11 killed in cartel clash in Mexican border state

September 29, 2014

09/29/14 Associated Press

chihuahua-mapProsecutors in the Mexican border state of Chihuahua say 11 people died in a confrontation between rival cartels fighting for control of turf in the Tarahumara mountain range. The state’s Attorney General’s Office said Sunday in a statement that the fighting took place on Friday in the municipality of Guachochi. At the scene, officials found more than 1,000 bullet casings and four burned SUVs.

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Sinaloa drug cartel member pleads guilty to drug charges in N.H.

September 17, 2014

09/15/14 Portland Press Herald

hands in handcuffsCONCORD, N.H. – The U.S. Attorney’s office in New Hampshire says a member of the Sinaloa drug cartel has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Jesus Gonzalo Palazuelos Soto of Mexico was in federal court in Concord on Monday. Prosecutors said he was arrested in Spain in 2012, where he was to monitor the delivery of 346 kilograms of cocaine hidden in a shipping container. Prosecutors say the delivery resulted from negotiations between members of the cartel, allegedly led by Joaquin Guzman, and undercover FBI agents posing as members of an organized crime syndicate. Guzman, known as “El Chapo,” was arrested earlier this year in Mexico.

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Inside Mexico’s feared Sinaloa drugs cartel

May 16, 2014

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán

BBC News, 05/15/14

Some of Mexico’s leading drugs traffickers have been killed or captured in recent months, including the head of the powerful Sinaloa cartel. But inside the secretive world of this feared criminal organisation it’s clear that it remains as active as ever. Hector is not what you might expect a drugs smuggler for the Sinaloa cartel to look like. There is no flashy truck and chrome-plated Kalashnikov. Instead, the spry 68-year-old drives a tiny Honda and runs a small convenience store.

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Mexico: Convicted Trafficker Now Aiding U.S. Officials

April 11, 2014

handcuffsThe New York Times, 04/11/14

The United States attorney in Chicago said Thursday that a top member of the Sinaloa gang had been cooperating with the authorities since he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges a year ago. The man, Jesús Vicente Zambada Niebla, who was arrested in Mexico in 2009, is the son of Ismael Zambada García, believed to be one of the leaders of the Sinaloa gang.

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After ‘El Chapo’ arrest, focus turns to next Sinaloa drug boss

March 4, 2014

handcuffsLA Times, 3/2/14

With the arrest of Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the leadership of Mexico’s largest and most sophisticated illegal drug operation has probably transferred to Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, a 66-year-old former farmer with a knack for business — and maintaining a low profile. But Zambada is likely to discover, much as Guzman did, that inheriting the throne of top capo comes with a series of complications worthy of a Shakespearean king.

Like his predecessor, Zambada is a country boy made good who hails from the badlands of Sinaloa, the traditional heart of Mexican drug-smuggling culture. Though he has enjoyed less publicity than Guzman, he has long been considered a high-level target for U.S. and Mexican authorities, who have managed to nab a number of his family members and close associates in recent years. Now that pressure is likely to increase substantially.

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Top Mexico Cartel to Keep on Despite Capo Capture

February 25, 2014

prison cell blockAbc News, 2/25/14

The powerful Sinaloa cartel is expected to go right on selling billions of dollars of illegal drugs despite the takedown of its legendary leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who leaves in place a sophisticated distribution network and business plan.

Guzman’s capture Saturday was undoubtedly a major blow for a criminal ring likened to a Fortune 500 company — the loss of its chief executive coming on the heels of more than a dozen arrests of key lieutenants and lower-level operators in recent months. Yet the cartel remains the major supplier of cocaine to the U.S., and the arrest did not touch the cartel’s immense political power, nurtured through the bribery of officials, or its thriving money laundering operations.

“As long as these other structures remain in place, all things being equal, Sinaloa will be able to continue to operate if not as normal, at least as the most powerful criminal organization in Mexico,” said David Shirk, director of the University of San Diego’s Justice in Mexico Project.

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Ciudad Juárez, a Border City Known for Killing, Gets Back to Living

December 16, 2013

The New York Times, 12/14/2013

cuidad juarezWith violence down to a quarter of its peak, Ciudad Juárez, a perennial symbol of drug war devastation, is experiencing what many here describe as a boom. New restaurants pop up weekly, a few with a hipster groove. Schools and homes in some neighborhoods are gradually filling again, while new nightclubs throb on weekends with wall-to-wall teenagers and 20-somethings who insist on reclaiming the freedom to work and play without being consumed by worry.

Critics here fear that the changes are merely cosmetic, and there is still disagreement over what, exactly, has led to the drastic drop in violence. Some attribute it to an aggressive detention policy by the police; others say the worst killers have died or fled, or that the Sinaloa drug cartel has simply defeated its rivals, leaving a peace of sorts that could quickly be undone.

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