Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo (Don Neto) – Facts About The Mexican Drug Lord

The Mexico-United States border extending from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Gulf of Mexico has been historically a beehive of the illicit smuggling of narcotics and other hard drugs for as long as the American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been functional. Very few people have contributed more to the growth of drug cartels and drug trafficking into the United States than Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo popularly known in some quarters as Don Neto.


Born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Badiraguato, Sinaloa, Mexico, there are disparities in his date of birth. While the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), claim he was born in 1942, other sources within Mexico are of the opinion he was born twelve years earlier on August 1, 1930. Whatever the arguments are concerning his date of birth, every available record alludes to the fact that his early years were spent in the crime-ridden neighborhoods of Badiraguato, a small town in northern Mexico.

Growing up in a vicinity notorious for criminality, vices and drug trafficking, it was only a matter of time before the young Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo got involved in the thriving enterprise. Since Badiraguato was already home to drug lords such as Joaquín Guzmán, the young man had just the right tutelage to evolve successfully in a life of crime.

His earliest involvement in organized crime as a young man was his membership of the Aviles cartel which ran most of the drug traffic in the region. The Aviles Cartel was led by Pedro Avilés Pérez whose nickname was The Mountain Lion. He was the foremost among the pioneer generation of drug dealers in Mexico and laid down a marker in smuggling, gun-running, drug trafficking. He was the first to use an aircraft to smuggle drugs to the US.

When Pedro Avilés Pérez was shot by police on September 15, 1978, his understudy Fonseca Carrillo seized the opportunity to assert his influence in the Sinaloa region’s undercover trade. With his understanding of the terrain, he took over the existing drug routes and expanded them, stamping his authority on all transactions.

In a bid to gain more territory and expand his tentacles into the foreign market, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo (Don Neto) teamed up with Rafael Caro Quintero and Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo to form the famed Guadalajara Cartel.

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The Guadalajara Cartel under Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, Rafael Caro Quintero, and Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo sought to link Colombian cartels with the US. He charged the Colombians 50% for helping transport their cocaine to the States. The Guadalajara Cartel maintained its supremacy by reaching agreements with Security agencies such as the ‘DFS,’ then headed by Miguel Nazar Haro for security protection and cover.

Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo and his cohorts ran into more trouble than they bargained for when they were indicted for the kidnap and murder of  DEA Agent Enrique Camarena.

Facts About The Mexican Drug Lord Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo


Based on the fact that most of his business dealings were illicit, it is difficult to narrow down the net worth of Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo. To have a clearer picture of his earnings will require an analysis of the transactions of the Guadalajara Cartel. As far back as the ’80s, the cartel was estimated to be making $5 billion annually. Bearing in mind that he was part of a three-man leadership of the group, it is safe to say that he got a huge chunk of that sum.


The first opportunity for Don Neto’s arrest came in 1982 in San Diego but before The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) could get to him, he fled the country. Three years later, his Puerto Vallarta Villa was raided by the Mexican Army on April 7, 1985, and he was finally arrested.

Imprisonment /Controversial Release

Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo
Don Neto’s residence in Atizapán de Zaragoza.image source

After years of eluding law enforcement, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo Fonseca was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment out of which he successfully served 31 years. However, in July 2016, his family through his lawyers got him out of jail and placed under house arrest on health grounds. They cited multiple ailments including colon cancer and glaucoma. His house arrest was meant to end in 2025.

Fonseca was sent to Valle Escondido, a luxurious residential building guarded by four federal police officers and had an electronic monitoring bracelet fastened to him. However, in 2017 his family got the Judges to finally allow him to move about without monitoring citing his age.


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