FGR Arrest Warrant Prevents Release of Drug Lord ‘El Güero’ Palma
By MARK LORENZANA
Mexico’s Attorney General of the Republic (FGR) on the morning of Wednesday, May 10, executed a new arrest order against Héctor “El Güero” Palma — alleged founding member of the Sinaloa Cartel — for the crime of homicide, effectively preempting his release.
On Tuesday, May 9, an appeals court in the Mexican state of Jalisco ordered the immediate release of Palma, acquitting him of organized crime charges.
This is the second time that the FGR has obtained an arrest warrant to prevent the release of Palma. In May 2021, Jalisco’s Second District Court of Federal Criminal Proceedings likewise ordered his immediate release.
María Dolores Olarte of the First Collegiate Court of Appeals of Jalisco, on Tuesday, ruled that the arguments presented by prosecutors to link Palma to organized crime were mostly “unfounded.”
Palma’s release two years ago was blocked when the judge ruled that two witnesses — Marcelo Peña García, ex-brother-in-law of former Sinaloa Cartel drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, and Sinaloan businessman Javier Burgueño Urías — accusing him of two murders and drug ties needed to be located, so they could testify against him. However, the prosecution was unable to locate the witnesses, prompting Olarte’s decision to release Palma.
The latest arrest warrant against Palma was issued by Cecilia Crockman Flores of the First Instance Court of the Judicial District of the State of Guerrero.
Palma has served a total of 28 years in prison after he was arrested in 1995 in Guadalajara, Jalisco. He has been incarcerated in the Altiplano prison in the State of Mexico (Edoméx) since 2016.
Palma purportedly served as a lieutenant of Guadalajara Cartel founder Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo alongside eventual Sinaloa Cartel boss Guzmán — who was slowly gaining notoriety at that time — during the 1980s. With the capture of Gallardo and subsequent imprisonment of his Guadalajara Cartel cofounder Rafael Caro Quintero for the torture and murder of Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, Palma and Guzmán formed their own criminal organization, which current Sinaloa Cartel top leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada would also eventually join.
Experts believe that Palma’s downfall began when his wife Guadalupe Lejía allegedly cheated on him with Venezuelan hitman Rafael Clavel, who then in turn took revenge on Palma for his purported theft of 300 kilos of cocaine from the Tijuana Cartel by beheading the Sinaloa Cartel boss’s wife and sending the dismembered body part in a cooler to Palma, as well as murdering his children and throwing their bodies off a bridge — the video of which was also sent to El Güero.
Clavel, at that time, was actually hired by the Arellano-Félix brothers of the Tijuana Cartel, specifically to seduce Palma’s wife.
The slaughter of his family as well as his wife’s betrayal reportedly sent Palma into a rage, and he proceeded to massacre 14 people he deemed responsible, including Clavel and two of his sons.
In June 1995, the same year the United States government found him guilty of trafficking large amounts of cocaine, Palma was arrested in Guadalajara by the Mexican Army. He was incarcerated in the maximum-security penitentiary Puente Grande in Jalisco, was extradited to the United States in January 2007 and then deported back to Mexico in 2016 after serving a sentence for drug trafficking.