The Dark Man Goes Rogue
Im good friends with Mayo Zambada and also with Chapo Guzman
I’m always firm with both flags
I’ve earned respect needless to say
The turf I step on, I control
the fiercest rooster turns timid
anyone doubting, can say it face to face
drop by Culiacan
A passage from a Corrido I’m listening to. the casual listener, might think it was just another song composed for some obscure trafficker. with exaggerated lyrics that are somewhat common in the massively popular genre of Narco Corridos.
Not this one.
The song was written in honor of Gonzalo Inzunza Inzunza. perhaps best known on the street as El Macho Prieto or The Dark Man. Now, something you have to understand about drug traffickers is, there are Narcos that resemble Henry Hill, someone living the outlaw, gangster lifestyle who occasionally has to break someone’s legs or order a hit on a rule breaker, he tries to conduct business with minimal violence and generally hopes for a smooth operation.
They love the limelight not to mention the lifestyle of countless parties, gorgeous women, trips to Vegas where losing $50,000 a night is considered pocket change when you have duffel bags full of $100 bills coming in every week from sales in the north.
Then there are guys like El Macho, who never seemed too concerned about the dandy lifestyle popular with the buchones. He excelled in confrontations, felt right at home among the dark side, the gruesome and hyper violent world of retribution. his circle of cutthroats might have been rough around the edges, but fiercely loyal to their boss. Macho was the muscle that allows a cartel like the one from Sinaloa, to take over large swaths of territory and import more drugs into the U.S. and Europe than any other criminal network in the world. He was more Tony Montana than Michael Corleone and in the violent, unstable world of drug trafficking, his name rang bells.
Macho was born into a middle class family in 1971. his father passed when he was just entering his teenage years. a tragedy that Macho never truly made peace with. His father was a marijuana farmer, the illegal plant afforded the family a modest existence, a few luxuries and schooling. At the age of 19, Macho committed his first murder, a local man had committed a slight against his honor, he confronted the man and emptied the magazine of his 38 super into him in front of horrified guests at an annual town party. He immediately fled the scene before the law could arrive. Macho was now an outlaw.
The 5th month, a covert phrase used by people in the know In Sinaloa and especially the capitol city of Culiacan, use it to refer to the godfather of the Sinaloa cartel. A man believed by many to be the real power behind the trafficking empire. More powerful than the better known El Chapo. Ismael Zambada Garcia most commonly known as El Mayo or The 5th Month. Zamabada has a long history in the Narco business. By the time El Macho celebrated his 1st birthday, Zambada was already deeply involved in the marijuana trade. First as a Hitman and later as a driver of Marijuana and heroin loads going to the U.S.
Somewhere along the way, the two narcos met. Zambada took a liking to the young, rough and tumble gunslinger and soon after convinced him to join his gang.
El Macho’s big break came in 2006, he took over as chief enforcer for the Zambada faction. His orders were to battle the Tijuana cartel for control of turf. A task which produced big gains. Zambada’s drug loads could now move from Sinaloa up through Sonora and into Mexicali with no problems. For a while, the turf under control of El Macho was calm.
The problems began in late 2010 when Macho killed a close friend and associate of another Zambada enforcer, Manuel Torres Felix. Felix was well known and feared within the drug world. years earlier he had personally tortured and killed no less than a dozen men suspected of taking part in the execution of his son. Macho had been given a pass multiple times for causing problems, bad decisions directly linked to his impulsiveness fueled by a cocaine habit he battled since the mid 90s.
Incensed at the killing of a good friend, Felix asked for and was granted permission to kill El Macho. Sensing trouble, Macho hired more gunmen for a possible war. his paranoia was confirmed when a month later, he was informed that an execution squad was traveling north to kill him. He fled Mexicali the same night and went into hiding in Tijuana. Figuring that his compadres wouldn’t think to look there. El Macho began A weapons buying spree, he would need all the fire power he could get his hands on in order to battle Felix. In another instance a convoy was sent to Puerto Penasco with the aim of killing El Macho, he barely escaped the city just before the hitmen were able to locate his safe house. In A lucky turn of events, Felix was killed in a 2012 shootout with soldiers.
It was now 2013 and El Macho’s criminal enterprises were making him a wealthy man. Apart from the sale of his own drug loads, he ran a multi-million dollar car theft ring operating on both sides of the border. He also controlled numerous retail drug operations in more than 4 cities along the pacific coast. All of this success came at the price of other Sinaloa cartel members. He had the tendency to push out fellow traffickers from his own cartel in order to take their business, and then denying it afterwards. Zambada and other bosses were getting frequent complaints from their lieutenants and government officials on the payroll about El Macho’s erratic and violent behavior.
He drew attention needlessly, for example he executed a well known real estate agent that had sold his criminal cell a house. He somehow thought it was her fault his safe house was raided by the army. Or sometimes he would get into a minor scuffle with a civilian that would end up with him shooting the victim in broad day light! He also killed when rules were broken. like the time he ordered the execution of a Mexicali Detective that had stolen more than 100 keys of coke. The detective tuned up dead a week later outside a local college. By now El Macho had at least 80 murders under his belt. Most of which he personally took part in. As one of the cartel’s most effective enforcers, He took on dirty jobs time and time again for the bosses in Culiacan, he was also discarding orders. Zambada was losing control over his war chief more and more each day. Macho’s fate was sealed when he began ripping off drug loads belonging to heavy hitters within the upper crust of the cartel. That was the final straw. Zamabada would no longer protect his former enforcer, who by now had gone rogue. El Macho was a problem that had to be neutralized.
The agenda was set in motion, the countdown to El Macho’s fate with the ultimate showdown had started, but killing him wouldn’t be easy, one of the reasons for El Macho’s success at battling other crime groups was his use of former special forces soldiers that formed most of his hit squads. It was decided the best way to deal with him was to drop a dime on his location to the government.
“He was always cordial, always waved Hi to me” if El Macho was erratic like it was claimed by various associates, the unnamed tourist never noticed it while staying at the Bella Sirena hotel in the coastal city of Puerto Penasco. a popular tourist destination for american ex pats. El Macho had been staying in the pacific coast city on and off for several years. There was another neighbor of El Macho that he didn’t know about. the man moved into a suite just a few doors down from his residence 2 weeks before. the neighbor kept odd hours, rarely talked to anyone and would pace the hallways in the early mornings. what El Macho didn’t know what no one in his inner circle knew, was that the restless neighbor was actually an undercover federal agent tasked with locating the kingpin and keeping detailed reports about his movements.
December 18, 2013. A phone call is made to government contacts, possibly by one of Zambada’s aides. El Macho’s safe house, description of his vehicles and most importantly his phone numbers were provided. A special task force made up of Marines and Federal Police raced towards the city and quickly set up a blockade. They knew El Macho was returning to Puerto Penasco in a 3 SUV convoy and unconfirmed sources say the convoy was also being tracked in real time by american aircraft. At around 4am, they ran into a surprise blockade on the coastal highway they were traveling on. El Macho’s bodyguards immediately opened fire on the Marines and federal agents. one SUV tried to ram its way through the blockade but instead crashed into the side of a building, killing the driver and bursting into flames. Meanwhile a pair of gunmen tried to shoot down a helicopter hovering above. they never stood a chance. the Black Hawk opened up with a heavy machine gun and quickly obliterated both while running on the beach.
It was now just El Macho and a few bodyguards left. holed up inside his villa nearby. An intense shoot out was now roaring right in the middle of a huge hotel/villa complex. terrified residents scrambled to windows, confused as to what was happening. A frazzled Macho demanded the walkie talkie from one of his gunmen. “get down here now! I need backup, they’re about to fuck me over those assholes!” he yelled into the radio. El Macho was scrambling to get reinforcements so he could escape. So far they were able to keep agents at bay. every time the marines and federal agents got close, they were met with an orange burst of fully automatic fire, A 50 caliber rifle and grenades.
3 hours into the shootout, A Marine managed to hit El Macho from a nearby window over looking his position. mortally wounded, He slumped down and passed out. the boss’s reinforcements arrived too late to save him. His gunman were able to open up an escape route. All that was left to do was carry their fallen chief’s body back home. According to marines and federal agents present at the scene, they confirmed El Macho’s death by taking samples of blood found in a walkway where he had been shot. It was a match.
El Macho played the role of the bloodthirsty gangster the way Robert Deniro played Jimmy The Gent. His presence was enough to make his fellow traffickers nervous, He was always on the attack or defending turf, always ordering executions, always in the middle of a war. In the end it wasn’t a rival cartel that killed him, instead it was his own boss that participated in his demise.
His undoing was mistakenly assuming he was above the well oiled machine that was bringing in billions in profit every year. An industry that benefited not only the Narcos but politicians that protected the machine. Intercepted radio calls between 2 gunmen revealed a bitter sweet conversation “We failed you boss, we tried, but we lost you” A final farewell to someone feared, respected and idolized by some. despised by others. soon after, his criminal cell’s radio channel went silent, His surviving gunmen had a new boss, His replacement had already taken over before the crime scene was even cleaned up. The Dark Man now lives on in corridos.