Mexico Re-Arrests Former Sinaloa Cartel Chief

Published: 16 July 2021

Héctor Luis Palma SalazarHéctor Luis Palma Salazar. His acquittal was considered a national embarrassment for Mexico. (Photo: U.S. Government, Wikimedia, License)

By David Klein

Mexican authorities announced that they have overturned the acquittal of former Sinaloa cartel leader Hector Luis Palma Salazar, who ruled the syndicate alongside his childhood friend Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman from the late 1980s until his arrest in 1995. 

During that time, Palma, also known as “El Guero,” gained notoriety for his close and corrupt relationship with Mexico's Federal Judicial Police, using his connections to evade capture and secure the release or light sentencing of Sinaloa cartel members. 

Mexico extradited him to the U.S. where he spent nine years in prison before being sent back to Mexico in 2016, where he was charged for the 1995 killing of two police officers and put in the Altiplano maximum security prison. 

However, in late April, a lower court acquitted Palma, arguing that his trial was a case of double jeopardy. That ruling was overturned on Monday by a higher appellate court and Palma was transferred back to Altiplano. 

The April acquittal was considered a national embarrassment for Mexico under the administration of president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has consistently been accused of being soft on the cartels.