Ph.D. Student killed by cartel while researching plants in Mexico

A tragic incident unfolded in Mexico as a U.S. Ph.D. student, Gabriel Trujillo, was shot seven times and left to die in a black SUV during a research trip. A 31-year-old botanist and Ph.D. student from the University of California, Berkeley, he crossed the border in a black SUV with American plates. He had ventured into the former territory of notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, where violence has escalated due to the ongoing conflict between three rival cartels.

According to private investigator Jay Armes III, who specializes in crime in Mexico, the situation in Sonora is extremely volatile, with multiple cartels vying for control. The Sinaloa Cartel, which El Chapo once led, and the Caborca Cartel, which he allowed to operate simultaneously, are among the warring factions. Additionally, the Nueva Generacion Cartel from Jalisco is attempting to expand its influence in the region. Trujillo’s untimely demise can be attributed to the dangerous environment he unwittingly entered.

Armes III believes that Trujillo was likely being monitored by cartel spotters, known as “falcons” or “halcones,” from the moment he crossed the Arizona border. These individuals, who are on the cartels’ payroll, use encrypted walkie-talkies to report any suspicious activity. When someone is deemed a threat, hitmen are dispatched to eliminate them. Unfortunately, Trujillo’s presence in the area may have been misconstrued, leading to his tragic fate.

The circumstances surrounding Trujillo’s death raise questions. The fact that his body was left in his SUV, rather than being disposed of, suggests that the assailants may have mistaken him for an undercover DEA agent. However, the exact motives and identities of those responsible remain unknown. The Sonora state prosecutor’s office is currently investigating the case, but no official updates have been provided thus far.

Trujillo’s family, friends, and colleagues are left grappling with the loss of a passionate and dedicated individual. His love for nature and culture, as well as his commitment to environmental conservation, were evident in his work and personal life. Trujillo’s fiancée, Roxanne Cruz-de Hoyos, had been undergoing fertility treatments, and the couple had planned to announce their engagement and start a family upon his return from Mexico.