6/6/2017 InSight Crime
Recent boasting by government officials in Mexico about the country’s success in capturing criminal bosses has reopened a longstanding debate about the strategic goals of Mexico’s organized crime policies.
The administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto recently disclosed that during his five and a half years in office, 107 of 122 high-ranking members of organized crime groups have been either arrested or killed.
These include Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán; El Chapo’s right-hand man Dámaso López Núñez, alias “El Licenciado”; Servando “La Tuta” Gómez, the founder of the Knights Templar; Juárez Cartel leader Vicente Carrillo; and Héctor Beltrán Leyva, the leader of the eponymous Sinaloa offshoot organization.
The capos now dead or behind bars represent a wide swath of the elite criminal landscape, though arguably Mexico’s government is disproportionately failing to target the Sinaloa Cartel’s foremost figures, a major criticism of the policy under prior administration, headed by Felipe Calderón. The group of Sinaloa bosses still at large reportedly includes Sinaloa bosses Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada and Juan José “El Azul” Esparragoza, the latter of whose death was the subject of unconfirmed rumors in 2014, and Chapo Guzmán’s sons, Iván Archivaldo and Alfredo.