Jose Juan Esparragoza Jimenez

The captured son of Sinaloa Cartel leader "El Azul" has testified his father is dead, but his statement is unlikely to stamp out rumors the drug lord is still alive and well, in what could easily build into Mexico's next big narco-conspiracy. 

While pleading not guilty to drug trafficking charges, Jose Juan Esparragoza Jimenez, alias "El Cora," stated that he was the son of the "deceased" Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, alias "El Azul," reported Excelsior.

El Cora was arrested in Culiacan, Sinaloa on August 20 during a military operation and charged with drugs and weapons violations. According to the Interior Ministry, he belongs to a criminal group in Sinaloa state that produces methamphetamines, and traffics methamphetamines, cocaine, and marijuana to the United States, reported El Informador.

According to El Proceso, El Cora is El Azul's youngest son from his second marriage. The Attorney General's Office has yet to verify this. 

InSight Crime Analysis

News that El Azul had died of a heart attack while recovering from a car accident emerged this June, but his death has yet to be officially confirmed and rumors that he is still alive persist. Following the capture of "El Chapo" Guzman in February, El Azul became one of the Sinaloa Cartel's two remaining leaders -- along with Ismael Zambada Garcia, alias "El Mayo" -- a position that undoubtedly increased pressure from security forces. This could feasibly have prompted the aging drug lord to fake his death to ease the pressure or escape into retirement.

SEE ALSO: El Azul Profile

While these are nothing more than rumors at this time, El Azul's alleged death could become the latest addition to a series of similar narco-conspiracy theories -- at least one of which turned out to be true.

The original story of a drug lord faking his death involves Amado Carrillo -- known as the "Lord of the Skies" for his fleet of airplanes. Carillo's supposed death in 1997 from a reaction to anesthesia after undergoing plastic surgery has never been accepted by many. The rumors have been fuelled by strange occurrences, such as the brutal murder of the surgeons who operated on him.

Since then there have been several other rumored faked deaths, including that of El Azul's one time Sinaloa Cartel partner Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, alias "Nacho Coronel," who supposedly died in July 2010 but is also rumored to be alive and well.  

While the truth behind most of these stories will likely never be known, in the case of messianic drug lord and Familia Michoacana founder Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias "El Chayo," the conspiracy theories proved to be true. El Chayo was reported killed in a gun battle in 2010, but in reality continued to run operations in the state of Michoacan until he was actually killed in a shootout with security forces in March 2014.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

In the photograph, they are both smiling. In the foreground, on the left hand side, a man in a short-sleeved buttoned white shirt, jeans and a metal watch, holds a bottle of water in his right hand. He laughs heartily. He is Herbert Saca. On the right...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...