Juan Esparragoza, known as El Azul (Blue) because his skin was deemed so dark it looked blue, has died of a heart attack, the intrepid Rio Doce newspaper, of Culiacan Sinaloa, is reporting.
Esparragoza, 65, was within the very highest eschelon of the Sinaloa Cartel, though he assiduously avoided the spotlight.
His death is notable for that reason, but also because, as so rarely happens in the drug world, he died free and of natural causes.
The Cartel was already rocked a while back by the capture of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Esparragoza apparently died attempting rise from a bed a couple weeks after an auto accident in which he injured his spinal column. So sources tell Rio Doce.
He was from the now-legendary county (municipio) of Badiraguato in Sinaloa, a place that has spawned many of the top Mexican drug cartel leaders, including Guzman. For a while he was the FBI’s second most wanted man, after Osama bin-Laden.