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Meet Vicente Carrillo Leyva, The Boarding School-Educated ‘Narco Junior’ Who Helped Run The Juárez Cartel After His Father

Meet Vicente Carrillo Leyva, The Boarding School-Educated 'Narco Junior' Who Helped Run The Juárez Cartel After His Father

Vicente Carrillo Leyva was advised by his infamous father, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, to avoid the family business — but he couldn’t resist and was arrested for his crimes in 2009.

It’s common for family members to follow similar paths, but for the Leyva family, their work wasn’t in traditional fields like medicine or law. They were deeply involved in the illegal drug trade, specifically with the brutal Juárez Cartel.

Vicente Carrillo Leyva’s father, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, was known as the “Lord of the Skies” or “El Señor de los Cielos.” After his father’s death during a failed plastic surgery procedure, his uncle, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, became his mentor. Surprisingly, despite his deep involvement in the cartel, Leyva’s father never wanted his son to follow the same path.

Vicente Carrillo Leyva’s Life As A Cartel Son

Amado Carrillo Fuentes started from humble beginnings as the son of a modest landowner. His uncle, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, led the Guadalajara Cartel and influenced Fuentes to join the business at 12.

In contrast, Vicente Carrillo Leyva had a privileged life. He was one of the “narco juniors,” heirs to the cartels of their grandparents and parents. These individuals enjoyed their family’s wealth, attended prestigious schools and universities, wore designer clothing, and spoke multiple languages.

Vicente Carrillo Leyva studied electrical engineering at universities in Spain and Switzerland. At 17, he purchased his first home in the exclusive area of La Colonia Americana, Guadalajara. Known as “The Engineer” by cartel members, Leyva had expensive tastes, even designing his luxury home to resemble a Versace boutique.

Despite his father’s hopes for a different future, Vicente Carrillo Leyva couldn’t resist the allure of the family business.

Vicente Carrillo Leyva Enters The Family Business

After his father’s death in 1997 due to a botched plastic surgery, Vicente Carrillo Leyva joined the family business in a different role. Unlike his father and uncles, Leyva didn’t handle drugs directly. Instead, he focused on laundering money from his father’s cartel, trying to clean up his father’s affairs.

Soon after his father’s passing, “The Engineer” visited various houses owned by his father to recover hidden cash. Within months, he retrieved over $7 million, including an astonishing $400,000 from a single house. Leyva then sold three of his father’s “safe houses” and split the proceeds among himself and his siblings, each ending up with about $1 million in cash.

Unfortunately, Leyva’s actions didn’t stop there. He spread his share of the money into multiple bank accounts, all opened under false names with his wife. When authorities discovered this scheme, Vicente Carrillo Leyva was arrested and charged with money laundering, serving over seven years in prison.

When taken into custody in April 2009, Vicente Carrillo Leyva hardly looked like a cartel boss. He was seen wearing stylish glasses and Abercrombie & Fitch clothes, much like the spoiled “narco junior” he was.

Vicente Carrillo Leyva Disappears

After his release from prison in 2018, Vicente Carrillo Leyva seemingly vanished from the public eye, sparking speculation about his whereabouts. The Los Angeles Times eventually provided some answers.

In August 2020, Leyva’s brother, César Carrillo Leyva, who was expected to inherit their father’s drug empire, was murdered. Authorities believe the Sinaloa cartel, led by Ovidio Guzmán López, Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar — all “narco juniors” like Leyva — ordered the hit.

What made the murder even more shocking was that, since his release from prison, the Sinaloa cartel had been searching for “El Ingeniero” (as Leyva was known) but couldn’t find him. The Los Angeles Times reported that Leyva had become an informant for the United States’ Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in exchange for clearing his prison record.

It’s also believed that Vicente Carrillo Leyva leaked information about his brother to the DEA, who then passed it on to the cartels, leading to César’s death. As a result, the cartels are still actively searching for Leyva. However, he remains safely anonymous, enrolled in the United States government’s witness protection program, living under a new identity.

Learn more about the infamous father, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, and explore the extravagant lives of cartel members through their outrageous social media photos.

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