Prison releases signal the return of Mexico’s drug lords from the 1990s

06/01/2021

Source: El País

In the early 1990s, Mexico lived through the bloody rivalry between the Sinaloa cartel and the Tijuana cartel, in the country’s first major narco war. The fallout would leave a nation strewn with corpses and lay a path for every other conflict that has come since. Until then, drugs in Mexico had been controlled by a tight group of allied criminal organizations, which split into factions following the arrest of drug boss Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo. His nephews would go on to lead the Tijuana cartel, also known as the Arellano Félix cartel, while infamous Mexican narco trafficker Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada led the Sinaloa cartel. The intense rivalry between these criminal organizations would change Mexico forever.

This year, the United States will release Vicente Zambada, the first-born son of El Mayo, along with Eduardo Arellano Félix, one of the seven siblings who took over from their uncle in the rival group. The collaboration agreements with US justice, particularly concerning the cartels dealings with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), mean that the pair will not spend the rest of their lives in jail. Zambada betrayed his own father in 2019, revealing everything he knew about the cartel at Joaquín “El Chapo” Gúzman’s trial in New York, even after being groomed to serve in it since birth. Vicente had been extradited in 2010 and cooperated with the authorities since then; although the latter have not confirmed a date, he either has been already released or will soon be at some point this year. Although Eduardo Arellano Félix played a smaller role in the Tijuana cartel, he acted as informant and his sentence is due to expire in August.

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