For years, El Coss managed the Gulf Cartel’s security, including the Zetas, the former armed wing of the group. He rose to the top after the arrest of famed Gulf boss Osiel Cardenas Guillen in 2003.
His fearless approach and legendary temper have got him into many difficult situations. In November 1999, he was part of an armed group that stopped and held several US federal agents at gunpoint. He released them, but the incident earned him his first indictment in the United States.
By 2007, he was reportedly communicating with the Zetas via telephone rather than meeting with them in person. In 2010, the Gulf Cartel murdered a top member of the Zetas, and the group sought retribution. When El Coss refused to hand over the killer, the Zetas declared war, and since then the northeastern states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila have become some of the most violent in Mexico.
El Coss was arrested on 12 September, 2012, in the Gulf Cartel stronghold of Tamaulipas. The US had offered a $5 million reward for information on his whereabouts.