Who took over for El Chapo after his arrest? - The Comprehensive Minds

Who Took Over for El Chapo After His Arrest? 

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, former leader of the Sinaloa cartel, considered by the US government to be the most powerful drug dealer of all time, now disappears in a 7x12 (2.13 x 3.65 meter) concrete cell in ADX Florence, a Supermax prison in Colorado.

Who took over for El Chapo after his arrest
photo: Wikipedia/United_States_v._Guzmán

In 2019, he was convicted of ten criminal cases, including money laundering, drug trafficking, and kidnapping. El Chapo was eventually sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release. Unlike the other times, he has been imprisoned, this time El Chapo has no friends in prison, and his contact with the outside world is extremely limited. There's no way he's running the Sinaloa cartel remotely. 

Unfortunately, however, the arrest and conviction of El Chapo hardly put a damper on the cartel's ability to make money. More than one newspaper has indicated that the lack of change in cartel companies shows how one person is available in the narco-economy

In fact, Sinaloa members do not consider themselves a cartel, but rather a "federation" of families, most of whom come from the Golden Triangle, a mountainous region where the Mexican states of Sinaloa, Chihuahua, and Durango come together. This area is also notorious for cultivating and producing many illegal drugs. There have always been multiple groups led by different bosses within the Cartel; The El Chapo faction was simply one of the strongest and the savviest when it comes to public perception. 

After El Chapo was arrested in January 2016, three different leadership groups were aligned to three factions within the cartel fighting 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 LopezNuñez aka 'El Licenciado' a former state police officer who turned the right hand of El Chapo.

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The El Licenciado faction has apparently joined forces with an allied ally, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). A third faction was led by Ismael 'ElMayo' Zambada, El Chapo's former partner. El Maya had the support of the Beltran Leyva Organization, a former ally of the Sinaloa cartel. 

In some cases, El Mayo and the Guzman's worked together and shared power, so it's difficult to determine the initial level of rivalry between these two groups. The internal struggle for control of the Sinaloa cartel set a new wave of violence by Mexico, especially in the Sinaloa capital of Culiacan. 

Murder, kidnappings, and extortion all increased. In January 2017, El Chapo was extradited to the US. According to government data, in the first half of the year, Sinaloa State saw 879 murders compared to 524 over the same period in 2016. This is probably an understatement, these are the murders the government was aware of. 

In February 2017, Licenciado allegedly set up an ambush to assassinate El Mayo, as did Alfred and Ivan Guzman. They escaped with minor injuries, however, some of their bodyguards were shot and killed. Shortly after the failed assassination attempt, Lisenciado, along with his son Damaso Lopez Serrano aka 'El Mini Lic', launched a cyberwar attack on the Guzmans with bots and hackers. 

But the scheme backfired when one of the hackers used a rigged smartphone to secretly capture Licenciado videos and pass them on 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 crossed the border and handed himself over to US authorities

Apparently, he was being chased by El Mayo. EL Mini Lic negotiated quickly to provide information in exchange for becoming a protected witness. Licenciado also came into the hands of the US government, he was extradited in early 2018. 

This left only two factions fighting for control of the Sinaloa Cartel. A ceasefire and power-sharing partnership were quickly formed between El Mayo and the Guzmans. 

In February 2019, a Sinaloan journalist claimed that Los Chapitos, led by the Guzmans, controlled street-level drug, weapons, and defense companies while El Mayo stood on level, negotiated, and secured major deals. Small skirmishes continued between the two factions, 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 cartelists shot across the city and also killed various civilian, governmental and military targets. The cartel was better equipped than authorities, including armored vehicles, rocket launchers, and heavy machine guns. 

The cartel took several hostages, including eight soldiers. Within about 4 hours of the battle beginning, the government let Ovidio go. Five people died in the Battle of Culiacán and the government sent in special forces as reinforcements to patrol the city. The kidnapping of Ovid and the violence surrounding its release added to unrest in the Sinaloa region. 

The tension between the El Mayo faction against Los Chapitos escalated. An intense battle began several months before the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel. On November 26, 2019, El Mayo supporters beat 11 municipal police owners of Culiacán 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 by one of the lieutenants of El Mayo.

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On February 2, Los Chapitos fired large-scale weapons in a few weeks from Culiacán that were El Mayo territory. On February 26, a close associate of the El Mayo leadership team was assassinated. As a terrorist tactic, the murder was recorded and uploaded to social media. 

On March 6, a murder of a prominent El Mayo supporter failed. After this attack, Los Chapitos and El Mayo's action negotiated a ceasefire, with the Guzmans ceding Culiacán to the El Mayo faction for several weeks. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. limits borders and shuts down businesses as well as shelters in place orders in many states.

Much of the insurgency stopped when the Sinaloa Cartel had to focus on maintaining its lucrative medicine business. While the Sinaloa cartel is divided into other rackets such as kidnapping, money laundering, and stealing gasoline from nationalized pipelines, drugs are still central to the operation. Drug trafficking, such as money laundering, plunged short and rebounded as the Cartel found its way around Covid-19 restrictions. 

Both the Sinaloa cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) actually used the pandemic to maintain regular drug shipments to manipulate the methamphetamine trade and increase costs in the U.S. consumer market. By late spring of 2020, a few Mexican newspapers claimed that El Mayo had given up the fight for leadership of the Sinaloa cartel. 

He is in his seventies and is apparently quite ill with diabetes. El Chapo's sons Ivan, Ovidio, and Alfredoare are now in charge. But the truth is that the Sinaloa cartel is enormous at this point. It operates in 54 countries, connects manufacturers and distributors, bankers and companies, and extracts money at every step - there 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 GenerationCartel. Consisting of factions split from various cartels and local militia groups, the CJNG has grown rapidly since its formation in 2010. in CJNG, CJNG leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, aka "El Mencho", is known for his cunning and brutality. 

He is one of the most sought-after men by both Mexico and the US. In fact, the US has offered a reward of $ 10 million for its capture. 

Most recently, the CJNG has called for bloody peat bogs to combat Sinaloa's control of several Mexican cities, especially valuable items that border towns such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez are smuggling. It will be interesting to see if the SinaloaCartel can maintain its position at the top of the CJNG and other cartels are for their company.

 The whole article is based on publicly available information unless otherwise noted.

Credit: The Infographics Show

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