HomeNewsBriefWhy LatAm Narcos Keep Rising From the Dead
BRIEF

Why LatAm Narcos Keep Rising From the Dead

COLOMBIA / 12 FEB 2016 BY ARRON DAUGHERTY EN

A number of Latin American drug capos have been reported killed only to be later found alive, a phenomenon fueled by authorities as well as the criminals themselves. 

In August 2015 Mexico's Attorney General's Office reported that police had killed José Márquez Balderas, alias "El Chichi, " head of operations for criminal group the Zetas in the coastal city of Veracruz. But six months later the supposedly dead narco was captured in a federal police operation. 

This was not the first time a Mexican drug trafficker was reported dead only to turn up months or even years later, a recent BBC report points out. Similar scenarios have played out with a number of other crime bosses, one of the most famous cases being that of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias "El Chayo." 

A founding member of Mexican drug trafficking group Familia Michoacana and later a leader of the Knights Templar, El Chayo was falsely reported killed by security forces in 2010. In reality El Chayo continued to operate in Mexico and his legend as a "narco-saint" grew until government officials confirmed his death in a 2014 shootout. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of NarcoCulture

In some cases Mexican officials have claimed false death reports were a way to throw drug traffickers off guard in order to capture them, reported the BBC. Authorities are also under tremendous pressure to produce results, an investigator at Mexico's National Institute of Criminal Science told the BBC, which could cause some officials to report deaths before they have been confirmed. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Both criminals and authorities have reasons for wanting a high-profile drug trafficker's death to be reported. 

For authorities, it lends them a degree of credibility and bolsters their reputation as being able to track down and kill powerful drug lords. And as some Mexican officials told the BBC, falsely reporting a drug trafficker's death may enable security forces to hunt criminals with greater ease.  

A falsely reported death can also serve the interests of a drug trafficker. If authorities consider a drug trafficker to be killed, they are certainly not going to expend significant resources and manpower going after the individual.

In addition, seeming invincibility helps build up the mystique of powerful crime figures. The most well-known example is that of El Chayo, but it is not the only one.

In August 2015 rumors began swirling that Colombian narco-guerrilla Victor Ramon Navarro Serrano, alias "Megateo," had been killed by security forces, but authorities confirmed his death following a separate police operation two months later. Megateo cultivated an image as a modern-day "Robin Hood" and enjoyed popular support in areas where he operated, and after his death locals reportedly built a shrine in his honor.  

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EL CHAPO / 19 JUL 2012

US anti-drug officials in Mexico have been accused of pressuring captured drug suspects to claim to be relatives of the…

MEXICO / 26 JAN 2012

Mexico's government upped its offensive against the Zetas with the announcement that five new military bases will be installed…

MEXICO / 1 MAR 2021

An investigation into a criminal group, led by Romanians based in Mexico and specialized in ATM skimming and credit card…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…