The Cartel of Sinaloa, currently with a clear path to subdue or annihilate the others. El Chapo and Caro Quintero are free to undergo the mission to end the war or cartels and to establish a “pax mafiosa”.

Zósimo Camacho, @zosimo_contra

The Mexican government could be looking for a hegemonic power among the organized crime to return, according to the document of the US Congress, dated at the end of past July. The objective: to establish a pax mafiosa led by the Cartel of Sinaloa, that would reduce the levels of violence and replace the current “multipolar situation” where crime and terror reigns. Under this logic lies the recent evasion of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, el Chapo.

The document states that the likely bet of the government of Enrique Peña Nieto could mean a loss of legitimacy of the state. But it could also result in a reduction of the violence and a way to withdraw the issue of drug trafficking of the issues about national security to bring it over to the public order.

The business of transportation of drugs in Mexico is not going to end, but the viability of the country needs to be transformed: it needs to be less violent, controlled and with a “control unit”, states in an interview with Contralínea the expert on national security, drug trafficking and Armed Forces, Guillermo Garduño Valero. This is the analysis that prevailed, he considers, in the spheres of national security of the government of Peña Nieto.

According to the Doctor in Sociology by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and expert on Latin America by the University of Pittsburgh, what is going on is the expansion of the Cartel of Sinaloa to all the Pacific area, the “recovery “of the border with the United States, its arrival to the Golf, and the control over the business in Central America. In this operation the other cartels will be either subdued or annihilated, he considers. The evasion is a consensual matter along the “highest levels”, he ascertains.

Thus Joaquín Guzmán would be turning into the capo di tutti capi, or boss of bosses, of all mafia in the western hemisphere.

Today the shipment of drugs in Mexico is dominated by nine major cartels: three of the “national” character (Sinaloa, Los Zetas and Jalisco Nueva Generación), four are “regional” (El Golfo, Los Caballeros Templarios and Pacífico Sur) and two “toll collectors” (Juárez and Tijuana). The aforesaid 202 more criminal cells could be added all across the national territory, mainly in the federal entities of Tamaulipas (42), Guerrero (25) and the Federal District (24).

The information contained in the study Mexico: organized crime and drug trafficking organizations, published by the Congressional Research Service (of the US Congress). The document drafted by the analyst on Latin American issues, June S. Beittel, dated on the past 22nd July and gives account on the map of the mafia in Mexico, after the evasion of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, el Chapo, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.

The might of the Sinaloa Cartel is highlighted in this study. Despite the level of violence that other cartels have shown, the one led by el Chapo is “the most powerful mafia organization of the western hemisphere”. Also it is the only one, that for the shipment of drugs from South America and of the produce of Mexico, “has been using tunnels, catapults, submarines, speedboat and semi-submergible vessels”, as well as vehicles for air transportation and containers.

The organizational capacity is also highlighted in this document: it is a cartel with a decentralized model that nevertheless subdues all of its cells. Guillermo Garduño, Professor at the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM), Campus Iztapalapa, assures that this criminal organization is dedicated mainly in its core business: “it does not have parallel businesses such as abduction, extortion or theft of fuel”; this is the “preferred” model of a criminal organization.

The document also mentions that the recent evasion of Guzmán Loera will have “serious consequences” for Mexico, the United States and Central America. 

Farewell to the marihuana transit country

The past Sunday at dawn of the 12th July the highest security authorities of Mexico should have informed that Guzmán Loera had escaped via a tunnel of 1.5 kilometers, built from a ground nearby to the Maximum Security Prison and right up the shower of the cell of Guzmán: just in the blind spot of the security cameras of the Federal Social Rehabilitation Center 1, El Altiplano, of the highest security locations in the country and considering that until then the one of the major jail rigor, with physical and technological infrastructure to avoid any attempt of evasion or deter any attack.  

“The evasion was done with the endorsement of the Mexican authorities at all levels. It is impossible to scratch and dig a tunnel of this kind without the approval of the authorities. It is stupid to consider the evasion as an issue of guards. What happened is a huge complicity of the authorities at all levels of the country”, he says categorically, Guillermo Garduño, who is also a panelist in the College of National Defense of the Secretariat of National Defense and the Center of Superior Naval Studies of the Secretariat of the Navy. 

The expert adds that a personality like the Chapo is, in this moment, more useful outside than inside. Today, when a drug kingpin is captured or killed, the succession is not carried out in stages like since a decade. What actually happened being the fragmentation of the splinter groups and the multiplication of violence. “Therefore what now is needed is the unity of the command. The very own DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency] and the United States had to do with this consideration concerning the evasion.

On their part, the document of the US Congress states that the escape occurred on the past 11th of July represents “a huge step back” for the government of Peña Nieto, already “sieged by accusations of corruption and low approval rates”.

Everything that could have been achieved under the administration of Peña Nieto in matter of the fight against drug trafficking has been overrun. The coup to the cartels that the administration of Felipe Calderón never carried out and of which the current government boasted have been overshadowed. The document cites its own capture of Guzmán Loera in February 2014; the detention of the highest leaders of the Zetas in 2013 and on March 2015, and the arrest of Hector Beltrán Leyva and Vicente Carrillo Fuentes. Also could be mentioned the capture of Servando Gómez, la Tuta, and the killing on March 2014 of Nazario Moreno el Más Loco, both members of the Caballeros Templarios. The latter was given “death” in 2010 by the government of Felipe Calderón and by the then head of the Public Security, Genaro García Luna.

The document as such mentions that out of a total of 122 leaders of drug trafficking, the government of Peña Nieto would have arrested or neutralized 93. However the evasion of Guzmán “contradicts” the assertion that the criminality is fought face-to-face, settles the study of the US Congress.

For Guillermo Garduño the discredit has a cost that the federal government had to accept: “the Mexican State cannot reverse the situation. It does not support more pressure. The military units are overwhelmed. There are suicides among troops and officials, meanwhile the narcos in the midst of a battle are under fits of laughter, the moral strength that any given military organization needs are as low as ever. The country is de-capitalized, as there is no capital that resists this insecurity. There are no warranties to whom wants invests. This situation has to stop. “

-If this is so, why is Chapo the chosen one and not another personality?-he is questioned.

El Chapo is the only one able to bring the interests of all the mafia together or to subdue them to a single command. There is no other actor likewise of those out there.

However we are not only dealing with the existence of a “command” of the mafia. According to Garduño Valero, we are dealing with a transformation of the business, that every time gets more violent, has more actors and generates less benefits, such as it is structured. To reorganize it could be useful another drug kingpin, born like El Chapo in the municipality of Badiraguato in Sinaloa and set free in 2013.

“In this same sense is set the freedom of [Rafael] Caro Quintero. The marihuana is no longer good business: it has been legalized in several states of the United States and it has been replaced by other drugs. It generates less and less dividends”.

Garduño explains that with lesser margins and more actors, most of the cartels have diversified their business: abduction, extortion, theft. Only the Sinaloa Cartel remains as its core business the shipment of drugs. The business model of drug trafficking in Mexico passed over from being “marihuana-based” to one based on the production of opium, heroin, morphine and that processes coca leaf. Despite having major fire capacity, the cartels remain organizationally like in the 1980’s.

“The one who can put an end to this drug trafficking model and make a way for a modern one is Caro Quintero”, he explains.

Rafael Caro Quintero was liberated by a collegiate court decision on the 9th of August 2013, 8 months after Enrique Peña Nieto having assumed the presidency of the Mexico. On the 16th of January of the current year a new apprehension warrant against him was issued, and likewise in the case of Chapo the Mexican and US authorities formally are intensely looking for him.

Caro Quintero, Narco of Narcos (Narco de Narcos), founded at the end of the 1970’s the Sinaloa Cartel (also known as the Guadalajara Cartel, for having moved to Jalisco’s capital city its main administrative operations). The other founding associates were Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, the first Chief of Chiefs (Jefe de jefes) or the Godfather (Padrino), and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, Don Neto, remain in prison.

After the evasion of Joaquín Guzmán in Mexico the Secretary of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, the director of the Center of Investigation and National Security, Eugenio Ímaz Gíspert, remain in their positions. The national Commissioner of Security, Monte Alejandro Rubido, was replaced the past Wednesday 27th of August by Renato Sales Heredia. Only the director of the maximum security prison and three guardians are being held in confinement.

In his first declarations Sales Heredia referred to the Chapo. The one who was in charge of the investigation of the death of the Human Rights activist Digna Ochoa in 2001 and that concluded that the activist would have committed suicide, promised to capture the drug lord.

In truth Joaquín Guzmán Loera has been granted more warranties: the Mexican authorities have issued an amparo lawsuit, so that in the event of being again caught, he may not be extradited to the United States. The past 31st of July the Fifth District Court granted Guzmán Loera an amparo lawsuit promoted by his attorneys against any attempt to, once again, be captured and sent to the northern neighbor.

Additionally the information to which the Congressional Research Services of the US “suggest” that the Chapo “will not be apprehended in a couple of weeks”, as when he escaped the first time and remained 13 years as a runaway.

The national organizations

The classification of the cartels presented by the study released by the US Congress is of the authorship of the Mexican researcher Eduardo Guerrero Gutiérrez. The information provided to the Congressional Research Service by the Political scientist, former advisor of the Office of the Presidency of Mexico, among other responsibilities, former analyst of the Center of Investigation and National Security, identifies nine organizations: three national one, four regional ones, and two toll collectors.

Additionally to the nine criminal organizations that shipment of drugs in Mexico, there are 202 mafia cells operating. According to the investigation of the US Congressional Research Service, these small organizations splintered from major organizations. They operate in contiguous places in some states. Its main activity is the distribution of drugs in a small scale, but also they could be involved in the extortion, abduction and car theft.

According to the data provided by Guerrero Guitérrez-today heading the Lantia Consultancy- to the US Congressional Research Service, in Mexico there are three major national organizations: the Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas, and the Cartel of Jalisco Nueva Generación.

These organizations are present or control several routes of the drug, including the entry and exit points on the northern and southern border. They also operate in the main international routes. They have diversified its business towards other highly lucrative criminal activities, but with lesser violence involved.

According to the study of the analyst of Latin American Issues June S. Beittel, the Sinaloa Cartel controls currently between 40 and 60 per cent of the total amount shipped in Mexico. The benefits of these organizations exceed 3 billion dollars annually. It has presence in 50 countries over four continents: America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

In Mexico it controls almost all criminal activity in five states of the republic: Baja California, Sonora, Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua. They traffic mainly cocaine, but also heroine, methamphetamines, synthetic drugs, and among others, marihuana. There is no region in the United States where the products of the Sinaloa Cartel don’t arrive.

This organization, the most powerful, preserves in its core that descended from Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo. The document highlights his “reputation” because of its organizational skills. Unlike other cartels it is integrated by a network of smaller organizations that have achieved to direct and control it with success.

The Zetas, furthermore, originally integrated by former members of the Special Forces of the Mexican Army, they have as their main activity “the organized violence”. According to the document, the main asset of this organization of national influence is not drug trafficking, but rather the sum of other businesses: fuel theft, extortion, human trafficking and abduction. These are the offenses that impact most the Mexican society.

This organization present ion most of the states washed by the Gulf of Mexico, but also have they reached Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and some sates of the Pacific area. Also are they present in the central area and in South America. Far from trying to obtain their support of the population, the intimidation, and throughout torture and killing, is the main strategy exerted to maintain the control over these territories.

After reaching a peak during the administration of Felipe Calderón, it is the mostly hit by the Revolutionary Institutional Party, since its return to the Presidency of Mexico in 2012. Over 30 leaders of the Zetas were captured or killed until April 2015.

On the other hand, the Cartel of Jalisco Nueva Generación is a splinter group of the Sinaloa Cartel created occurred after the death of Ignacio Coronel, Nacho, killed by elements of the Mexican Army in July 2010. The fraction, now independent of Sinaloa, despite not being in confrontation with that cartel, it presented itself as the Matazetas (Zetas Killers) in 2011. In accordance with the investigation of the US Congress, the ultimate break with the Sinaloa Cartel happened in summer 2013. They have presence in nine states of Mexico.

To this organizations is attributed the first military helicopter shot down by criminal forces. In truth the past 1st of May they did not only shoot down a helicopter, but also confronted face-to-face the Mexican Armed Forces.

Guillermo Garduño observes that that day the country was split in two. The criminal organizations took control of the highway network of Michoacán, Guanajuato, Jalisco and Colima, blocked the entrance to the North-East of Mexico. “This strengthening of the Nueva Generación happened after the capture of El Chapo”. The investigation considers that the shown capacity by the criminal organizations that directly confront the Armed Forces probably was the spark that pushed for the change in the strategy of the government of Peña Nieto.

The regional organizations

These cartels maintain a limited control over the segments of the traffic routes that cross their territory. According to the information of Guerrero Gutiérrez contained in the study Mexico: organized crime and drug trafficking organizations,   these cartels receive much less benefits than those of national reach. Therefore they have diversified their criminal activities with a high social impact: extortion, abduction, petrol theft, smuggling of goods and people and car theft. They are the Gulf Cartel, la Familia Michoacana, Los Caballeros Templarios and the Cartel of  the Southern Pacific (also known as Los Beltrán Leyva).

  The Gulf Cartel was the closest contender that has had the Sinaloa Cartel. In 2000, the Gulf Cartel found itself in the peak of its power. Today it is divided in several splinter groups that fight for the control of the organization. Its quick decay started in 2010, when its armed branch,the Zetas cut all ties with the cartel and both organizations entered into a bloody and “hyper-violent” fight for the business. According to the document, this is the “most violent [conflict] in the history of the organized crime in Mexico”.

The Gulf Cartel has derived into gangs dedicated to extortion that often don’t have communication among them. They aspire to the extermination of Los Zetas to retake the control of the business and of the strategy in the city of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. Today they defend their stronghold in Matamoros, Tamaulipas.

The Familia Michoacana officially has been dissolved. However it continues to function throughout dispersed cells. Despite that they are dedicated mainly to the production of methamphetamines and the shipping of marihuana, cocaine and heroin, more and more they depend on abduction and extortion. They operate in the areas of the State of Mexico and Guerrero.

The Caballeros Templarios, originally a splinter group of the Familia Michocana, are specialized in the production of methamphetamines, but also is involved in the shipping of cocaine and marihuana to the United States. As the majority of the organizations in decay, its business has derived into extortion and other offenses, among which is illegal mining: until June 2014, the Mexican authorities had seized 70 million dollars in iron ore stemming from mines illegally operating in this organization. The apprehension of its last leader, Servando Gómez, la Tuta, made the activities of the cartel fall abruptly.

The Cartel of the Southern Pacific is originally a splinter group of the Sinaloa Cartel. After the break, the organization also known as Los Beltrán Leyva, have been falling apart as a result of the coups given by the Mexican authorities. But this fragmentation does not end with the violence; quite the contrary, they are strengthened. Some groups of this organization keep up a struggle for the hegemony in the remaining structure. Some of these groups are the Guerreros Unidos and Los Rojos. They continue to traffic cocaine and have presence in nine entities of Mexico, but depend more and more on the abduction and extortion.

The toll collectors

There are two organizations that in other years appeared among the most powerful of Mexico and the continent. Today their main income comes from tolls that they collect to other organizations that perform the shipping of drugs in the municipalities they control. It is the Cartel of Juárez (also known as the Carrillo Fuentes Organization) and the Cartel of Tijuana (also known as the Arellano Félix Organization).

The Cartel of Juárez is another of the splinter groups of the Sinaloa Cartel in 2008. The dispute that followed made of the border town of Ciudad Juárez one of the most violent places in Mexico. The coups received have made it lose control over its armed branch, La Línea, but haven’t started a conflict with them and consider themselves allies. They maintain agreements also with the Zetas and the gang Barrio Azteca, to try to expel the Sinaloa Cartel and regain the city.

Separately the Cartel of Tijuana maintains that border town of Baja California by an agreement with the Sinaloa Cartel that pays its fee to use the plaza. The organization of Los Arellano Félix, today led by Fernando Sánchez Arellano is not part of the Sinaloa Cartel, but is totally under its control.

The destruction of the organization of Los Arellano Félix dates back to 2001, precisely in the context of the struggle against the Sinaloa Cartel.

“Since the administration of Vicente Fox it has been aimed to underscore the organization of Joaquín Guzmán –states the specialist Guillermo Garduño-. The first evasion [occurred on the 18th of January 2001] had the aim to destroy the Arellano Félix. And it was accomplished. Now it will be necessary to subject the Cartel of Juárez, the Zetas, the Gulf Cartel and the Cartelof Jalisco Nueva Generación, and to stop all wars between cartels”.

Joaquín Guzmán Loera had been detained for the first time on the 9th of June 1993. He was apprehended in Guatemala in an operative led by the then Director of Military Intelligence of that country, Otto Pérez Molina.

Accused of corruption Pérez Molina was forced to resign to the Presidency of Guatemala on the 3rd of September 2015. Meanwhile, the Sinaloa Cartel is expanding in Central America.


Zósimo Camacho, @zosimo_contra

(Translated by: Axel Plasa)




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La “mano útil” del cártel de Sinaloa

Con Calderón, sólo 114 consignados del cártel de Sinaloa

Caballeros Templarios, entrenados por Estados Unidos, Egipto e Israel




 Contralínea 453 / del 07 al 13 de Septiembre 2015