The most notorious gangster of our lifetime attempted to hire the Hells Angels to take out a Canadian real estate agent he called “Catboy,” a court heard this week.
This bizarre sentence is brought to you by the ongoing trial of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmàn Loera. El Chapo’s trial in Brooklyn took yet another dramatic turn this week as the former right-hand man to El Chapo, Hildebrando Alexander Cifuentes-Villa, took to the stand to testify against his former boss.
During his testimony we learned many interesting tidbits, like El Chapo tried to bribe the Mexican president with $100 million and, more importantly to Canadians, we found more out about Stephen Tello—one of El Chapo’s Canadian “workers”—whose alleged role with the cartel first came to light last week.
We also found out that over time El Chapo grew distrustful of Tello and decided that he wanted to put the Cat down.
Tello, a former real estate agent and Concordia student who is currently behind bars after being popped in a 2015 Nova Scotia RCMP drug sting, was apparently one of the larger players moving drugs in Canada. Tello, it seems, was one of El Chapo’s go-to guys operating in the Great White North.
Tello would work with Cifuentes-Villa to shift cocaine north and drug money south. As reported by the National Post, they would move the drugs through trailers, copters, and at times on the ocean, as they would move it directly into Vancouver. Apparently, this was going well, with the Sinaloa Cartel raking in a ton of cash from blow-hungry Canadians. At one point there was even talk of going to a border lake, renting homes on the American and Canadian side and smuggling drugs across the water which is…. so obvious it’s surprising we haven’t heard about that more.
Tello is now the second Canadian strongly connected to El Chapo and his massive network—which is still going strong after his arrest. The other Canadian, Mykhaylo Koretskyy—known as “Russian Mike”—was arrested in early 2018 after flying to the Caribbean. Koretsky shares the indictment with Tello and the National Post reports Russian Mike—who was also called “Cobra,” which is unequivocally cooler than “Catboy”—is suspected of moving a major amount of cocaine in cargo trucks.
But El Chapo is a notoriously paranoid man, and over time he began suspecting Tello of ripping him off. Once El Chapo is convinced you’re stealing from him the most likely outcome is, well, not good. At first, the cartel tried to get Tello whacked on their turf by inviting him to Mexico, but Tello wisely turned down the travel offer. El Chapo eventually delegated Tello’s hit down to Cifuentes-Villa who then, because he had a meeting with the Hells Angels anyways, decided he would tap the biker gang for the hit.
Luckily for the Cat, these hits never came about as first Cifuentes-Villa was arrested and then Tello himself—insert joke about nine lives here. Tello was busted in a coke smuggling sting, not related to Chapo’s operation, referred to as Operation Harrington. This sting saw the drug dealer conspire to traffic over 1,000 kilos of cocaine—worth more than $42 million—with an undercover officer. The plan that got Tello thrown in the hoosegow would have seen him import Guyana cocaine into Canada through the use of a research vessel.
Court documents outline Tello as playing a leadership role in the operation. The judge in the case wrote in their sentencing that they believed Tello was “one of the small group of men who shared the top rung of their cocaine-importation hierarchy.”
“This conspiracy was a sophisticated, international one, involving many co-conspirators performing different roles and functions,” reads the sentencing. “This conspiracy required very considerable planning, international travel, and the use of a sophisticated, encrypted communications network to try to avoid police surveillance and apprehension.”
While his court sentence may have saved Tello from a shallow grave, the man is no stranger to death, the National Post reports. It seems people around Tello had a habit of turning up dead. Jahanbakhsh Meshkati, the man who unknowingly introduced Tello to the undercover cop who would eventually take him down was found murdered in 2014—he was shot down in Burnaby, BC. A year later a man who worked with Tello as a financier was shot down in Alberta. And, just two months ago, Philipos Kollaros, who was caught as well in Operation Harrington, was sitting in a cafe in Montreal’s Little Italy when he was shot and killed.
Tello is currently serving a 15-year sentence which is slightly better than being murdered by the Hells Angels.
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