Mexican drug lord Moises Escamilla who ruthlessly beheaded 12 men dies from coronavirus in prison

Nicknamed 'El Gordo May' or 'Fat May', he was a high-ranking member of the much-feared Los Zetas gang


                            Mexican drug lord Moises Escamilla who ruthlessly beheaded 12 men dies from coronavirus in prison
(Ministry of Public Security, Mexico)

A Mexican drug lord died in prison after he was diagnosed with coronavirus after spending a decade in confinement for a string of decapitations.

Moises Escamilla May, 45, nicknamed “El Gordo May” which means “Fat May” in English, was a high-ranking member of the much-feared Los Zetas gang. He passed away at a maximum-security prison in the state of Jalisco after he showed signs of coronavirus, like severe breathing problems, the Sun reported. 

Before his death, he was serving a 37-year jail sentence for organized crime, including weapons and drug offenses and his role in the decapitation of 12 people in Yucatán in August 2008. He also oversaw the distribution of cocaine in Cancun. Although he died on May 8, the news of his death was only recently made public. 

During the time that he was imprisoned, he was identified as the regional leader of 'Old School Zetas,' which forms part of the Los Zetas criminal cartel. Once hailed as one of the most dangerous of Mexico’s drug cartels, one of the main operations of the Los Zetas was smuggling cocaine via maritime routes from Central America into Cancún. Other criminal activities included kidnapping, extortion, sex trafficking, and gun running rackets. 

With time, however, the influence of Los Zetas diminished as it became fragmented. Army deserters who began to work for the Gulf Cartel started the gang before going their own ways to form their own respective cartels as time went by. After the gang's former leader Omar Trevino Morales, alias Z-42, was captured, the cartel split into two factions and fought each other for ultimate dominance in the illegal drug-dealing business till 2018.

May and the eight members in his group formed the strongest criminal organization in the Cancún area when he was arrested back in 2008. Among his informants were members of the local police force.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Mexico has more than 35,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 3,465 deaths so far. Although the number is much lesser than the United States, the rate of coronavirus testing in Mexico is low, which means that the true number of cases could be much higher.

As for the prisons in Latin America, the conditions in which inmates are kept are dire, which means that they could quickly become hotbeds of coronavirus as it is almost impossible for prisoners to practice social distancing, the United Nations has warned, BBC reported. This has led to widespread riots in Venezuela, Peru, and Colombia, where inmates demanded better living conditions which would prevent them from contracting the virus.

To prevent overcrowding in prisons in the middle of a pandemic, Mexico passed an Amnesty law to allow some inmates to go free during the pandemic. However, the law has been criticized by a number of activists as they claimed that it has not had far-reaching impact, enough to make a difference.

The Puente Grande maximum-security prison in Jalisco state, where May was confined in before his death, has had 74 reported coronavirus cases among the inmates, the local reports said.

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