MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A top drug-trafficking accomplice of Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman was arrested in Mexico on Wednesday for his alleged role in two murders, shortly after he was returned from the United States after completing a prison sentence for distributing cocaine.
Hector ‘El Guero’ Palma was a former partner of Guzman, the head of the powerful Sinaloa cartel who is now fighting extradition to the United States from a Mexican prison.
Palma was rearrested by officials on his repatriation to Mexico for his “probable responsibility in two homicides” that occurred in the small Pacific state of Nayarit, according to a statement from the attorney general’s office. Further details were not immediately available.
He was transferred to the Altiplano maximum security prison, from which his fellow drug lord Guzman managed to escape last year before being recaptured.
In the absence of Guzman, Mexican officials appear to be increasingly wary of Palma, given his ties to the Sinaloa cartel.
Palma, who first served five years in Mexico’s maximum-security Puente Grande prison, was extradited to the United States in 2007. He played a key role in the cartel, which became famous in the 1980s for trafficking cocaine from Colombia in association with the late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Palma served most of a 16-year sentence, which was reduced because of good behavior, said Kristi Rodriguez, from the U.S. penitentiary in Atwater, California.
Reporting by Anahi Rama, Lizbeth Diaz and Natalie Schachar; Editing by Simon Gardner, Peter Cooney and Michael Perry