Organized crime leader José Noriel Portillo Gil, AKA “El Chueco,” alleged murderer of Jesuit priests and civilians, found dead in Sinaloa

The hitman has been accused of several crimes, including the mistaken murder of an American professor who was visiting Mexico.

This Wednesday, the lifeless body of José Noriel Portillo Gil, alias “El Chueco,” was found. He has been identified as the alleged murderer of two Jesuit priests and two civilians in the community of Cerocahui, in the municipality of Urique, which occurred last June. Agents from the State Agency of Investigations (AEI) traveled to Sinaloa to carry out the first investigations into the identity of the body found.

According to the first versions, the hitman known as“El Chueco” was found in Sinaloa after escaping from the community of Urique. Hours after the discovery was made public, the Attorney General of Chihuahua, César Jáuregui Moreno, offered a press conference in which he said: “Although I already have references of the identification of the body by Diana Carolina Portillo, who is the sister of this subject, we will not be able to give for confirmed, with all reliability until we do not have scientific evidence that proves that the body that is at this moment in the Semefo of the city of Los Mochis corresponds to that of “El Chueco,” until that moment, the Prosecutor’s Office will confirm 100 percent that it is this subject”.

"El Chueco" would have finally been murdered. | PHOTO: Special
“El Chueco” would have finally been murdered. | PHOTO: Special

El Chueco” was linked to the murder of a U.S. schoolteacher

José Noriel Portillo Gil, alias “El Chueco,” is known for being one of the most feared organized crime leaders in the Sierra Tarahumara area. Locals used to see him in the streets of Bauichivo, San Rafael, and Cerocahui in the municipality of Urique. Still, he attracted attention by traveling in armored and recent model cars.

In 2018, he was charged with the murder of U.S. national Spanish teacher Patrick Braxton-Andrew, as allegedly, the criminal group he led believed he was an undercover agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) since during his stay he showed interest in the culture of the region and asked quite a few questions about it in Spanish, another detail for which he seemed suspicious to them.

The professor was mistaken for a DEA agent. | PHOTO: Twitter @findPBA
The professor was mistaken for a DEA agent. | PHOTO: Twitter @findPBA

On the day of his disappearance, on October 27, 2018, he attended a party with armed subjects. It was on November 17, 2018, when his body was found lifeless, according to the then governor of Chihuahua, Javier Corral, the 34-year-old professor was murdered in the municipality of Urique at the hands of “El Chueco” and the homicide he described as cowardly and brutal since then he referred that they would work on his capture, which did not happen.

Other crimes attributed to “El Chueco.”

However, a year earlier, in September 2017, it was made known that an armed group attacked the command of the State Security Commission in the municipal capital of Urique. The State Attorney General’s Office(FGE) attributed the attack to the group led by “El Chueco,” which was identified as an armed wing of the Sinaloa Cartel. It should be recalled that months earlier, in April, it was believed that José Noriel had been killed at a 15th birthday party. However, weeks later, he was seen again in the region.

On June 21, 2022, the bloody murder of two Jesuit priests and a tour guide in their temple in the indigenous community of Cerocahui, Chihuahua, was announced. The victims were 79-year-old Javier Campos Morales, 81-year-old Joaquín César Mora Salazar, and the tour guide Pedro Eliodoro Palma Gutiérrez. It was the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits of Mexico, who denounced the murders and demanded justice, as well as the recovery of the bodies of the victims, which armed men took.

José Noriel Portillo Gil alias "El Chueco" was part of an armed group known to be the armed wing of the Sinaloa Cartel. | PHOTO: Special
José Noriel Portillo Gil, alias “El Chueco,” was part of an armed group known as the Sinaloa Cartel’s armed wing. | PHOTO: Special

Again, these events were attributed to “El Chueco” according to the official version of the State Government, there were two different events: “Last Monday the report was attended, in which we were informed that José Noriel Portillo Gil alias “El Chueco” arrived at a home in Cerocahui to locate Paul “B,” an inhabitant of the community since days before a baseball game had taken place in which a team sponsored by the mentioned “Chueco” participated ” pointed out the then Attorney General of Chihuahua, Roberto Fierro.

He also pointed out that after being defeated, where brothers Paul and Armando “B” were competing. According to the versions of several witnesses, “El Chueco” fired a gun at Paul “B” and deprived Armando “B” of his freedom. Later, he set fire to the house. On the other hand, a woman and a minor were reported to have been deprived of their freedom, and both are related to the victims. However, after the authorities’ investigations, it was established that they had left the place and were found safe and sound.

Two Jesuit priests and a tourist guide were murdered last June. | PHOTO: Special
Two Jesuit priests and a tourist guide were murdered last June. | PHOTO: Special

The second event occurred hours later. The tourist guide, Pedro Eliodoro Palma, interacted with “El Chueco” in a hotel and was later deprived of his freedom. Still, according to the official version based on witnesses’ testimonies, he escaped. He arrived at the town’s temple, where he was helped by the priests, who, for this reason, were killed by firearm projectile, and their bodies were taken by “El Chueco.”