El Pozolero - The Macabre Cartel Stewmaker of Tijuana
Written by Narcomappingmx, August 31, 2020
Santiago Meza Lopez, “El Pozolero” is an imprisoned cartel operator who disposed of over 300 bodies for the Sinaloa and Arrellano Felix cartels in the late 2000s. Originally from rural Sinaloa, Meza Lopez first began work at age 19 with the Cartel Arrellano Felix (CAF) as a construction worker in Tijuana. Meza Lopez worked under “El Teo”, a bloodthirsty head of sicarios for the CAF, and later, the Sinaloa Cartel. Under “El Teo”, Meza Lopez was tasked with disposing of dozens of bodies resulting from turf wars in the Tijuana area. Meza Lopez claims he was paid just 600 USD a week.
Meza Lopez earned his nickname “El Pozolero”, which means “The stewmaker” from his methods of corpse disposal. Rather than throwing corpses in sewers or burying them in the countryside, Meza Lopez dissolved bodies in plastic barrels using caustic soda, a highly corrosive agent which he sourced at local supply stores. Once asked by a clerk why he consistently purchased so much, he replied that he used it to clean houses. Meza Lopez worked with two “apprentices” who helped him dissolve over 300 bodies until he was captured in 2009 at a Baja California hotel.
The resulting “pozole” was then stored in barrels, or dumped out in ranches outside Tijuana. After his capture, Meza Lopez assisted the government in locating several mass graves, many of which contained thousands of bone fragments and organic material. 10 years later, hundreds of family members search the sites he used hoping to find identifying pieces of their loved one. Due to the highly corrosive chemicals used, the thousands of bone fragments found at dumping sites are largely unidentifiable. Despite this, community search groups pore over the sites hoping to piece together remains to give the victims’ families closure.