Top Drug Cartel Leader Abducted, Killed Amid Allegations He Was Working With Cops

Carlos Enrique Sánchez aka “El Cholo” formed his own cartel several years ago and the ensuing war turned Guadalajara into one of the most violent cities in Mexico.
March 19, 2021, 4:44pm
A video allegedly of 'El Cholo' surrounded by CJNG gunmen was released prior to the discovery of a body in Guadalajara.
A video allegedly of 'El Cholo' surrounded by CJNG gunmen was released prior to the discovery of a body in Guadalajara. (Screenshot via Youtube)

MEXICO CITY - Authorities believe a body wrapped up tightly in black garbage bags left in a park in Guadalajara is that of Carlos Enrique Sánchez, one of the biggest gangsters in Mexico. A police official who arrived on the gruesome scene told VICE World News that because of the tightness of the plastic wrapping the body, police initially thought “it was a mannequin.”

But the two pieces of a bristol board stabbed into the corpse by kitchen knives claimed it was Sánchez, alias “El Cholo.”

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“The traitor,” the bristol board said in Spanish.

Sánchez was a former top lieutenant of Jalisco New Generation Cartel, known as CJNG for its Spanish acronym. Most commonly referred to as “El Cholo,” Sánchez broke from CJNG around 2017 to create his own cartel called La Nueva Plaza.

The schism caused a war between the two factions that has seen violence rise in Guadalajara over the past few years as the two groups, along with other underworld players, competed for control of the methamphetamine industry in the city. The various conflicts have spread to other parts of the state and since December 2018, Jalisco state has accounted for over 20 percent of all disappearances in Mexico.

Prior to the discovery of his body, a video surfaced on Thursday of Sánchez sitting in a white lawn chair wearing a red Lacoste T-shirt, surrounded by masked men in camo holding large weapons, believed to be members of CJNG.

An obviously distraught Sánchez looks to the side of the camera apparently reading off a number of talking points, as he takes the blame for numerous recent violent incidents in Guadalajara and lists the names of several top police officers whom he claims he worked with in an effort to collaborate alongside the government to eliminate CJNG, not just in Jalisco, but in other parts of Mexico as well.

He specifically claimed to be working with Omar García Harfuch, a controversial top cop in Mexico City who survived after being hit by several bullets during an early morning ambush by alleged CJNG gunmen in Mexico City in June 2020.

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García Harfuch took to Twitter to deny the allegations, saying he would not be “distracted” by “false messages” in a video of “a criminal kidnapped by other criminals.”

On the Front Line of Mexico’s Forever War Against the Cartels

In the video, Sánchez also claimed that he also had the backing of two of Guadalajara's top cops: J. de Jesús De Anda Zambrano and Mario Alberto Martínez González. The two high-ranking officers were relieved of their duties later that same day according to the city authorities, to make sure there isn’t a "conflict of interest" during the investigation.

Allegations of infiltration within the Jalisco security authorities by organized crime has been a talking point for years. Numerous law enforcement sources consulted by VICE World News explained it’s currently understood La Nueva Plaza has some sort of alliance with Sinaloa Cartel in the region and estimated that around 30 percent of cops in Guadalajara were in some way involved with the mob.

In a VICE World News exclusive published on March 15, a longtime detective in Guadalajara gave an example of when they had recently arrested an armed man who admitted to being a member of a rival cartel of CJNG and took him to jail.

“My superiors, instead of saying to me, ‘Congratulations, you got this fucking asshole,’ they were mad at me because I did my job and I did it right,” said the detective.

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The detective wasn’t surprised by Thursday’s allegations.

When asked after the release of the video whether the detective believed that there was favoritism towards rivals of CJNG, as Sánchez claimed in the video, the detective replied, “Totally.”

“It’s well-known that there is too much trash in the police and the government,” said the detective.

Rumors have abounded for the past few years about an alleged alliance between various parts of the government and members of criminal organizations to combat CJNG, which the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has listed as one of the world’s most powerful criminal groups.

Notoriously, a narco banner was left hanging in Northern Mexico in February 2019 signed by Mexico’s most elusive kingpin—Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada—a leader of the Sinaloa cartel and a former partner of incarcerated drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. Hung only two months after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador entered office, the banner stated that Zambada was going to lead a “cleansing” of organized crime in Mexico.

“We’re coming with all the support of the federal government, to bring back the old school. We’re inviting all the cartels to talk with us. So that they can align, or we’ll make them align,” the banner read. 

Although these allegations haven’t been confirmed, similar banners have popped up around the country allegedly signed by Zambada. The claim has been repeated over the past few years in banners left around the country, allegedly by CJNG.