The Juárez Cartel (Spanish: ''Cártel de Juárez''), also known as the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization, is a Mexican drug cartel based in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, across the Mexico—U.S. border from El Paso, Texas. The cartel is one of several drug trafficking organizations that have been known to decapitate their rivals, mutilate their corpses and dump them in public places to instill fear not only into the general public, but also into local law enforcement and their rivals, the Sinaloa Cartel. Its last known leader was Juan Pablo Ledezma. The Juárez Cartel has an armed wing known as La Línea, a Juarez street gang that usually performs the executions. It also uses the Barrio Azteca gang to attack its enemies. The Juárez Cartel was the dominant player in the center of the country, controlling a large percentage of the cocaine traffic from Mexico into the United States. The death of Amado Carrillo Fuentes in 1997 was the beginning of the decline of the Juárez cartel, as Carrillo relied on ties to Mexico's top-ranking drug interdiction officer, division general Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo.Mexican Drug Czar Fired, Charged With Drug Corruption
In September 2011, the Mexican Federal Police reported that the cartel is now known as "Nuevo Cartel de Juárez" (New Juárez Cartel). It is alleged that the New Juárez Cartel is responsible for recent executions in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua.


The cartel was founded around the 1970s. When the leader Pablo Acosta Villarreal was killed in April 1987 during a cross-border raid by Mexican Federal Police helicopters in the Rio Grande village of Santa Elena, Chihuahua, Rafael Aguilar Guajardo took his place along with Amado Carrillo Fuentes, nephew of Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo. Guajardo was eventually betrayed and murdered by Fuentes in 1993 and Amado became the leader of Juarez. Amado brought his brothers and later his son into the business. After Amado died in 1997 following complications from plastic surgery, a brief turf war erupted over the control of the cartel, with Amado's brother, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, becoming leader after defeating the Muñoz Talavera brothers. Vicente Carrillo Fuentes then formed a partnership with Juan José Esparragoza Moreno, his brother Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes, his nephew Vicente Carrillo Leyva, Ricardo Garcia Urquiza, and formed an alliance with other drug lords such as Ismael "Mayo" Zambada in Sinaloa and Baja California, the Beltrán Leyva brothers in Monterrey, and Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán in Nayarit, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas. When Vicente took control of the cartel, the organization was in flux. The death of Amado created a large power vacuum in the Mexican underworld. The Carrillo Fuentes brothers became the most powerful organization during the 1990s while Vicente was able to avoid direct conflict and increase the strength of the Juárez Cartel. The relationship between the Carrillo Fuentes clan and the other members of the organization grew unstable towards the end of the 1990s and into the 2000s. During the 1990s and early 2000s, drug lords from contiguous Mexican states forged an alliance that became known as 'The Golden Triangle Alliance' or 'La Alianza Triángulo de Oro' because of its three-state area of influence: Chihuahua, south of the U.S. state of Texas, Durango and Sinaloa. However, this alliance was broken after the Sinaloa Cartel drug lord, Joaquín Guzmán Loera (aka: ''Shorty''), refused to pay to the Juarez Cartel for the right to use some smuggling routes into the U.S. In 2001, after Joaquín Guzmán Loera 'El Chapo' escaped from prison, many Juárez Cartel members defected to Guzmán Loera's Sinaloa Cartel. In 2004, Vicente's brother was killed, allegedly by order of Guzmán Loera. Carrillo Fuentes retaliated by assassinating Guzmán's brother in prison. This ignited a turf war between the two cartels, which was more or less put on hold from 2005 to 2006 because of the Sinaloa Cartel's war against the Gulf Cartel. After the organization collapsed, some elements of it were incorporated into the Sinaloa Cartel, which absorbed much of the Juárez Cartel's former territory. The Juárez Cartel has been able to either corrupt or intimidate high-ranking officials in order to obtain information on law enforcement operatives and acquire protection from the police and judicial systems. The Juárez cartel has been found to operate in 21 Mexican states. Its principal bases are Culiacán, Monterrey, Ciudad Juárez, Ojinaga, Mexico City, Guadalajara, Cuernavaca and Cancún. Members of the cartel were implicated in the serial murder site in Ciudad Juárez that was discovered in 2004 and has been dubbed the House of Death. Since 2007, the Juárez Cartel has been locked in a vicious battle with its former partner, the Sinaloa Cartel, for control of Juárez. The fighting between them has left thousands dead in Chihuahua. The Juárez Cartel relies on two enforcement gangs to exercise control over both sides of the border: La Linea, a group of corrupt (current and former) Chihuahua police officers, is prevalent on the Mexican side, while the Barrio Azteca street gang operates in Mexico and in Texan cities such as El Paso, Dallas and Houston, as well as in New Mexico and Arizona. On July 15, 2010, the Juárez Cartel escalated violence to a new level by using a car bomb to target federal police officers. In September 2011 banners were displayed, publicizing the return of the extinct cartel. They were signed by Cesar "El Gato" Carrillo Leyva, who appears to be the son or a close relative of the late drug lord Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Prior to 2012, the Juárez Cartel controlled one of the primary transportation routes for billions of dollars' worth of illegal drug shipments annually entering the United States from Mexico. Since then, however, control of these areas has shifted to the Sinaloa Cartel.Which cartel is king in Mexico?
January 5, 2012
On September 1, 2013, the Mexican forces arrested Alberto Carrillo Fuentes, alias ''Betty la Fea'' ("Ugly Betty"), in the western state of Nayarit. He had taken the leadership of the organization in 2013 after his brother Vicente Carrillo Fuentes (fugitive until his arrest in October 2014) retired following a reported illness. The Mexican government has auctioned off the villa of the late drug lord Amado Carrillo Fuentes. The Mexico City home sold for more than $2m (£1.6m) and the proceeds will go to Mexico's public health service and its fight against coronavirus.

Current alliances

Since March 2010, it is alleged that the major cartels have aligned into two loosely allied factions, one integrated by the Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, Los Zetas and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel; the other faction integrated by the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and the now disbanded La Familia Cartel. In 2019, it was revealed that notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman put a bounty on Juarez Cartel leader Juan Pablo Ledezma for ending the Juarez Cartel's alliance with his Sinaloa Cartel.


By 2018, the Juárez Cartel's power declined in its home region of Ciudad Juárez In June 2020, it was reported that La Línea was the Juárez Cartel's most powerful fraction in Ciudad Juárez.https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/jalisco-cartel-dominate-mexico/ However, Los Salazar, a powerful cell of the Sinaloa Cartel, had by this point managed to build a significant presence in Ciudad Juárez as well. The Jalisco New Generation Cartel also made its presence in Ciudad Juárez with its New Juarez Cartel, though it failed to deter the hold which La Linea and Los Salazar had over the Ciudad Juárez drug trafficking market as well.

Media portrayal

A fictional Juárez Cartel was featured battling a fictional Tijuana Cartel headed by a character named Obregon in the 2000 motion picture ''Traffic''. A fictional Juárez Cartel appears in AMC television series ''Breaking Bad'' and its prequel ''Better Call Saul'' as recurring antagonists. The Australian ABC documentary ''La Frontera'' (2010) described the social impact of the cartel in the region. A fictional Juarez Cartel appears in Tom Clancy's novel ''Against All Enemies'' (2011). It is secretly led by Mexican billionaire Jorge Rojas, who derived the name from its original founder Enrique Juarez. Juarez had established a pharmaceutical company in which Rojas is an investor. Rojas later arranged to produce black-market versions of pharmaceutical drugs, turning in more profit. After Juarez objects to the production, Rojas later had him killed in a skiing "accident" which allowed him to take over the company and turn it into a full-fledged drug cartel that made him one of the richest men in the world. In the FX series ''The Bridge'', the Juárez Cartel are the main antagonists of the series. In this series, the Juárez Cartel is led by Fausto Galvan (played by Ramón Franco), a powerful, violent and brutal Mexican drug kingpin, who does not arouse suspicion, has a store called El Rey Storage. In ''The Bridge'', the main sicario of the Juárez Cartel is Hector Valdez (played by Arturo Del Puerto), known for his brutality against the targets of the Juarez Cartel.

See also

*List of gangs in Mexico **Beltrán-Leyva Cartel **Gulf Cartel **Los Zetas **Tijuana Cartel *Amado Carrillo Fuentes *Vicente Carrillo Fuentes *List of Mexico's 37 most-wanted drug lords


External links

InSight Crime
{{DEFAULTSORT:Juarez Cartel Category:Organizations established in the 1970s Category:1970s establishments in Mexico Category:Drug cartels in Mexico Category:Ciudad Juárez Category:Mexican drug war Category:Transnational organized crime Category:Organized crime groups in the United States Category:Gangs in Arizona Category:Gangs in New Mexico Category:Gangs in Oklahoma Category:Gangs in Texas