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Sinaloa Cartel

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Sinaloa Cartel

Sinaloa Cartel
Founded mid-1980s
Founding location Culiacán, Sinaloa[1]
Years active mid-1980s-present
Territory

Mexico:
Sinaloa, Sonora, Nayarit, Chihuahua, Durango, Jalisco, Colima, Chiapas, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Zacatecas, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Morelos, Toluca

Latin America:
Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina

United States:
Arizona, California, Oregon, Ohio, Washington, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Illinois, Florida, New York

International:
Australia, New Zealand,[2] Europe, Asia: Philippines,[3] West Africa,[4]
Leader(s) Joaquín Guzmán Loera
Criminal activities Drug trafficking, money laundering, murder, kidnapping, bribery[5]
Allies Gente Nueva
Los Antrax
Sicilian Mafia
Gulf Cartel [6]
Rivals Los Zetas
Juárez Cartel
Tijuana Cartel
Beltran-Leyva Cartel

The Sinaloa Cartel ([11][13][14][15] The 'Federation' was partially splintered when the Beltrán-Leyva brothers broke apart from the Sinaloa Cartel.[16]

The [18] The Sinaloa Cartel is associated with the label "Golden Triangle", which refers to the states of Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua. The region is a major producer of Mexican opium and marijuana.[16] According to the U.S. Attorney General, the Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for importing into the United States and distributing nearly 200 tons of cocaine and large amounts of heroin between 1990 and 2008.[19] According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, within the U.S. the Sinaloa Cartel is primarily involved in the distribution of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and MDMA.[20]

Background

City of Culiacán, Sinaloa, home base of the Cartel

Pedro Avilés Pérez was a pioneer drug lord in the Mexican state of Sinaloa in the late 1960s. He is considered to be the first generation of major Mexican drug smugglers of marijuana who marked the birth of large-scale Mexican drug trafficking.[21] He also pioneered the use of aircraft to smuggle drugs to the United States.[22]

Second generation Sinaloan traffickers such as Tijuana Cartel, while the Sinaloa Cartel continued to be run by former lieutenants Héctor Luis Palma Salazar, Adrián Gómez González and Joaquín Guzmán Loera (El Chapo).

Leadership

Sinaloa Cartel hierarchy in early 2008

The Sinaloa Cartel used to be known as La Alianza de Sangre ("Blood Alliance").[24] When Héctor Luis Palma Salazar (a.k.a. El Güero) was arrested on 23 June 1995, by elements of the Mexican Army, his partner [12][25] Guzmán was captured in Guatemala on 9 June 1993, and extradited to Mexico, where he was jailed in a maximum security prison, but on 19 January 2001, Guzmán escaped and resumed his command of the Sinaloa Cartel. Guzmán has two close associates, Ismael Zambada García and Ignacio Coronel Villareal.[26][27] Guzman and Zambada became Mexico's top drug kingpins in 2003, after the arrest of their rival Osiel Cardenas of the Gulf Cartel. Another close associate, Javier Torres Félix, was arrested and extradited to the U.S. in December 2006.[28] Guzman was captured on 22 February 2014 overnight by American and Mexican authorities. On July 11, 2015, he escaped from the Federal Social Readaption Center No. 1, a maximum-security prison in the State of Mexico, through a tunnel in his prison cell. Guzman has since resumed his command of the Sinaloa Cartel.

On 29 July 2010 Ignacio Coronel was killed in a shootout with the Mexican military in Zapopan, Jalisco.[29]

Operations

Sinaloa Cartel Plaza Bosses as of May 2013

The Sinaloa Cartel has a presence in 17 Mexican states, with important centers in Guatemala on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel. From there it is smuggled north to Mexico and later into the U.S.[33] Other shipments of cocaine are believed to originate in Colombia from Cali and Medellín drug-trafficking groups from which the Sinaloa Cartel handle transportation across the U.S. border to distribution cells in Arizona, California, Texas, Chicago and New York.[11][31][34]

Prior to his arrest, Vicente Zambada Niebla ("El Vicentillo"), son of Ismael Zambada García ("El Mayo"), played a key role in the Sinaloa Cartel. Vicente Zambada was responsible for coordinating multi-ton cocaine shipments from Central and South American countries, through Mexico, and into the United States for the Sinaloa Cartel. To accomplish this task he used every means available: Boeing 747 cargo aircraft, narco submarines, container ships, go-fast boats, fishing vessels, buses, rail cars, tractor trailers and automobiles. He was arrested by the Mexican Army on 18 March 2009 and extradited on 18 February 2010 to Chicago to face federal charges.[16]

In the late 1980s, the United States [35] By the mid-1990s, according to one court opinion, it was believed to be the size of the Medellín Cartel during its prime.[35] The Sinaloa Cartel was believed to be linked to the Juárez Cartel in a strategic alliance following the partnership of their rivals, the Gulf Cartel and Tijuana Cartel.[32][35][36] Following the discovery of a tunnel system used to smuggle drugs across the Mexican/US border, the group has been associated with such means of trafficking.[34][37]

By 2005, the money at global scale, mainly through British bank HSBC.[39]

In January 2008 the cartel allegedly split into a number of warring factions, which is a major cause of the epidemic of drug violence Mexico has seen in the last year.[40] Murders by the cartel often involve beheadings or bodies dissolved in vats of alkali and are sometimes filmed and posted on the Internet as a warning to rival gangs.[41]

As of 2013, the Sinaloa Cartel continues to dominate the Sonora-Arizona corridor, which extends for nearly 375 miles. It relies on eight "plaza" bosses, leaders of a specific geographic region along the corridor, to coordinate, direct, and support the flow of narcotics north into the United States. Key cities along the corridor include the Mexicali plaza, San Luis Rio Colorado plaza, Sonoyta plaza, Nogales plaza, and the Agua Prieta plaza.

The Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan areas are major trans-shipment and distribution points for the cartel in the US.[42] To coordinate operations in the southeast US, Atlanta has emerged as a major distribution center and accounting hub and the presence of the Sinaloa Cartel there has brought ruthless violence to that area.[43] Chicago continues to be a major Sinaloa distribution point for the Midwest, taking advantage of a strong local demand market and convergence of several major interstate systems that offer distribution throughout the US. The cartel also benefited for a long time of easiness in cash transactions and money laundering through banks with presence both in the US and Mexico like HSBC.[44][45][46] In 2013, the Chicago Crime Commission named Joaquin "Chapo" Guzmán "Public Enemy No. 1" of a city Guzmán has never set foot in. He is the only individual to receive the title since Al Capone.[47] The focal point for Sinaloa in Chicago is the city's "Little Village" neighborhood. From this strategic point, the cartel distributes their product at the wholesale level to dozens of local street gangs, as much as 2 metric tons a month, in a city with over 120,000 documented gang members. The Gangster Disciples are one of the local gangs most actively working with the cartel.[48]

Arrest and seizures

On 11 May 2008, Alfonso Gutiérrez Loera, cousin of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, and 5 other drug traffickers were arrested after a shootout with Federal Police officers in Culiacan, Sinaloa. Along with the captured suspects, 16 assault rifles, 3 grenades, 102 magazines and 3,543 ammunition rounds were seized.[49]

On 25 February 2009, the U.S. government announced the arrest of 750 members of the Sinaloa Cartel across the U.S. in Operation Xcellerator. They also announced the seizure of more than $59 million in cash and numerous vehicles, planes, and boats.[50][51]

In March 2009, the Mexican Government announced the deployment of 1,000 Federal Police officers and 5,000 Mexican Army soldiers to restore order in Ciudad Juárez, which has suffered the highest number of casualties in the country.[52]

On 20 August 2009, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) broke up a large Mexican drug operation in [53]

The Sinaloa cartel’s loss of partners in Mexico does not appear to have affected its ability to smuggle drugs from South America to the USA. On the contrary, based on seizure reports, the Sinaloa cartel appears to be the most active smuggler of cocaine. The reports also demonstrated the cartels possess the ability to establish operations in previously unknown areas, such as Central America and South America, even as far south as Peru, Paraguay and Argentina. It also appears to be most active in diversifying its export markets; rather than relying solely on U.S. drug consumption, it has made an effort to supply distributors of drugs in Latin American and European countries.[26]

On 19 December 2013, the Federal Police of Mexico killed Gonzalo "El Macho Prieto" Inzunza in a gun battle in Puerto Penasco, Sonora. Inzunza was believed to be one of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's chief cartel leaders.

In December 2013, three suspected members of the cartel were arrested in Lipa City in Batangas province, the Philippines with 84 kilograms of methamphetamine.[54]

In February 2014, "El Chapo" Guzmán was arrested. The capture of the Sinaloa Cartel's "El Chapo" Guzmán ignited a fight over the trial's location. Calls for his extradition to the United States started just hours after his arrest. Guzmán also faces federal indictment in several locations including San Diego, New York, and Texas, among other places.

On July 11, 2015 "El Chapo" escaped from a maximum security prison, which is his second successful jailbreak from a maximum security facility in 14 years.

Current alliances

Since February 2010, the major cartels have aligned in two factions: one integrated by the Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel and Los Zetas; the other faction integrated by the Gulf Cartel and Sinaloa Cartel.[55] In addition to maintaining its anti-Zetas alliance with the Gulf cartel, Sinaloa in 2011 affiliated itself with the Knights Templar in Michoacan, and to counter Los Zetas in Jalisco state, Sinaloa affiliated itself with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.[56]

Allegations of collusion with Mexican federal government forces

In May 2009, the U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) aired multiple reports alleging that the Mexican federal police and military were working in collusion with the Sinaloa Cartel. In particular, the report claimed the government was helping the Sinaloa Cartel to take control of the Juarez Valley area and destroy other cartels, especially the Juarez Cartel. NPR's reporters interviewed dozens of officials and ordinary people for the journalistic investigation. One report quotes a former Juarez police commander who claimed the entire department was working for the Sinaloa Cartel and helping it to fight other groups. He also claimed that the Sinaloa Cartel had bribed the military. Also quoted was a Mexican reporter who claimed hearing numerous times from the public that the military had been involved in murders. Another source in the story was the U.S. trial of Manuel Fierro-Mendez, an ex-Juarez police captain who admitted to working for the Sinaloa Cartel. He claimed that the Sinaloa Cartel influenced the Mexican government and military in order to gain control of the region. A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent in the same trial alleged that Fierro-Mendez had contacts with a Mexican military officer. The report also alleged, with support from an anthropologist who studies drug trafficking, that data on the low arrest rate of Sinaloa Cartel members (compared to other groups) was evidence of favoritism on the part of the authorities. A Mexican official denied the allegation of favoritism, and a DEA agent and a political scientist also had alternate explanations for the arrest data.[57] Another report detailed numerous indications of corruption and influence that the cartel has within the Mexican government.[58]

Allegations of collusion with US federal government

In March 2015, BBC TV programme This World broadcast an episode entitled Secrets of Mexico's Drug War which reported on the US Government’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and ExplosivesOperation Fast and Furious which had allowed licensed firearms dealers to sell weapons to illegal buyers acting on behalf of Mexican drug cartel leaders, in particular the Sinaloa Cartel.[59] The BBC also reported on Vicente Zambada Niebla’s claims of immunity from prosecution under a deal between the Mexican and US governments and his claims that the Sinaloa Cartel’s leaders had provided US federal agents with information about rival Mexican drug gangs.[60] In the same documentary it is shown that the US Justice Department invoked national security reasons to avoid that Humberto Loya Castro, the lawyer of the Sinaloa Syndicate, could be summoned as a witness to the trial against Vicente Zambada Niebla.

Battling the Tijuana Cartel

The Sinaloa Cartel has been waging a war against the Tijuana smuggling route to the border city of San Diego, California. The rivalry between the two cartels dates back to the Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo setup of Palma's family. Félix Gallardo, following his imprisonment, bestowed the Guadalajara Cartel to his nephews in the Tijuana Cartel. On 8 November 1992, Palma struck out against the Tijuana Cartel at a disco club in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, where eight Tijuana Cartel members were killed in the shootout, the Arellano-Félix brothers having successfully escaped from the location with the assistance of Logan Heights gangster David "D" Barron.[27]

In retaliation, the Tijuana Cartel attempted to set up Guzmán at Guadalajara airport on 24 May 1993. In the shootout that followed, six civilians were killed by the hired gunmen from the Logan Heights, San Diego-based 30th Street gang.[27] The dead included Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo. The church hierarchy originally believed Ocampo was targeted as revenge for his strong stance against the drug trade. However, Mexican officials believe Ocampo just happened to be caught in cross fire.[61][62][63] The Cardinal arrived at the airport in a white Mercury Grand Marquis town car, known to be popular amongst drug barons, making it a target. Intelligence received by Logan Heights gang leader David "D" Barron was that Guzmán would be arriving in a white Mercury Grand Marquis town car.[61][62][63] This explanation, however, is often countered due to Ocampo having been wearing a long black cassock and large pectoral cross, as well as him sharing no similarity in appearance with Guzmán and having been gunned down from only two feet away at the airport.[27]

Edgar Valdez Villarreal

Los Negros have been known to employ gangs such as the Mara Salvatrucha to carry out murders and other illegal activities. The group is involved in fighting in the Nuevo Laredo region for control of the drug trafficking corridor.[11][32][64] Following the 2003 arrest of Gulf Cartel leader Osiel Cárdenas, it is believed the Sinaloa Cartel moved 200 men into the region to battle the Gulf Cartel for control.[36] The Nuevo Laredo region is an important drug trafficking corridor into Laredo, Texas, where as much as 40% of all Mexican exports pass through into the U.S.

Following the 2004 assassination of journalist Roberto Javier Mora García from El Mañana newspaper, much of the local media has been cautious about their reporting of the fighting. The cartels have pressured reporters to send messages and wage a media war. The drug war has spread to various regions of Mexico, such as Guerrero, Mexico City, Michoacán and Tamaulipas.

On 30 August 2010, Villarreal was captured by Mexican Federal Police.[65]

See also

References

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  9. ^ Profile of Sinaloa cartel www.insightcrime.org Accessed 19 July 2015
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  22. ^ Narco historias sonorenses
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  26. ^ a b
  27. ^ a b c d
  28. ^ Major Mexican Drug Trafficker’s Assets in U.S. Frozen
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  54. ^ GMA News: "Mexican drug cartel penetrates PHL; PDEA raids lab in Lipa City"] December 26, 2013
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  60. ^
  61. ^ a b
  62. ^ a b
  63. ^ a b
  64. ^
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External links

  • Sinaloa Cartel profile on InSight Crime
  • Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman-Loera on America's Most Wanted
  • —1 November 2009:San Francisco ChronicleJose Espinoza--The "Leonardo da Vinci" of the Sinaloa Cartel—
  • Why Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel Loves Selling Drugs in Chicago, Chicago magazine, October 2013
  • Money laundering takedown
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