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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Chicago’s Heroin Problem: City’s Open-Air Drug Markets’ Surprising Connection To Mexican Drug Cartels (Video)

December 13, 2013

The Huffington Post, 12/12/2013

chicagoIn a Wednesday panel on HuffPost Live, Reader reporter Mick Dumke, Bloomberg reporter John Lippert and Chicago Recovery Alliance director Dan Bigg spoke on the Windy City’s heroin “open-air” heroin markets on the city’s West Side and its connection to the powerful Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel and its kingpin, “Public Enemy Number 1″ El Chapo Guzman.

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Mexico extradites top cartel member

November 22, 2013

San Antonio Express, 11/21/2013

Mexican Police catch drug dealer photo by Jesús Villaseca P Latitudes PressMexico extradited an alleged former top member of the Zetas drug cartel Thursday to face narcotics trafficking and money laundering charges in Laredo, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent said.

Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office would not confirm or deny Thursday afternoon that Iván Velázquez Caballero, known by the nickname “El Taliban,” had been sent to the U.S. But Mike Vigil, the former chief of international operations for the DEA, said Velazquez is now in the country.

Velázquez is one of more than 30 people charged in a massive conspiracy indictment, alleging that, between 2000 and 2008, the Zetas smuggled large amounts of drugs into the U.S. and committed homicides in Texas as part of their narcotics trafficking operations.

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