- Although his organization was rocked by disputes after his extradition, things have since calmed down.
- El Mayo and El Chapo’s sons control the Sinaloa Cartel.
- The CJNG is fighting the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico.
Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán is now a silent observer of the security crisis that he helped create in Mexico and his only connection to the outside world is a television at a maximum-security prison in Florence, Colorado. The former Sinaloa cartel boss now spends his time watching television and reviewing documents related to his complicated appeal process.
Although his organization was rocked by disputes after his extradition, things have since calmed down. Four of his sons and his partner Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada currently run the drug trafficking empire that he once oversaw.
There were a few sporadic power struggles following his incarceration but the cartel has largely retained its zones of influence in both the United States and Mexico. This is despite the rise of group’s most formidable enemy, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
Most of these conflicts were, however, extinguished after the arrest and extradition of Guzmán’s right-hand man, Dámaso López Núñez, also known as Licenciado. This left Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada as the primary leader of the syndicate. The Sinaloa Cartel maintains its power through international dominance and permeating the highest echelons of the Mexican government through corruption.
The Sinaloa Cartel presently has a more horizontal leadership structure. The leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel autonomously control specific zones of influence. They form a decentralized network of federation bosses that conduct business and violent acts through pacts between them and local gangs.
In addition to the Zambada and Guzmán crime families, the DEA believes that Rafael Caro Quintero another drug lord also controls a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel. A fugitive since 2013, he has repeatedly denied involvement in drug trafficking.
The Sinaloa Cartel Ties and Clashes
The Sinaloa Cartel has maintained alliances with several independent distributors in American cities. It has distribution agreements with street gangs such as the Mexican Mafia, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Barrio 18, Florence 13, the Crips, and Bloods. According to the DEA, the syndicate maintains the most expansive international footprint compared to other Mexican drug trafficking organizations.
The Jalisco New Generation Cartel is, however, reported to be encroaching on some of its territories. In Mexico, the two organizations have been involved in violent clashes in the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Nayarit, Mexico City, and some sections of the Chihuahua border.
The Mexican army has been at the forefront of the fight against Mexican criminal gangs, but Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has strived to reduce its involvement. Last year, he declared his intentions to disband the army stating, “if were up to me, I would get rid of the army and turn it into the National Guard, declare that Mexico is a pacifist country that does not need a military and that the defense of the nation, if necessary, would be done by all.”