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General Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo: Mexican general who became a drugs czar but who was convicted of aiding a powerful narcotics cartel


Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo was a Mexican general who became a drug czar whose career ended in disgrace thanks to his arrest and conviction for aiding a powerful drug cartel. The general, one of the highest-level officials to have been convicted of drug-trafficking in Mexico, was hailed as a seasoned general of “impeccable integrity”.

But his celebrated career, which peaked when President Ernesto Zedillo appointed him head of Mexico’s anti-drug agency, crumbled two months later when police arrested him in February 1997. He was found to be living in a luxury apartment owned by cocaine kingpin Amado Carrillo Fuentes, also known as the “Lord of the Skies.”

Gutierrez Rebollo was first convicted of drug trafficking, racketeering and corruption and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Later, prosecutors got an additional 31 years for delivering military firearms to traffickers. However, in 2011, a court reduced his sentence back to 40 years and gave him back his military title. He inspired the character of the Mexican drug czar in Steven Soderbergh’s 2000 film Traffic.

He was not the last high-ranking official to fall from grace. Another drug czar, Noe Ramirez, was charged with aiding organised crime after he was arrested in 2008 as part of the former President Felipe Calderon’s sweeping efforts to root out corruption. A judge ordered Ramirez’s release from a maximum-security prison earlier this year, arguing that the main witness in the case had lied and that prosecutors might have fabricated evidence.

Rebollo’s son said he will file a posthumous appeal seeking to have his father acquitted of the charges.

José de Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo, soldier: born 19 April 1934; died 19 December 2013.