Jesús Héctor Palma Salazar, known as “El Güero Palma” and a founder of the Pacific Cartel, will be released next Saturday June 11, at the end of his prison term for drug related crimes, according to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons.
He is currently held at the high security prison of Atwater in California, after his extradition from Mexico in 2007.
His term was reduced to 16 years when he declared himself guilty and will be released next weekend after nine years in prison.
Palma was arrested in June 23, 1995, after a 12-seat Lear jet in which he was flying to attend a wedding party crash-landed.
Palma was traveling from Ciudad Obregón, Sonora to Guadalajara, Jalisco for a wedding ceremony when the jet was diverted and unable to locate a new landing strip in time.
Palma survived the crash-landing and was later arrested by Mexican military officers; he originally evaded capture by traveling in full uniform as a Federal Judicial Police (PJF) officer complete with identification and an armed caravan of PJF personnel.
Paradoxically, Palma-Salazar, aka El Guero (“Blondie” in English), is scheduled to walk out of California’s Atwater high-security prison around the same time that El Chapo, the man who he allegedly co-founded the Sinaloa Cartel with, is being processed for extradition to the U.S.
The two narcos go way back, allegedly teaming up in the ’90s to wage war against the Tijuana Cartel’s infamous Arellano Felix brothers.
Palma was netted in Mexico over a decade ago and extradited to the U.S. in 2007. He pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Now he’s scheduled to walk on June 11 “via Good Conduct Time Release,” according to a spokesperson for the Atwater prison.
“This does not mean his sentence is shortened for good behavior, rather it is a method of release,” the prison official told news website fusion.net
It’s unclear if the former drug kingpin will be deported, or whether he still faces charges in Mexico. It’s not even clear if Mexican authorities are even aware that Palma will be a free man in less than a week—just nine years after they extradited him to the U.S.
Former Mexico-based DEA agent Ralph Villaruel told fusion.net:
“When released out of prison, Palma might just stay out of the drug business or get involved in it again, and they will probably go after him cause they’ll see him as a threat, let’s keep in mind that when Francisco Arellano Felix got out of jail in the U.S. and went back to Mexico he got killed.”
The former agent says old-school narcos can often find themselves at odds with the younger generations of drug bosses who play by their own set of rules.