How a Mexican Drug Kingpin Became a Top FBI Informant

How a Mexican Drug Kingpin Became a Top FBI InformantLead image via Maggie Ybarra (El Paso Times). Written by Julian Kimble (@JRK316).

Back in August of 2010, 34-year-old Jesus Audel Miramontes-Varela was arrested in Albuquerque, N.M. after the FBI flagged him as the head of the Miramontes-Varela Drug Trafficking Organization and with ties to the Juarez, Sinaloa and Los Zetas cartels. After extensive research, they discovered that his cartel had stolen tractors in the U.S. and driven them to Mexico as payment for lost loads of drugs, including a $670,000 debt.

The ATF was after him as well, after tracing $250,000 worth of illegal gun purchases to Miramontes-Varela and his brother as part of an Arizona-based gun-smuggling ring. The feds had caught Miramontes-Varela dirty, so he did what a surprising number of drug kingpins do when the jig is up—he turned informant. But what would make a man who allegedly (and famously) fed a victim to one of his lions become one of the FBI's top informants? He grew weary of the life. We guess he never heard Jay-Z's decree that made men aren't supposed to make statements.

Back in 2002, Miramontes-Varela says he was offered a job by the Juarez cartel collecting a monthly $35,000 "tax" from marijuana growers in Namiquipa. About every 15 days, growers took 20 tons to local warehouses, and it was shipped to El Paso. One day, the military showed up and gunfight left the mayor and town treasurer dead.

In 2008, Miramontes-Varela says he and his family escaped to El Paso. When he didn't return, the cartel burned his ranch and stole all 120 of his cows. That's exactly when he knew it was time to step away from the drug game. 

After being caught, Miramontes-Varela told authorities about routes were weed and coke were sent to California, New York and the Great Lakes. He told them about the 30 people shot to death at a race track in Mexico, and he told them about the secret tomb holding about 20 bodies, including two U.S. citizens (lead image). He even told them about his African lions, which he got when they were just circus cubs, though he claims the story of feeding a foe to them is false.

A week after his arrest, Miramontes-Varela pleaded guilty to a small felony—an illegal immigrant in possession of a firearm. Soon after, he presumably vanished into the Witness Protection Program. It's a fate that many former Dons are resigned to after seeing too much of the game that they don't like. You can ether Miramontes-Varela for singing like a Canary all you want, but realize that there are three typical outcomes for drug-dealers: prison, death or snitching.

Sometimes, it's all three.

[via The Los Angeles Times]

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