Neat, freshly painted buildings and a renovated church line the central square. Shiny SUVs rest curbside. Some lack license plates, as if the law doesn’t apply. Mansions crown the surrounding hills. Badiraguato, a town of 7,000 in Sinaloa state, shouldn’t have such wealth. It’s among the poorest municipalities in Mexico. But you’re better off not asking questions here.
This is a secretive place, hot and quiet in the Sierra Madre foothills. There’s an army barracks, but soldiers mostly stay inside. It’s the heart of drug country, home to Mexico’s most powerful criminal syndicate: the Sinaloa cartel, led by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.