Former Los Zetas and Gulf Cartel narco leader Eleazar Medina Rojas, AKA El Chalelo, indicted in the US

Extradited Mexican kingpin faces life imprisonment if convicted in unprecedented US trial over cocaine and marijuana smuggling.

The U.S. Department of Justice informed that this Friday, July 7, Eleazar Medina Rojas, alias El Chalelo, former leader of the Los Zetas Cartel and the Gulf Cartel, was indicted on drug trafficking charges.

In a statement, the Justice Department stated, “Medina Rojas is charged with one count of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana with the intent and knowledge that those substances would be imported into the United States”.

The U.S. government said that if El Chalelo is found guilty, he could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Eleazar Medina Rojas fue miembro de alto rango de Los Zetas, una organización internacional de narcotraficantes aliada con el Cartel del Golfo. Foto: Departamento de Justicia
Eleazar Medina Rojas was a high-ranking member of Los Zetas, an international drug trafficking organization allied with the Gulf Cartel. Photo: Department of Justice

The Justice Department, citing court documents, mentions that between 2000 and 2010, Eleazar Medina Rojas was a high-ranking member of Los Zetas, an international drug trafficking organization allied with the Gulf Cartel.

Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, collectively known as La Compañía, was a violent transnational drug trafficking organization based in Mexico that engaged in the manufacture, distribution, and importation of tons of cocaine and marijuana from Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Panama, and elsewhere to the United States,” it said.

The U.S. government added that El Chalelo was also the plaza chief of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, “controlling the Zeta s drug trafficking activities in that area.”

Medina Rojas had been wanted by US authorities since 2013 after a grand jury in the District of Columbia issued a fourth indictment against the former leader of the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas in May.

El Chelelo fue detenido en mayo del 2018 en un fraccionamiento de Mérida, Yucatán.
(Foto: especial)
El Chelelo was arrested in May 2018 in a subdivision in Mérida, Yucatán. (Photo: Special)

El Chelelo was arrested in May 2018 in a subdivision in Mérida, Yucatán, for an alleged traffic infraction after he identified himself with a false driver’s license, for which he was referred to the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Yucatán Prosecutor’s Office, who gave notice to federal authorities.


A strong police operation was deployed in the area to prevent acts of violence due to his arrest. When he was presented before a control judge to request his preventive detention, Medina Rojas assured that he was tortured by the agents of the Public Security Department and that he was taken to his house in Merida, which he had been living in for five months, to threaten his wife.

The Justice Department assured that the arrest of this former leader of the Los Zetas and Gulf Cartel was by a provisional arrest requested by the United States.

“Medina Rojas was detained in Mexico pending extradition. He was extradited from Mexico to the United States on July 6 (2013),” the US government detailed.

Las autoridades federales también vinculan a "El Chelelo" con Los Zetas.
Federal authorities also link “El Chelelo” to the Zetas.

According to Insight Crime, the Gulf Cartel is one of Mexico’s oldest and most powerful criminal groups, although it has lost territory and influence in recent years.

“In its heyday, its leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen came to be considered the most powerful capo in the underworld, and its armed wing, Los Zetas, the most feared gang in the country.

The media outlet notes that Los Zetas began as a group made up of Special Forces deserters in the service of the Gulf Cartel, although they later split off to become a drug cartel.

“Their military training and unbridled fury would change the rules of the game in Mexico’s underworld and even lead the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to describe them as “the most technologically advanced, sophisticated and violent paramilitary group.”