Héctor Luis Palma Salazar (a.k.a.: "El Güero Palma") is a former Mexican drug trafficker and leader of the Sinaloa Cartel alongside Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. After the brutal murder of his young family ordered by rival cartel members, Palma engaged in a string of vicious crimes to avenge his lost ones. Palma was arrested on June 23, 1995, and extradited to the United States where he served a jail sentence until June 2016. He was then deported back to Mexico and charged with a double homicide for having murdered two Nayarit police officers back in 1995. Palma is currently incarcerated at the Altiplano Prison, near Mexico City.

Early life and career

Jesús Héctor Luis Palma Salazar was born in Noria de Abajo, Mocorito, Sinaloa, Mexico, in the mid 1940s. He began his life of crime as a car thief and eventually worked as a gunman for Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, under the umbrella of the Guadalajara Cartel. Palma rose up the ranks and, along with Abelardo "El Lobito" Retamoza Machado, eventually became a co-leader of the cartel. He was associated with Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. Following the loss of a large cocaine shipment which was blamed on El Chapo and Palma, El Lobito Retamoza was killed but Palma spared. Following El Lobito's death, Palma contacted and created an alliance with Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán of the rival Sinaloa Cartel. Palma splintered from the group, which was handed down to Felix Gallardo's nephews in Tijuana, who later formed the Tijuana Cartel (also known as the Arellano Félix Organization). Palma, along with a Venezuelan trafficker named Rafael Enrique Clavel, the one-time boyfriend of Palma's sister Minerva Palma, began operating their own cartel.

First arrest and family's murder

In 1978, Palma was arrested in Arizona for drug trafficking and sentenced to eight years in a U.S. prison. Upon his release, he discovered his wife, Guadalupe Leija Serrano, had run off with Clavel and taken her and Palma's two children. Clavel forced Guadalupe to withdraw US$7 million from a bank account and later decapitated her and shipped her head back to Palma. The two young children, Jesús (aged 5) and Nataly (aged 4), were taken to Venezuela and thrown off a bridge named Puente de la Concordia, on the border with Colombia. Soon afterward, Clavel began working for the Tijuana Cartel. In retaliation, Palma executed Gallardo's lawyer and Clavel's three children. Clavel would later be arrested and soon be murdered in jail by an inmate on Palma's orders. Palma returned to trafficking, this time within the Sinaloa Cartel, sharing leadership with Adrián Palma Reyes and Joaquin Guzmán Loera (El Chapo) would later become the leader of the Sinaloa cartel while Adrian Palma Reyes became a lieutenant of Guzman and leader of the Badiraguato plaza in Sinaloa with the Reyes family as his armed wing

Second arrest

Palma was arrested on June 23, 1995, after a 12-seat Lear jet he was flying on to attend a wedding party crash-landed. He was traveling from Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, to Guadalajara, Jalisco, when the jet was diverted and unable to locate a new landing strip in time. Palma survived the crash-landing and was later arrested by Mexican military officers; he originally evaded capture by traveling in full uniform as a Federal Judicial Police (PJF) officer complete with identification and an armed caravan of PJF personnel. After serving nine years in the Atwater Federal Prison, Palma was extradited back to Mexico in June 2016, when he was charged with a double murder of police officers in 1995, in Nayarit. He is currently incarcerated at the Altiplano Prison, near Mexico City.

Kingpin Act sanction

On 2 June 2003, the United States Department of the Treasury sanctioned Palma under the ''Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act'' (sometimes referred to simply as the ''Kingpin Act'') for his involvement in drug trafficking, along with six other international criminals and three entities. The act prohibited U.S. citizens and companies from doing any kind of business activity with him and virtually froze all his assets in the U.S.


Palma had managed to insert himself into the depths of the Mexican Federal Judicial Police (PJF), evading detection by posing as one in complete uniform, with identification, and traveling in a heavily armed caravan of PJF officers. It was later discovered he was able to evade capture by staying at the home of the local police commander. The corruption within the police force has been documented to have spread to the judicial system. By bribing judges, the Sinaloa Cartel has repeatedly evaded prosecution. In 2004, 18 men were arrested in possession of 28 machine guns, 2 hand guns, 223 magazines, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, 12 grenade launchers, 18 hand grenades, smoke grenades and bulletproof vests. The men were set free by Judge José Luis Gómez Martínez, who said there was no evidence they were part of any criminal organization.

In popular culture

In Narcos: Mexico Seasons 1-3, Palma is played by Gorka Lasaosa.

See also

* Merida Initiative * Mexican Drug War * War on Drugs


{{DEFAULTSORT:Palma Salazar, Hector Luis Category:People of the Mexican Drug War Category:Sinaloa Cartel traffickers Category:Living people Category:Mexican prisoners and detainees Category:People sanctioned under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act Category:People from Sinaloa Category:1940s births