Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Amado Carrillo Fuentes
(December 17, 1956 – July 3, 1997), was a Mexican drug lord who seized control of The Juarez Cartel after assassinating his boss Rafael Aguilar Guajardo. Amado Carrillo became known as "El Señor de Los Cielos" (Lord of the Skies) because of the large fleet of jets he used to transport drugs. He was also known for laundering over US $20 million via Colombia to finance his huge fleet of planes. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration described Carrillo as the most powerful drug trafficker of his era.

He died in a Mexican hospital after undergoing extensive plastic surgery to change his appearance. In his final days Carrillo was being tracked by Mexican and U.S. authorities. He is regarded as one of the wealthiest criminals in history, with an estimated net-worth of US$ 25 billion.

Family relations and alliancesEdit

Carrillo was born to Vicente Carrillo and Aurora Fuentes in Guamuchilito, Navolato Sinaloa. He was the first of six sons: Amado, Cipriano, Vicente, José Cruz, Alberto, and Rodolfo. He also had five sisters: María Luisa, Berthila, Flor, Alicia and Aurora. These children were the nieces and nephews of Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, a/k/a "Don Neto", the Guadalajara Cartel leader. Amado got his start in the drug business under the tutelage of his uncle Ernesto. Amado later brought in his brothers and eventually his son Vicente Carrillo Leyva.

Carrillo's father, Vicente Carrilo Vega, died in April 1986; his brother, Cipriano Carillo Fuentes, died in 1989 under mysterious circumstances. On September 11, 2004, rivals of The Juarez Cartel killed brother Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes "El Niño de Oro" and his wife Giovanna Quevedo Gastélum.


Carrillo was believed to be a part of the Guadalajara Cartel, sent to Ojinaga, Chihuahua to oversee his uncle's cocaine shipments, and to learn about border operations from Pablo Acosta Villarreal "El Zorro de Ojinaga" (The Ojinaga Fox).

As the top drug trafficker in Mexico, Carrillo was transporting four times more cocaine to the U.S. than any other trafficker in the world, building a fortune of over US$25 billion. He was called "El Señor de los Cielos" (The Lord of the Skies) for his pioneering use of over 27 private Boeing 727 jet airliners to transport Colombian cocaine to municipal airports and airstrips around Mexico. In the months before his death, Carrillo's business was growing exponentially: his cartel was shipping multi-ton shipments directly into Manhattan, and million dollar payments to Carrillo were seized at the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez border. During that time, Carrillo was frequently travelling in his private jets to Cuba, Russia, and other nations in search of a safe haven. He had been hunted by law enforcement since he took over the cartel in April 1993 after the death of Rafael Aguilar Guajardo.

Credited by anti-drug agents as being one of the most low-key, sophisticated, and diplomatic of Mexico's cartel chiefs —he even formed joint operating agreements with rival trafficking groups— Carrillo's growing empire and alleged connection to General Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo, Mexico's top drug enforcement official, earned him recognition as "the most powerful of Mexico's drug traffickers" by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Death and conspiracy theoriesEdit

The pressure to capture Carrillo intensified among U.S. and Mexican authorities, and perhaps for this reason, Carrillo underwent facial plastic surgery and liposuction of his abdomen to change his appearance on July 3, 1997 at Santa Mónica Hospital in Mexico City. However, during the eight-hour operation, he apparently died of complications caused either by a medication or a malfunctioning respirator. Two of Carrillo's bodyguards were in the operating room during the procedure. It is unclear whether the lethal dose of the drug Dormicum was administered intentionally or in error, by the anaesthetist or the bodyguards.

On November 7, 1997, the bodies of the two physicians who performed the surgery on Fuentes were found dead, encased in concrete inside steel drums, with their bodies showing signs of torture.

Some fringe theories reported in Mexican newspapers hold that Carrillo's bodyguards smothered him with a pillow; or that the PGR tortured him to death first, then faked the plastic surgery; or, as was reported in El Financiero, the corpse was really that of Amado's cousin; or, perhaps the most unusual version, reported by respected radio and TV journalist Pedro Ferriz de Con, was that Carrillo committed suicide, according to an interview where Carillo allegedly said, "If I die, nobody killed me. The only person who can kill Amado Carrillo is Amado Carrillo."

The DEA confirmed the body belonged to Amado Carrillo four days after his alleged death, using fingerprints positively matched to an old U.S. immigration card. Authorities from the PGR disputed the accuracy of this method, claiming they could not confirm the body as Carrillo's until further toxicological, DNA, and other tests. Finally, on July 11, the PGR announced that the body was that of Carrillo, based on forensic tests including DNA, fingerprints, blood samples, scars, and ear shapes. However, PGR officials were still not sure if the death was caused by homicide or medical malpractice. As of July 22, 2007 officials were still debating whether it was the Dormicum, accidentally or intentionally administered, or the respirator. The PGR began an investigation, beginning with Carrillo's surgeon, Pedro López Saucedo, to determine the degree of responsibility of Santa Mónica Hospital in the drug lord's death.

Juárez cartel after CarrilloEdit

After Carrillo's death, it was assumed that control of the cartel would fall to Amado's brother Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, who was already overseeing operations in Juárez. Two other brothers work for the cartel, but DEA authorities said it would be unusual for there to be in-fighting among the organization. U.S. DEA chief Thomas Constantine and Mexican drug enforcement agents said they predicted a bloody battle among rival trafficking groups seeking to expand their own turf. They expected the Juárez Cartel's fiercest challenger to be rival cartel The Tijuana Cartel, allegedly led by the Arellano Félix brothers. Other major drug traffickers expected to vie for power, included Jesus "Chuy" Amezcua Contreras and Miguel Caro-Quintero.

On July 1997 U.S. and Mexican officials believed Sinaloa native Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno would emerge as the leader of The Juarez Cartel. Esparragoza is known as a diplomatic trafficker with solid connections to Colombian cocaine suppliers. In the weeks following confirmation of Carrillo's death, there were five to a dozen drug-related assassinations in Ciudad Juárez. Intelligence officials say key drug traffickers met in heavily secured, back-room bunkers at Juárez strip clubs to sort out business.

On the night of 3 August 1997 at around 9:30 p.m., four drug traffickers walked into a restaurant in Ciudad Juárez, pulled out their guns, and opened fire at 5 diners, killing them instantly. Police estimated that more than 100 bullet castings were found at the crime scene. According to a report issued by Los Angeles Times, four men went to the restaurant carrying at least two AK-47 assault rifles while others stood at the doorstep. On their way out, the gunmen claimed another victim. The victim was Armando Olague, a prison official and off-duty law enforcement officer who was gunned down outside the restaurant after he had walked from a nearby bar to investigate the shootout. Reportedly, Olague had run into the restaurant from across the street with a gun in his hand to check out the commotion. It was later determined that Armando Olague was also a known lieutenant of the cartel the Juarez. The Mexican authorities declined to comment on the motives behind the killing but stated that the shootout was not linked to the death of Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Nonetheless, it was later stated the perpetrators were gunmen of The Tijuana Cartel. Although confrontations between narcotraficantes were commonplace in Ciudad Juárez, they rarely occurred in public places. What happened in the restaurant back in 1997 threatened to usher in a new era of border crime in the city.

In Juárez, the PGR seized warehouses they believed the cartel used for storage of weapons and cocaine. PGR agents seized over 60 properties all over Mexico that belonged to Carrillo, and begun an investigation into his dealings with the police and government officials.Officials also froze bank accounts amounting to $10 billion dollars belonging to Carrillo. In April 2009, Mexican authorities arrested his son, Vicente Carrillo Leyva.


Carrillo was given a large and expensive funeral in Guamuchilito, Sinaloa. In 2006, Governer Eduardo Bours asked the federal government to tear down Carrillo's mansion in Hermosillo, Sonora. The mansion, dubbed "The Palace of a Thousand and One Nights" still sits unoccupied.