‘The drugs keep flowing’: El Chapo is convicted but his Sinaloa Cartel is going nowhere

MEXICO CITY — Despite the arrest, extradition and now conviction of narco-lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, his Sinaloa Cartel marches on — and the proof is in huge, multi-drug shipments detected on the border in recent weeks.

Those heaping bags of fentanyl and plastic tubs of crystal meth, heroin and cocaine offer no sign that the cartel has been weakened, lost sway over its traditional territory in northwestern Mexico or seen its international reach curtailed by the loss of its notorious leader.

“It’s still a major, major force in the Mexican criminal underworld,” Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said.

The cartel still controls a worldwide web of contacts that can move Colombian cocaine to Cameroon and Mexican meth cooks to Malaysia. It also controls seaports to get drugs and precursor chemicals shipped in from around the globe; employs labs and chemists to process them; bribes corrupt cops to ensure the drugs can be moved to the border; has engineered multimillion-dollar tunnels to smuggle tons of marijuana and cocaine under the frontier; and pays “mules” to ferry shipments in cars and trucks.

That doesn’t even count the armies of hitmen and enforcers who moonlight in extortion and kidnapping, plus the money launderers, front corporations and political contacts. There’s also a world of professionals such as architects, jewelers and even musical groups, who provide entertainment and launder money.

People paint outlines of bodies as part of a memorial for those killed, on the 10th anniversary of the drug war’s start, at the Monument for the the Mexican Revolution, in Mexico City, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016.

Perhaps most important, Sinaloa continues to control what’s referred to as the “last mile” in the United States, using its wholesale distribution network to get drugs into the hands of local gangs and street dealers.

“All 23 of our divisions have an investigation at least at the local level that ties back to the Sinaloa Cartel,” said Will Glaspy, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent in charge of the Houston division who has held posts along the U.S.-Mexico border from California to Texas. “Their distribution network is that well established in the United States.”

So at the cartel’s stronghold in the mountains of Sinaloa state, it’s business as usual for Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, who has helped run the cartel since it was founded over three decades ago. He has a reputation as a level-headed, old-style capo known more for negotiating than for bloodshed.

“El Mayo is still considered the main player at the table,” Glaspy said.

A succession fight that broke out after Guzman’s third detention, in 2016, was ultimately resolved by the arrest of Damaso Lopez Nunez and his son Damaso Lopez Serrano, who led a rival faction. Today the cartel is seen as firmly under the command of Zambada in partnership with Guzman’s sons Ivan, Archivaldo and Alfredo, known collectively as “los Chapitos,” or “the little Chapos.”

A son of Joaquin Guzman Loera, aka “El Chapo Guzman,” Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar (2-R) is presented to the press along with alleged drug …read more

Source:: Nationalpost – News


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