Top drug lord Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Coronel killed by Mexican army

July 31st, 2010 - 1:43 am ICT by BNO News  

GUADALAJARA, MEXICO (BNO NEWS) — Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel Villarreal, one of the most wanted leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, was killed on Thursday during a military operation conducted in the state of Jalisco, the Defense Ministry said.

Nacho Coronel, 56, known as the “King of Ice,” from Canelas, Durango, is considered one of the top three leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, arguably the most powerful drug organization in Mexico.

Military intelligence of Mexico’s National Defense Secretary located two residences in which the wanted man was expected to be hiding at a neighborhood called Colinas de San Javier in Guadalajara, the second biggest city in Mexico.

A military operation carried at around 1:00 p.m. local time (2:00 p.m. EST) that included about 150 soldiers concluded with a violent confrontation and the death of the wanted drug lord.

Armed forces made their way into Nacho Coronel’s bedroom, but he confronted the soldiers and began firing as they entered. He shot and killed the leading man of the operation and wounded a second. Coronel received two shots in the chest area shortly after, finalizing one of the most important victories for President Felipe Calderon’s military initiative, which was launched in 2006, to fight drug trafficking.

Coronel Villarreal was a close associate of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the Sinaloa cartel leader. With large-scale production and trafficking of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine that reached markets throughout Mexico, the U.S., and Europe, the U.S. government offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

Calderon, despite of making his fight against drug trafficking a public action, has been facing strong criticism as several media outlets claimed he had been “protecting” the Sinaloa cartel because the government’s operations against drug traffickers had not made a significant capture against the cartel.

The success of the operation is not only an important victory for the war against drugs in Mexico, politically, it also legitimates Felipe Calderon’s actions.

After the operation, military officials confirmed the identity of Nacho Coronel at the scene. A number of suitcases packed with cash, jewelry, and weapons were found throughout the house, as well as several cars.

Nacho Coronel’s ability to avoid arrest was based on a low-profile lifestyle. Contrary to other important drug traffickers, he was not surrounded by bodyguards, rather his right-hand man, Iran Francisco QuiƱones Gastelum, who surrendered himself as military soldiers raided the residence.

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