Héctor Beltrán “El H” Leyva, one of four brothers to helm the Beltran Leyva cartel, died Sunday of an apparent heart attack at a Mexican maximum-security federal prison. Leyva, who had been behind bars since 2016 as he awaited trial on numerous trafficking charges connected to the deadly cartel, was 56.
In an effort perhaps to paint Leyva’s death as a natural occurrence and not a revenge killing, authorities said in a statement to Reuters that Leyva “received the medical attention he required and that the staff of the hospital as well as the federal center, exhausted all the clinical resources at its disposal.”
For years, Leyva’s Beltran Leyva cartel and Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel were engaged in a bloody turf war. Formerly allies, the Beltran Leyva cartel is credited with introducing Guzmán to the cocaine trade, the BBC reported, before the man known as El Chapo split with the Leyva brothers in 2008, sparking the battle of control of the Mexican drug routes.
One of Leyva’s brothers was killed in a shootout with Mexican police in 2009, while the other two are also incarcerated. Guzmán is currently standing trial in Brooklyn on charges ranging from money laundering and drug trafficking to conspiracy to commit murder.