Felix Gallardo was a 28-year-old prisoner, he was sentenced to 37 years in prison in Jalisco for the murder of Kamarena Salazar. In theory, since 2017 he has been paying for that sentence. That is why he hopes to lose all illusions and die in prison.
“32 years have passed. This is an eternity for a man who has committed no crime,” he says sadly.
This is the first interview Felix Gallardo has given during his long sentence.
– How was your life in prison?
“I’m not going to talk … because we were all treated badly.” In other words, no visits, no call centers, no lawyers. I don’t even know why. Very unfortunate.
– How was your capture in 1989?
-I was at a house in the Cosmos in Guadalajara. When they knock on the door without any arrest warrant, without any presentation, [estaba] With my family. My daughter, my son there. Within a minute I was beaten and pulled out … four ribs were broken. I asked why and I only got more torture. I got a bag of suffocation, ‘Tehwagans’, blowing. This is my torture.
-Enrik ‘Kiki’ Kamarena Salazar, you were sentenced to almost 40 years in prison for the murder of a DEA agent …
– This is a very sad thing. This Mr. Camerena, who they are, who they are, imprisoned subject teachers and intellectuals, who gave their lives in prison and did very badly. I do not know why he is related to me because I do not know the man. I am not a gun person. I’m so sorry because I know he’s a good man.
“Would you say something to Agent Camerana’s widow?”
– I want you to resign, you have the satisfaction that the perpetrators are paying for their mistakes.
– What was your relationship with Caro Quintero and Fonseka Carrillo?
– I don’t know them. We never met on the street. These people and I never talked about it.
-Currently a TV series talks about his life and portrays him as a drug smuggler, opening the Coco routes from South America to the United States and portraying Pablo Escobar as the cocaine king.
– I do not know that person. This person you refer to me. As the series says I have never been to Medellin or Galle. I do not know him (…) When I was in prison, he died.
No jar, nothing like that. The cartels were never in Guadalajara. Now who knows. Has never been. In other words, we had a family life. I took my kids to school.
– Do you recognize the character appearing in the series?
-No. Miguel Felix Gallardo is an honest man.
– You’ve spent many years in prison, have you ever thought of escaping?
“A leak never crossed my mind.”
“What did you do before you were arrested?”
– I have dedicated myself to agriculture and livestock since I was a child. My parents first exported pulses to the United States in 1942. I was born in ’46. I go back 76 years. It had a pharmacy and two old hotels.
– Are you upset about something?
“I don’t have to regret it because I didn’t do anything wrong.” I did not attend such an event.
“What do you want to do if you want to regain your freedom one day?”
– I lost more than half of my family in prison: a daughter, my parents … my mother died without her furniture being returned to her, her furniture! I don’t think about freedom. I think of my grandchildren.
– Do you believe you will get out of jail?
– No (…) I was cut from the stomach. Eight hernias were removed. They lost my life, they lost my ears, as you can see, I can not walk. I can’t wait. Of course! We all believe in miracles, but …
– With the amnesty of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for prisoners over the age of 75, do you believe you will benefit from that move?
“I’m not looking for it.” I know that the President has a good heart to fight against social inequality. He retires, he gives so many things, I will not take his time.
A corpse that I could not wait to be buried in the root of a tree. I did not ask the Lord for anything. Conversely, hopefully and it goes well. This bacterium greatly reduced the purchasing power of Mexico, but this man is in good spirits and God will help him.
– How do you see violence in the country?
Violence is the result of unemployment and social inequality, which Mr. Lopez Obrador addresses little by little. You have to give it time.
How would you like to remember?
-I have always been an honest person, an unarmed man.
Journalist Albinson Linares collaborated on writing this story.
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