‘El Chapo’ enforcer disappears in California two months after release

A feared enforcer for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s cartel who previously had plastic surgery to evade capture has gone missing in California — just two months after he was released on probation, according to a report.

Jose Rodrigo Arechiga Gamboa — known as “El Chino Antrax,” or “the Chinese Anthrax” — was supposed to be under federal supervision for the next five years after his release March 3, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

But he was missing when a probation officer went to his new home for a scheduled check-in on Wednesday — as were all his belongings, except for a cellphone, the paper said, citing court documents.

Gamboa — whom prosecutors previously hailed as “one of the highest-ranking Sinaloa Cartel kingpins ever prosecuted in the United States” — has a record of taking extreme steps to evade capture.

When he was busted in Amsterdam in 2013, he was using a fake passport — and had “significant plastic surgery” as well as attempts to “alter his fingerprints,” prosecutors said at the time.

A bench warrant was issued this week for his arrest, the Union-Tribune said. The federal court filing did not say where he had been living when he “apparently absconded,” the paper said.

Probation authorities are recommending nine more months behind bars if he is caught, the paper said. The affidavit says he previously mentioned plans to flee to his family in Mexico.

Federal prosecutors previously called Gamboa “the leader of a violent enforcement arm of the Sinaloa Cartel called ‘Los Antrax,’” explaining part of his nickname.

According to his plea agreement, he admitted being “a direct participant in, and communicated to other members of the Sinaloa Cartel, orders to commit acts of violence or threats of violence.”

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman
Joaquin “El Chapo” GuzmanREUTERS

His arrest marked “the end of a reign of terror that this particular violent enforcement arm of the Sinaloa Cartel has inflicted on innocent people both in Mexico and the United States,” DEA agent William Sherman said at the time.

“El Chino” rose to power in part thanks to his childhood friendship with the sons of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, Guzman’s alleged partner in running one of the world’s most feared criminal enterprises.

After his 2013 arrest in Holland, he was extradited to the US and pleaded guilty to drug-trafficking charges in May 2015, also agreeing to forfeit $1 million in his illicit proceeds.

He was finally sentenced to seven years and three months in prison in December 2019 — at which point most of his time had been served.

His sentencing in San Diego federal court was under heavy security — partly to protect him from any outside attempts at violence, the Union-Tribune noted.

Guzman, the Sinaloa cartel’s longtime leader, is serving life plus 30 years in a supermax prison in Colorado.

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