“Socalj” for Borderland Beat

A federal judge stopped the extradition to the United States of Jorge Iván Gastelum Ávila, also known as “El Cholo Iván”, who was the head of security for Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and was the leader of hitmen for the Sinaloa Cartel.

At the last minute, Iván Gastelum promoted a new Amparo against his imminent surrender to the Americans, after a Collegiate Court refused to grant him protection against his extradition.

Juan Mateo Brieba de Castro, Sixth District Judge of Amparo in Criminal Matters, admitted the demand for guarantees for processing and decreed the ex officio suspension in favor of El Cholo Iván so that he is not handed over to the Americans, he will remain in the federal prison of Oaxaca. This measure will delay his extradition for days, at least.

The judge gave Jorge Iván Gastelum 5 days to clarify his claim for Amparo that stated: “Lack of powers from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to authorize his delivery for international extradition purposes as a result of the request made by the government of the United States of America; and the execution of the extradition order granted to the Government of the United States of America” (sic).

A few days ago, the Fourth Collegiate Court in Criminal Matters of the Second Circuit confirmed that Ivan was denied protection from the US Department of Justice who has stated he is the person responsible for issuing orders to assassinate members of rival cartels and confront the law enforcement authorities.

Past Extradition Proceedings

Since Ivan was arrested alongside “El Chapo” in January 2016, several back-and-forth attempts to have him extradited have taken place. He technically gained his freedom, temporarily on October 28, 2016, when a judge dismissed the charges against him, but as he walked out of prison the Mexican Army detained him at the Centro Federal de Readaptacion Social (CEFERESO) number 9, in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua.

The US government issued their extradition request in May 2020. El Cholo Ivan was notified of this request two months later and was given 60 days to appeal. After his attorneys issued multiple motions, a federal court notified the US Embassy that they had approved his extradition on November 2020.

But El Cholo Ivan’s defense team continued, which was then further denied in 2021 as a tribunal court in the State of Mexico announced that they refused to revert the extradition request issued against El Cholo Ivan. Last week, a Federal Court granted authorization to the Mexican Government to hand over Ivan to the US.

While El Chapo has since long been extradited, convicted, and sentenced to life; Ivan remains in Mexico. This could be telling for similar extradition attempts being fought by figures such as Rafael Caro-Quintero and Ovidio Guzman Lopez that could remain in Mexico for years to come. We have already seen similar attempts by both filing Amparos for protection, and even Ovidio claiming that he is not the same person, El Chapo’s son, that is being sought after in the US.

Who is “El Cholo Ivan”?

Agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs of the United States (HSI, for its acronym in English) pointed to “El Cholo Iván” as one of the leading figures of the cartel, being the head of security for “El Chapo” Guzmán and in charge of Guamuchil, Sinaloa.

As Chapo’s head of security, he commanded over 200 sicario gunmen responsible for Chapo’s security and security for drug shipments and cartel operations.

He was born on May 17, 1981, in the small town of Los Caballeros, in the municipality of Badiraguato, Sinaloa. According to official information, he became involved at the age of 14 by collecting plaza payments, by orders of his dad, Honorio Gastelum Avila, alias “El Cobra”, who was a hitman working for “El Chapo”.

“El Cholo Ivan” o “El Vago” also became a hitman before becoming the plaza boss of Culiacan. He was in charge of a heist that stole more than $8 million worth of gold from a mine in Sinaloa. In 2015 it was known that Ivan Gastelum was in charge of the illegal extraction of hydrocarbons from pipelines in the state of Sinaloa.

In August of 2005, he was detained in Culiacan by federal police. In 2009 he escaped from the State Jail in Sinaloa when they were having a party, by walking out of the main entrance of the prison, dressed as a woman. He was accused of the murder of two Judicial Officers of Sinaloa, who were murdered on the 16th of September and October 1st of 2009, as an act of vengeance because those two officers were accused of the murder of his father “El Cobra”.

Local newspapers of Culiacan, state that while “El Cholo Ivan” was the plaza boss, he sustained several firefights against his enemy, Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, alias “El Chapo Isidro.”

In November 2012, the Army attempted to arrest him. During the chase and firefight, his girlfriend Maria Susana Flores Games, who was a beauty queen of the state of Sinaloa was killed.

Maria Susana Flores Games

A non-confirmed version states that she stepped out of their vehicle and yelled that she was unarmed, but, the Mexican Marines opened fire. Other versions state that she opened fire against the Marines.

According to Federal authorities, when El Chapo escape from the Altiplano Penal, “El Cholo Ivan”, was one of the main operators in charge of the construction of the tunnel. After the successful operation, he was promoted by “El Chapo” to the level of head of personal security. “El Cholo Ivan” has a corrido composed by Gerardo Ortiz called “Hoy mas Fuerte”.

Source Milenio, Zeta Tijuana