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  • Joaquín “El ChapoGuzmán Loera, former leader of the Sinaloa cartel, considered by

  • the US government to be the most powerful drug dealer of all time now languishes in

  • a 7x12 (2.13 x 3.65 meter) concrete cell in ADX Florence, a Supermax prison in Colorado.

  • In 2019 he was found guilty of ten criminal counts including money laundering, drug trafficking

  • and kidnapping.

  • Ultimately, El Chapo was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

  • Unlike the other times he's been incarcerated, this time El Chapo doesn't have any pals

  • in the prison and his contact with the outside world is extremely limited.

  • There's no way he's remotely running the Sinaloa Cartel.

  • However, sadly the arrest and conviction of El Chapo has hardly put a dent in the cartel's

  • ability to make money.

  • More than one newspaper has pointed out that the lack of change to cartel business shows

  • how disposable any one person is in the narco-economy.

  • Actually, Sinaloa members do not consider themselves to be a cartel, but rather they

  • are a “federationof families, most of whom come from the Golden Triangle, a mountainous

  • region where the Mexican states of Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Durango meet.

  • This area is also notorious for growing and producing many illegal drugs.

  • There have always been multiple groups led by different bosses within the Cartel; El

  • Chapo's faction was just one of the strongest and the most savvy when it comes to public

  • perception.

  • After El Chapo was arrested in January of 2016, there were three different leadership

  • groups aligned with three factions within the cartel which vied for power.

  • The first faction 'Los Chapitos' was led by three of El Chapo's sons Ivan, Ovidio and

  • Alfredo Guzmán, along with their uncle Aureliano Guzmán Loera.

  • Then there was a faction led by Damaso Lopez Nuñez aka 'El Licenciado' a former state

  • police official turned right hand man of El Chapo.

  • El Licenciado's faction reportedly joined forces with a sometimes ally, the Jalisco

  • New Generation Cartel (CJNG).

  • A third faction was headed up by Ismael 'El Mayo' Zambada, the former partner of El

  • Chapo.

  • El Maya had support from Beltran Leyva Organization, a former ally of the Sinaloa cartel.

  • In some cases, El Mayo and the Guzmans worked together and shared power, so it's hard

  • to determine the initial level of rivalry between these two groups.

  • The internal struggle for the control of the Sinaloa Cartel set off a new wave of violence

  • across Mexico, especially in the Sinaloa state capital of Culiacan.

  • Homicide, kidnappings and extortion all increased.

  • In January 2017 El Chapo was extradited to the US.

  • Per government data, the first half of the year, Sinaloa state saw 879 homicides compared

  • to 524 over the same period in 2016.

  • This is likely an undercount, these are the murders the government was aware of.

  • In February 2017, Licenciado allegedly set up an ambush meant to kill El Mayo as well

  • as Alfredo and Ivan Guzman.

  • They escaped with minor injuries, however a few of their bodyguards were shot and killed.

  • Soon after the failed assassination attempt Licenciado, along with his son Damaso Lopez

  • Serrano aka 'El Mini Lic', launched a cyber warfare attack on the Guzmans using

  • bots and hackers.

  • But the scheme backfired when one of the hackers used a rigged smartphone to secretly capture

  • video of Licenciado and pass it to authorities.

  • As a result, the Mexican government was able to track down and arrest Licenciado in May

  • 2017.

  • El Mini Lic was in a much weaker position without his father around.

  • In July 2017 he walked across the border and surrendered to US authorities.

  • Allegedly, he was being hunted by El Mayo.

  • EL Mini Lic quickly negotiated to provide information in exchange for becoming a protected

  • witness.

  • Licenciado also ended up in the hands of the US government, he was extradited in early

  • 2018.

  • This left only two factions vying for control of the Sinaloa Cartel.

  • A truce and power sharing partnership was quickly formed between El Mayo and the Guzmans.

  • In February 2019 a Sinaloan journalist claimed that Los Chapitos under the leadership of

  • the Guzmans controlled street-level drug dealing, weapons, and the defense operations, while

  • level headed El Mayo, negotiated and took care of big deals.

  • Small skirmishes continued between the two factions, as well as with the authorities.

  • Then on October 17, 2019 members of the Mexican National Guard captured Ovidio Guzman at home

  • in Culiacán.

  • More than 700 cartel gunmen rampaged across the city attacking and even killing several

  • civilian, government and military targets.

  • The cartel was better equipped than authorities, having armored vehicles, rocket launchers,

  • and heavy machine guns among other gear.

  • The cartel took several hostages, including eight servicemen.

  • Within about 4 hours of the battle starting, the government let Ovidio go.

  • Five people died during the Battle of Culiacán and the government sent special forces in

  • as reinforcement to patrol the city.

  • Ovidio's kidnapping and the violence surrounding his release added to unease in the Sinaloa

  • region.

  • The tension between El Mayo's faction versus Los Chapitos ramped up.

  • An intense multi month struggle began for the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel.

  • On November 26, 2019, El Mayo supporters beat 11 Culiacán municipal police officers who

  • had ties to the Guzmans.

  • On December 3 after a leak of some WhatsApp conversations, hitmen with ties to Los Chapitos

  • invaded an area of Culiacán controlled by one of El Mayo's lieutenants.

  • On February 2, Los Chapitos fired large-caliber weapons in a couple of Culiacán neighborhoods

  • which were El Mayo territory.

  • On Feb 26th, a close collaborator of El Mayo's leadership team was assassinated.

  • As a terror tactic, the murder was recorded and uploaded to social media.

  • On March 6 an assassination of a prominent El Mayo supporter failed.

  • After this attack, Los Chapitos and El Mayo's faction negotiated a truce, with the Guzmans

  • ceding some neighborhoods of Culiacán to the El Mayo faction.

  • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the US heavily restricted or closed borders and nonessential

  • businesses as well as implementing shelter in place orders in many states.

  • Much of the infighting stopped as the Sinaloa Cartel had to focus on keeping its lucrative

  • drug business flowing.

  • While the Sinaloa Cartel has diversified into other rackets such as kidnapping, money laundering

  • and stealing petrol from nationalised pipelines, drugs are still central to its operation.

  • Drug trafficking as well as money laundering briefly dipped and then rebounded as the Cartel

  • found its way around Covid-19 restraints.

  • Both the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) actually used the

  • pandemic to withhold regular drug shipments to manipulate the methamphetamine trade and

  • increase its cost in the US consumer market.

  • By late spring of 2020, a few Mexican newspapers claimed that El Mayo had ceded the fight for

  • leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel.

  • He's in his 70s and allegedly is quite sick with diabetes.

  • El Chapo's sons Ivan, Ovidio and Alfredo are now in charge.

  • But the truth is, that at this point the Sinaloa cartel is immense.

  • It operates in 54 countries, connecting manufacturers and distributors, bankers and businesses and

  • extracting money at each stepthere is no longer a single face of the organization.

  • The Guzman brothers and the Sinaloa Cartel now face a specific challenge, the rise of

  • their sometimes ally, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

  • Composed of factions that have splintered off from various cartels and local militia

  • groups, the CJNG has rapidly increased in size since its formation in 2010.

  • CJNG leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, aka "El Mencho," is known for being shrewd and

  • brutal.

  • He'is one of the most wanted men by both Mexico and the US.

  • In fact the US has offered a $10 million reward for his capture.

  • Most recently the CJNG has sparked bloody turf battles to contest Sinaloa's control

  • in various Mexican cities, especially valuable smuggling border towns such as Tijuana and

  • Ciudad Juarez.

  • It will be interesting to see if the Sinaloa Cartel can maintain its position at the top

  • when the CJNG and other cartels are gunning for its business.

Joaquín “El ChapoGuzmán Loera, former leader of the Sinaloa cartel, considered by

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Life After El Chapo: Who Took Over

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    Summer posted on 2021/05/16
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