The Lord of the Skies

In the new season of Narcos, the Cali Cartel’s partner in Mexico, Amado Carrillo Fuentes aka “el señor de los cielos,” is introduced as a playboy smuggler going over the logistics of the cocaine trade with Pacho Herrera. A scene that mirrors real life, as the Lord of the Skies played a crucial role in the Cali Cartel’s success in building their cocaine empire. By transforming a bunch of cowboy smugglers into narco-businessmen and turning the emerging Juarez Cartel into a ruthless powerhouse in the drug game, the Lord of the Skies became a revered figure in the chronicles of cartel lore. 

“Amado Carrillo Fuentes is one of the biggest legends among Mexican drug traffickers,” Ioan Grillo, the author of  Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields, and the New Politics of Latin America, tells Penthouse. “Right below the fame level of Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman himself. His legend was not only boosted by countless songs, but by one of the first successful narco soap operas in Mexico, El Señor de los Cielos.”

As an important business partner of the Cali Cartel, Carrillo developed a close relationship with Miguel Rodriguez after his brother Gilberto was imprisoned. They had disagreements, but it never interfered with business. And when the Cali Cartel went down, the Lord of the Skies was just taking off. The first well-publicized cartel boss in Mexico and the bridge from Pablo Escobar to El Chapo.

“He invested in a fleet of Boeing 727s.” Shaun Attwood, author of theWar on Drugs series, tells Penthouse. “With their seats removed, they transported tons of cocaine into Mexico from Colombia. They were too big to send to America, so he used small aircraft and even became a shareholder in an air taxi company, which used Cessna’s. A master of moving cocaine around in the air,” Carrillo was granted the nom-de-guerre, Lord of the Skies.

Born into the heart of the Sinaloan drug trafficking world, Carrillo grew up in the narco stronghold of Navolato, the nephew of kingpin Ernesto “Don Neto” Fonseca. “He rose through the ranks, bringing dope from Mexico into Texas,” Grillo relates. “Eventually establishing himself as the top dog in Ciudad Juarez,” as the city developed into a major smuggling corridor.

“Carrillo operated as a big-time drug trafficker in Mexico from the 1980s to the mid-1990s,” Ron Chepesiuk, the author of Lord of the Skies, tells Penthouse. “As a member of the Guadalajara Cartel, he oversaw the cocaine shipments of his uncle, Don Neto. He became a protege of drug trafficker Rafael Aguilar Guajardo, but eventually murdered him and took over his criminal organization,” the Juarez Cartel.

Taking advantage of this drug trafficking route by building a fleet of planes and maximizing the amount of cocaine he could bring from Colombia to the United States. The Lord of the Skies was  one of the wealthiest drug lords in the history of the drug game. Controlling a major smuggling corridor into the United States at a very lucrative time. He was also said to have top officials on his payroll, including Mexico’s drug czar. 

“I went to the court martial of two generals for drug trafficking,” Grillo says. “And a witness described one of the generals personally meeting Carrillo at a restaurant in Mexico City.” The Lord of the Skies is legendary, one of the really first really big Mexican drug dealers in the country’s history with truly international connections. Instead of using vehicles to smuggle drugs across the border in small quantities, he was able to move it across the border by the ton in jumbo jets. Generating tremendous profits for himself and his partners. 

“In this way he acerbated the drug problem in the US and made himself the richest drug trafficker in Mexican history, until El Chapo Guzman showed up on the drug scene in a big way.” Chepesiuk says. “At the time of his death his fortune was estimated to be in the $25 billion range. Carrillo’s biggest challenge was not moving drugs, but trying to find effective ways to launder his money.” 

Until his death in 1997, the Lord of the Skies ruled supreme and ruthlessly over Mexico’s criminal underworld. His legend was enhanced by the strange circumstances surrounding his alleged death. A botched plastic surgery operation, where he was undergoing facial reconstruction and abdominal liposuction. Unable to believe that his own vanity had killed him, his family sanctioned the torture of those involved in the surgery to find out whether he had been assassinated.

“Four months later, the corpses of three famous plastic surgeons were found in barrels with cement.” Attwood says. “Their eyes had been gouged out and their bones broken before they had been executed. Some Mexicans believe he is still alive and that he faked his own death.” Others believe he was assassinated by the Mexican government, rival traffickers or the CIA. 

By utilizing planes to smuggle larger and larger amounts of cocaine, the Lord of the Skies became one of the first real narco-tycoons that led to the prominence of Mexican Cartels as they took over from the Colombians. Getting the lions share of profits and using the length of Mexican border to avoid detection and successfully smuggle drugs into the US. This laid the foundation for the bloodbath that would consume Mexico in the 2000s and still rages on today. The direct legacy of men like Amado Carrillo Fuentes.  

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