MCALLEN, Texas – A Gulf Cartel commander who at one time commanded a strike team of 60 trucks with as many as 240 gunmen will spend 50 years in federal prison. His brother, also a cartel commander, will spend 35 years in federal prison.
Jose Luis “Comandante Wicho or XW” Zuniga Hernandez, his brother Armando Arizmendi “Comandante Mando or XW2” Hernandez along with another commander and a high ranking operative had originally been arrested on October 27, 2011 by U.S. Border Patrol agents near the Rio Grande. The drug capos had been hiding out following a fierce firefight in Mexico with a rival faction of the Gulf Cartel court records obtained by Breitbart Texas revealed. Zuniga answered directly to Gulf Cartel top boss Jorge Eduardo “El Coss” Costilla
U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle sentenced Zuniga and Hernandez for their leadership role in a large scale drug trafficking conspiracy responsible for ton quantities of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine coming into the U.S., information provided to Breitbart Texas by the U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed. The cocaine was smuggled into Mexico using airplanes and clandestine airstrips to fly drugs from Central and South America.
The sentence of the two feared Gulf Cartel capos was heightened because in order to further their criminal empire they used gunmen equipped with machine guns, grenades, makeshift cannons and wearing body armor to provide security for them.
Zuniga had been in charge of the area known as Control Ramirez but had assumed control of the border city of Matamoros following the death of cartel boss Antonio “Tony Tormenta” Cardenas Guillen on November 6, 2011. Just months later in March 28, 2011 Rafael “Comandante Junior” Cardenas Vela, Tormenta’s nephew moved into Matamoros to take over the plaza. Soon after Cardenas moved in, friction between him and Zuniga and his boss led to all-out war resulting in multiple cartel commanders and soldiers seeking refuge in America
As Breitbart Texas previously reported, cartel capos have often sought refuge in America where they try to keep a low profile. In October 2014, multiple Gulf Cartel commanders ended up getting arrested or turning themselves in to authorities following even more friction which turned into another war within the criminal organization.