EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Ten days after escaping supervised release in San Diego, a convicted Sinaloa cartel enforcer and two family members have been murdered in Culiacan, Mexican newspapers report.
The body of Jose Rodrigo Arechiga Gamboa, a.k.a. “El Chino Ántrax,” was among three found Saturday inside a BMW X-5 sports utility vehicle registered to his sister, El Sol de Culiacan reported. The vehicle was abandoned on a dirt road just east of the city. The other two victims were his sister, Ada Jimena, and his brother-in-law Juan Guillermo Garcia, El Sol reported.
The newspaper says family members confirmed the identity of the victims and said the three were abducted after a firefight in a home on the Guadalupe Victoria neighborhood of Culiacan. Neighbors reported the shots but police never came. According to El Sol, the bodies showed signs of torture and had visible bullet holes.
Separately, a Mexican blog that reports on Mexico’s drug scene tweeted out leaked police photos allegedly of El Chino Ántrax’s dead body.
Arechiga Gamboa became the Sinaloa cartel’s go-to hitman during the drug wars of a decade ago. His squad was involved in assassinations of rivals from the Arellano Felix, Beltran Leyva and Carrillo Fuentes drug trafficking organizations, a private U.S. intelligence analyst says.
When the dust settled, the Sinaloa cartel under the leadership of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was basically running the drug trade in Mexico, according to experts.
But El Chino Ántrax didn’t know how to keep a low profile and flaunted his wealth on social media. He was arrested in Amsterdam seven years ago and extradited to the United States on charges of conspiring to import cocaine and marijuana. He pleaded guilty to those charges in 2015 and was sentenced to seven years plus probation last December. He was released on probation on March 3 and absconded on May 6.
“I think (his death) is real. We’ve had a lot of confirmation now,” said Scott Stewart, vice president of TorchStone Global, a private security firm with offices in eight U.S. cities. “He had a lot of enemies just from his time as enforcer with (the Sinaloa cartel). […] But, based on where he was abducted and executed, which is Culiacan, I think it was an internal matter.”
Stewart said it’s clear that El Chino Ántrax got off with a light sentence because he cooperated with U.S. authorities during four and a half years on other ongoing investigations.
“He had to have known that he crossed some people, but I would imagine someone gave him reassurances that it was safe to come home,” Stewart said. “He was set up, basically.”
The double-cross either came from current Sinaloa cartel drug lord Ismael “El Mayor” Zambada or someone high enough in the hierarchy to disagree with him, such as “El Chapo” Guzman’s sons, Stewart said. Guzman himself is serving life in prison in the United States.
It’s also possible that someone connected to his many victims could’ve orchestrated the attack, but that seems improbable given that the hit took place in the heart of Sinaloa cartel territory.
“Based upon the fact that it happened in Culiacan and the way things are locked down now, I don’t think we’re going to have a large group of armed men coming in without the Sinaloa cartel knowing about it,” Stewart said. “It’s just one of those things that you’d think he’d know better than to go back into Culiacan after he cooperated with the U.S. government.”