Early on September 9th, outside the clinic of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) in Culiacán’s Infonavit Humaya neighborhood, a chilling discovery was made. An anonymous call had directed local authorities to a man’s body on Enrique Cabrera Boulevard. The scene painted a grim picture: the man lay face up, dressed in black with only one shoe on, his other foot bandaged. Intriguingly, a pistol and a communication radio were found on him.
As news spread, speculations began to rise. Local media and social networks were abuzz with the possibility that the deceased might be none other than Luis Javier Benítez Espinoza, also known as El 14 or El Fourteen. The 30 to 35-year-old man of robust build was no ordinary person but a significant player in the drug trade.
Benítez Espinoza was allegedly linked to the Los Chapitos faction of the Sinaloa Cartel. His reputation? One of the primary traffickers of fentanyl to the U.S. The DEA even had a photo of him on their radar.
A controversial past
The U.S. State Department had accused him of orchestrating a fentanyl pill deal with a buyer from the States. “In September 2022, Luis Javier Benitez Espinoza, alias El Catorce, began negotiating the sale of fentanyl pills to a buyer in the United States. He claimed affiliation with the ‘Chapitos’, discussing his previous collaborations with infamous figures like Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar and Oscar Noe Medina Gonzalez, alias Panu,” the department revealed.
- José Adrián Enríquez, AKA El Rayder, indicted for his alleged involvement in LeBarón massacre
- Jose Luis Flores Gonzalez, AKA El Rulex of the Beltran Leyva Cartel, receives a 213-year sentence in Guerrero
- “El Pizzero” from Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel is found guilty of the murder of journalist Israel Vázquez
Further adding to his notoriety, the U.S. government had identified Espinoza as a key figure in weapon trafficking for Los Chapitos. His audacious activities didn’t stop there. By December 2022, he had allegedly supplied around 10,000 fentanyl pills to couriers heading to San Diego, all for a bank transfer of roughly $4,600. Unfortunately for him, these pills were seized by the DEA upon their arrival in January 2023.
A federal indictment followed this in April 2023, where Espinoza and several others were charged with several crimes, including conspiracies to import and traffic fentanyl, possession of machine guns, and money laundering.
While the circumstances surrounding the body outside the IMSS clinic are suspicious, authorities have yet to confirm its identity as Luis Javier Benítez Espinoza. This leaves the community and the nation in suspense as investigations continue.