Héctor Luis Palma Salazar (a.k.a.: "El Güero Palma") is a former Mexican drug trafficker and leader of the Sinaloa Cartel alongside Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. Palma was arrested on June 23, 1995 and extradited to the United States, where he served a jail sentence until June 2016. He was then deported back to Mexico in June 2016, where he was charged with a double murder in 1995, in Nayarit.
Early life and career
Jesus Héctor Luis Palma Salazar was born in Noria de Abajo, Mocorito, Sinaloa, Mexico in the mid 1940s. He began his life of crime as a car thief and eventually worked as a gunman for Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, under the umbrella of the Guadalajara Cartel. Palma rose up the ranks, and along with Eduardo "El Lobito" Retamoza and Gallardo, became a Plaza boss for the Sinaloa territory in the cartel.
During his time of plaza boss he was shipping cocaine using the Tijuana Territory which was being ran by the Arellano Felix family. Palma along with Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzman would eventually form Sinaloa Cartel. , started having disagreement with Arellano Felix brothers in Tijuana, who later formed the Tijuana Cartel (also known as the Arellano Félix Organization). Around this time Palma's wife, Guadalupe Leija Serrano, began an affair with a Venezuelan named Rafael Enrique Clavel,who was a bodyguard for Cartel boss Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo and the one time boyfriend of Palma's sister Minerva Palma.
After a disagreement over rising tensions between Sinaloa and Tijuana, Felix ordered for Palma to be killed along with his family but failed and resulted in Palma hiding in Sinaloa and Guadalupe to hide in the state of Guerrero along with Clavel. Palma remained in hiding for over a year and learned of his wife's infidelity during his time in hiding. Felix learned of Guadalupe's location and ordered Clavel to kill Guadalupe and her children.
Clavel met with Guadalupe after receiving the order claiming Palma and her family were allowed to safely return to Sinaloa but pursuaded Guadalupe to withdraw US$7 million from a bank account so they could run away together, but later that day he decapitated her and shipped her head back to Palma. The two children, Jesús and Nataly, were taken to Venezuela and dropped off a bridge named Puente de la Concordia, on the border with Colombia.
Clavel soon afterward went to work for Gallardo in the Tijuana Cartel. In retaliation, Palma executed Gallardo's lawyer and Clavel's three children.
In 1978, Palma was arrested in Arizona for drug trafficking and sentenced to 8 years in a U.S. prison.
Palma returned to trafficking, this time within the Sinaloa Cartel, sharing leadership with Adrián Gómez González and Joaquín Guzmán Loera (El Chapo).
Palma was arrested in June 23, 1995, after a 12-seat Lear jet he was flying on to attend a wedding party crash-landed. He was traveling from Ciudad Obregón, Sonora to Guadalajara, Jalisco when the jet was diverted and unable to locate a new landing strip in time. Palma survived the crash-landing and was later arrested by Mexican military officers; he originally evaded capture by traveling in full uniform as a Federal Judicial Police (PJF) officer complete with identification and an armed caravan of PJF personnel.
After serving 9 years in a U.S. maximum-security prison, Palma was extradited back to Mexico in June 2016, where he was charged with a double murder of police officers in 1995, in Nayarit. He is currently incarcerated at the Altiplano Prison, near Mexico City.
Kingpin Act sanction
On 2 June 2003, the United States Department of the Treasury sanctioned Palma under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (sometimes referred to simply as the "Kingpin Act"), for his involvement in drug trafficking along with six other international criminals and three entities. The act prohibited U.S. citizens and companies from doing any kind of business activity with him, and virtually froze all his assets in the U.S.
Palma had managed to insert himself into the depths of the Mexican Federal Judicial Police (PJF), evading detection by posing as one in complete uniform, with identification, and traveling in a heavily armed caravan of PJF officers. It was later discovered he was able to evade capture by staying at the home of the local police commander.
The corruption within the police force has been documented to have spread to the judicial system. By bribing judges, the Sinaloa Cartel has evaded prosecution repeatedly. In 2004, 18 men were arrested in possession of 28 machine guns, 2 hand guns, 223 magazines, 10k rounds of ammunition, 12 grenade launchers, 18 hand grenades, smoke grenades, and bulletproof vests. The men were set free by Judge Jose Luis Gomez Martinez, who stated there was no evidence they were part of any criminal organization.