Jalisco Cartel co-founder Erick Valencia Salazar, AKA El 85, wins a legal battle against his US extradition

Federal judge grants Jalisco Cartel's Valencia Salazar a pause against his US extradition; rifts and alliances shape his fate.

Erick Valencia Salazar, widely recognized by his alias “El 85,” co-founder of the notorious Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG), has witnessed a temporary pause in his extradition to the U.S. by a federal judge. This move follows the authorization by Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) last August to extradite Valencia Salazar, who is in demand by the U.S. Federal District Court for the District of Columbia on charges of drug trafficking spanning 2003 to 2008.

The halt in proceedings resulted from an injunction filed by Valencia Salazar before Alfonso Alexander López Moreno, who presides over the Fifth District Court for Protection and Federal Trials in the State of Mexico.

El Universal, a leading newspaper, reported on the case, quoting the injunction as saying, “Said precautionary measure is granted, to the effect that the extradition agreement issued on August sixteen, two thousand twenty-three, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is not executed until the definitive suspension is resolved.”

"El 85" was detained in September 2022 (PHOTO: JUAN PABLO ZAMORA /CUARTOSCURO)
“El 85” was detained in September 2022 (PHOTO: JUAN PABLO ZAMORA /CUARTOSCURO)

Behind Bars: The Tale of El 85

After his detention in September 2022, Valencia Salazar has been incarcerated at the Federal Center for Social Readaptation number one, commonly known as El Altiplano. This maximum-security prison is situated in Almoloya de Juarez, State of Mexico.

Valencia Salazar’s recapture occurred in Tapalpa, Jalisco, where he had been vacationing. While at El Altiplano, he was informed of his impending extradition, prompting him to seek legal protection, commonly referred to as amparo in Mexico, with which he succeeded.

Allegiances and Betrayals

Having first faced arrest in 2012, Valencia Salazar experienced a dramatic shift in alliances. He distanced himself from the CJNG, accusing the current leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, or “El Mencho,” of betrayal and pointing fingers at him for his capture.

Following the rift, he aligned himself with the Nueva Plaza Cartel, an organization originally established by Enrique Sanchez Martinez, nicknamed “El Cholo.” However, the latter met a violent end, being assassinated by CJNG members in March 2021.

It remains to be seen how the unfolding dynamics between these criminal organizations will shape the future of Valencia Salazar’s extradition and the broader drug trafficking narrative.