Amado Carrillo Fuentes was a Mexican drug smuggler who led the Juárez cartel. Known as the El Senor de Los Cielos (The Lord of the Skies) for his sophisticated air smuggling network using a fleet of private jets, he was one of Mexico's most powerful drug lords at the height of his career, having amassed a fortune of over $25 billion, rivaling Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Initially, he was a part of the Guadalajara cartel and was sent to Ojinaga to work under veteran smuggler Pablo Acosta, and gained control of the Juárez plaza after Acosta's death in 1988. In 1989, he pulled the Juárez plaza out of the Guadalajara cartel, and formed the Juárez cartel with Rafael Aguilar Guajardo.

He died in 1997 following an unsuccessful abdominal liposuction and plastic surgery.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Amado Carrillo Fuentes was born in Sinaloa in 1956. He was the nephew of Ernesto 'Don Neto' Fonseca Carrillo, one of the founders of the powerful Guadalajara cartel.

He worked in the Dirección Federal de Seguridad for two years, and gained a pilot's license. He also became involved in the marijuana trafficking business, and by 1980 had enough influence to run a small heavily armed gang.

Guadalajara cartel[edit | edit source]

Amado prepares to fly Miguel.

In 1980, his uncle introduced him to Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, an ex-police officer from Sinaloa who worked for drug lord Pedro Avilés. Félix Gallardo hoped to create a confederation of drug traffickers and wanted someone to chauffeur him across the country to meet the leaders of each of the plazas to unite them under Avilés.

Carrillo flew his uncle and Félix Gallardo to Ojinaga, where they met Pablo Acosta. After Acosta agreed to join the federation, Amado gave his fake Rolex to Acosta, which he gleefully accepted as a sign of the partnership. Then the trio headed to Tijuana and got the Arellano-Félix brothers on board and then met several other plaza leaders including Filemón Medina and Rene Verdugo Urquidez. Later, Amado and his uncle try cocaine for the first time at one of Alberto Sicilia Falcon's parties, beginning their addiction.

They return back to Guadalajara, where Félix Gallardo hosted a meeting of all the smugglers to officially start their cartel. However, Pedro Avilés immediately removed Pablo Acosta from the partnership for not showing respect, breaking the consortium. Avilés decided to take Félix Gallardo back to Sinaloa and kill him for being an upstart. Carrillo offers to get his men and kill Pedro if necessary, but Félix Gallardo declined and politely thanked him.

Salvador Osuna Nava, the Director-General of the Dirección Federal de Seguridad (DFS) was one of the attendees of the meeting and was impressed by Félix's plan, and teamed up with Don Neto and rescued Félix Gallardo. Gallardo then shot and killed Pedro himself.

Félix later had Amado, Joaquín Guzmán Loera and Cuco to ambush a DFS agent responsible for the death of one of Ramón Arellano Félix's cousins. Amado and 'Chapo' Guzmán buried the agent alive after Ramón had shot him in his gonads.

Cartel leader Rafael Caro Quintero staged a fake kidnapping of his lover Sofia Conesa in order to elope, angering Conesa's father, who was the Secretary of Education. In exchange for Rafael's safety, Félix Gallardo agreed to do a personal favor for Osuna Nava. Carrillo is forced to fly a C-130 carrying high-grade American weapons to a rebel group in Nicaragua. However, upon landing, Félix and Carrillo are captured by the rebel group and are tortured as per Osuna Nava's orders till they are rescued by an American accompanying them.

Amado supported Félix's decision to shift the focus of the cartel from marijuana to cocaine, and often requested his boss to use planes to smuggle cargo instead of road vehicles. Amado also began repackaging marijuana before smuggling them across the border, angering Rafael who found it to be disrespectful. The situation between Amado and Rafael worsened after Rafael angrily responded to Amado playfully flirting with Sofia. Rafael pointed a gun at Amado before he was stopped by Chapo and Cuco.

In 1984, Félix Gallardo called in a meeting where he appointed Héctor Palma Salazar as the leader of operations in Mazatlan, and sent Amado to work under Acosta. Félix felt that Acosta was unreliable and wanted Amado to take over his operations, but Amado reported that he was impressed by Acosta's ingenious ways of hiding marijuana in trucks while transporting them and told him that it would be unwise to remove Acosta from the cartel.

November of that year, Rafael's prized farm: the Rancho Búfalo is raided by the Mexican military, causing damages worth upto $2.8 billion. Carrillo is sent to Ojinaga to convince Acosta that the game is still safe, and learned of Acosta's smuggling tricks, including carrying marijuana in the gas tanks of trucks. He also learned that Acosta valued human life more than other drug traffickers, and believed his men even if Amado thought that they were lying.

The source of the leak is found to be Enrique Camarena Salazar, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent. The DFS manipulate Rafael into ordering his kidnapping, and the agent is tortured and killed. His death sparks a retaliation from the United States, who close the Mexican border to apply pressure on the Mexican politicians. Caro Quintero fled to Costa Rica; but Félix Gallardo gave away his location in order to save himself. However, the bounty on Félix Gallardo's head is still not removed, and he, along with Don Neto go into hiding. Félix later also gave away the location of Don Neto, and disappeared with the help of Sinaloan governor Leopoldo Sánchez Celis.

After Félix Gallardo's disappearance, Benjamín called a meeting in Ensemada, which Carrillo attended, along with Acosta, Chapo, Ramon, Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix and Isabella Bautista. Benjamín proposed the organization to forget the arrests of the three leaders and continue smuggling, but he is interrupted when soldiers surrounded the compound, and Félix returned with a military escort to retake control of his organization. After the smugglers disperse, Amado told Félix that he is looking forward to working under Félix, subtly hinting that he is overlooking Félix's role in his uncle's arrest.

Amado and Acosta in Ojinaga

In order to establish Amado's aerial smuggling network, Félix Gallardo began funding the construction of two airstrips in Juárez. However, work on the airstrips came to complete standstill after Acosta's mysterious disappearance. Upon Rafael Aguilar Guajardo's order, Amado began looking for Acosta, and was told that he was on the other side of the border. Amado crossed into the United States, and located his mentor, now living with Mimi Webb Miller, an American rancher, and contemplated retirement.

Amado protecting Acosta against an ambush set up by Fermín Arévalo. Amado ended up killing Arévalo.

Acosta attempted to teach Amado about honor and morality, by warring against Fermín Arévalo who bailed Acosta out of prison when Acosta was 16 years old. Marco de Haro, Acosta's chief-of-security, killed one of Arévalo's sons after Acosta suspected them of stealing from him. Arévalo responded by sending a man to kill Acosta, but Acosta survived the attack. Pablo, Amado and Marco barge into the hospital where the assassin was being treated, and take him to the middle of a desert, where Marco began beating him, forcing the assassin to reveal that Arévalo paid him 2500 pesos to kill Acosta. Acosta gathered a crew of heavily armed men to find and kill Arévalo. However, they discover that Arévalo wasn't there in his ranch, and instead find his wife Antonia. On their way back, their convoy is ambushed by Arévalo and his men. While Amado was distracted by the gunfight, Arévalo managed to sneak up behind and critically wound Acosta. Before he could fire the killing shot, he is shot dead by Amado.

Meanwhile, Miguel wanted Amado to lead the cartel's transportation after Juan Matta-Ballesteros' arrest. He invited him to a meeting with Hélmer Herrera of the Cali cartel, to renegotiate terms of their agreement after Miguel won the support of the Gulf cartel, effectively monopolizing the Mexican smuggling industry. However, Juan Nepomuceno Guerra did not show up to meeting, and Herrera informed him that his partners made a separate deal with the Gulf cartel, destroying Miguel's plan on dominating the Cali cartel. In a desperate action to keep his organization relevant, Miguel told Herrera that he could transport 70 tons of cocaine in a day. The Colombians accept, and Miguel orders Amado to establish his air smuggling network.

Amado purchasing jet planes at an auction in Belize.

Amado later went to Belize to purchase six Boeing 727s from a bankrupt Belizean airline. The newly purchased jets were flown to an airfield in Chiapas, and were stripped of the seats and other commercial airline amenities to make space for 70 tons of cocaine.

Acosta heard of Miguel attempting to smuggle 70 tons of cocaine, and sensed that the Guadalajara cartel was becoming weak. On his wife's insistence, he spoke to Walt Breslin about a possible witness protection program in the United States, but backed out and decided to give an interview to the American press about his relationship with the Guadalajara cartel. The interview angered officials on both sides of the border, and Acosta is killed in a joint MFJP-FBI raid on his hideout in Santa Elena.

The day before Acosta's death, Amado visited him and requested him to accept his help. Acosta mocked him, and said that he'd rather die as a bandido than as a rat. He then gave back the Rolex he received from Amado seven years ago; saying that he knew it was a fake all along. Amado began reconsidering his decision to work under Félix, as he felt that Félix might betray him in a whim for his own gains just like he did to his uncle and Acosta.

However, the day before the delivery is to be made, one of the planes developed an electrical problem. Amado and one of his men spent the night stripping the plane apart, until they come across a tracker placed in in the cockpit console. Knowing that his shipment is being tracked, he tells Miguel that he is delaying the shipment by a day, and set up an ambush while resulted in the death of several mercenaries hired by the DEA. The next day, the cocaine is flown from Chiapas to Juárez, and is split and given to all the plazas to smuggle it to the United States.

Félix Gallardo then tipped off the location of the warehouse holding the cocaine to the DEA, resulting in American authorities seizing cocaine valued at over $7 billion and money worth $12 million. While Félix Gallardo did this in order to gain leverage against the Cali cartel, Herrera decided to push Félix out of the business by forming independent agreements with all plaza heads, including Amado. Amado was also disappointment with Félix's decision to have Hector Palma's wife and children brutally murdered for Palma's decision to leave the cartel.

Amado tells Félix that his career is over.

In the subsequent cartel meeting, Benjamín announced that the Tijuana plaza would be leaving the cartel, followed by Chapo and Azul's announcement that the Sinaloa plaza wold be leaving the cartel as well; just as Amado anticipated. After Aguilar announced that the Juárez plaza would be leaving as well, Amado told Félix that Acosta was mostly full of shit, but was right that the cost of doing business with Félix was too high. He revealed that he planned on the betrayal a long time ago, but instead opted to wait for the other plazas to leave him first due to Félix's tyrannical control over them. He and Aguilar then proceeded to form the Juárez cartel.

After Félix's arrest, the leaders of the Juárez cartel, Tijuana cartel, Gulf cartel and the Sinaloa cartel arranged a meeting and promised to work together in peace.

Juárez Cartel[edit | edit source]

Amado and Pacho in Juárez, 1994.

By 1994, Amado became the sole leader of the Juárez cartel. While the Arellano Félix brothers continued to smuggle heroin, Carrillo Fuentes trafficked cocaine belonging to the Cali cartel and took 50% of the cocaine trafficked as payment.

After the fall of the Medellín cartel in 1994, the Cali cartel announce that they were in midst of negotiating a surrender deal with the government of Colombia. As per the agreement, the cartel would cease it's cocaine production. Amado, whose operation heavily relied on the Cali cartel, was disappointment by the news.

Colombia's Norte del Valle cartel expressed disappointment over the surrender deal, and as a result, Pacho Herrera murdered one of the cartel's leaders. Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela decided to send Pacho to Mexico to lay low and inform Amado that they would doubling their output for the next six months.

Pacho and his brother, Alvaro Herrera arrived in Mexico and greeted Amado as he arrived in a plane full of US dollars, half of it belonging to the Cali cartel. Amado attempted to convince Pacho to form an independent venture after the Cali cartel surrendered, but Pacho refused. Amado took him to Juárez, and explained him the importance of the newly signed NAFTA between USA and Mexico, and warned him that he is quitting the right business at the wrong time. Pacho refused again, reaffirming that his loyalty lied to the Rodriguez brothers, the leaders of the Cali cartel.

Amado began searching for new suppliers, and was immediately contacted by Orlando Henao Montoya of the Norte del Valle cartel. Since Henao and Amado shared a similar view of the future, they agreed to work together. However, as part of their deal, Amado reluctantly gave away the location of Pacho's hideout in Mexico. Henao, who was looking to take revenge on Pacho for the murder of Claudio Salazar sent a brigade of sicarios to attack Pacho. The attack was unsuccessful, as Pacho had survived but his brother was left permanently paralyzed.

Personality[edit | edit source]

Amado overlooking the city he controlled.

Like his mentor Felix Gallardo, Amado was shrewd and highly ambitious. He pioneered the idea of using private jets to fly cocaine across Mexico, revolutionizing his cartel. Amado was a highly astute cartel leader and saw the potential of cocaine way before Caro Quintero, causing Felix to favour him instead of Caro Quintero.

Amado was very laid back and likeable, and rarely made enemies while working under Félix Gallardo, unlike Chapo or Palma Salazar. However despite this, as Acosta had noted, Amado lacked loyalty much like Félix Gallardo. Amado worked with Félix despite knowing that Félix betrayed his uncle, and betrayed Pacho Herrera despite forming a close friendship with him in order to work with the Norte del Valle cartel. This is ultimately demonstrated when he began plotted the overthrowing of Félix Gallardo in the late 1980s. Despite this, Félix while imprisoned recognized that Amado would be the wealthies and most powerful drug trafficker Mexico has ever known, a prediction which came true. This is further proved by the fact that in 1994, the Cali cartel paid Amado in cocaine; something which Félix unsuccessfully tried to achieve.

Amado was highly capable in wielding small arms, and was a highly skilled a versatile pilot.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Season 1
"The Plaza System"
"El Padrino"
"Rafa, Rafa, Rafa!"
"The Colombian Connection"
"La Última Frontera"
"Jefe de Jefes"
"Just Say No"
"811 Lope de Vega"
Season 2
"Salva El Tigre"
"Alea Iacta Est"
"Ruben Zuno Arce"
"The Big Dig"
"El Dedazo"
"Truth and Reconciliation"
"Se Cayó El Sistema"
"Growth, Prosperity, and Liberation"
"Free Trade"
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