As Mexico catches cartel boss, others wait in wings

Agence France-Presse

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Mexico has finally caught its most powerful drug kingpin, but others like "El Mayo," "La Tuta," and "El Mencho" remain on the loose

OTHERS TO TAKE THE CROWN. Now that Mexico's biggest drug trafficker Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is arrested, other drug traffickers may be on the race to take his crown. Photo by Gerardo Magallon/AFP

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Mexico has finally caught its most powerful drug kingpin, but others with nicknames like “El Mayo,” “La Tuta,” and “El Mencho” remain on the loose, ready to take the crown.

While the capture of Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is a victory for President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government, his arrest could unleash a new wave of violence as rivals tussle for his turf.

“There’s going to be a huge void with this capture,” Mike Vigil, a former chief of international operations at the US Drug Enforcement Administration, told AFP.

“There’s a strong possibility that this may increase the violence in Mexico.”

Guzman, who was captured by Mexican marines in the Pacific resort city of Mazatlan on Saturday, made powerful enemies during his time at the top.

Would-be suitors 

Many things can happen in the wake of his capture, security experts said.

In the least bloody scenario, Guzman’s main associate, veteran cartel capo Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, will grab the reins and continue business as usual.

But internal strife could hit the cartel if an ambitious underling decides to fight his way to the top.

“We are now looking for violence between Chapo’s kids and El Mayo’s kids, the next generation trying to get control of the cartel,” a US security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Rival gangs could also smell blood and make incursions into Sinaloa’s territory, sparking the type of turf wars that have killed more than 77,000 people in Mexico in the past seven years.

The threat could come from the once-powerful Zetas cartel, even though the northeastern-based gang was weakened after its leader’s arrest last year, analysts said.

Even loose allies could make a grab for it, like the cult-like Knights Templar gang based in the western state of Michoacan and led by a former teacher, Servando “La Tuta” Gomez.

“There’s a very strong possibility that other organizations such as the Zetas and the Knights Templar may try to attack the Sinaloa cartel and give them a deadly blow,” Vigil said.

The Knights Templar, however, have been on the ropes since civilian vigilante militias emerged last year and drove them out of several towns.

Mexico’s top drug lord

The US security official, who requested anonymity because he is involved in cartel investigations, said a prime candidate to become Mexico’s top drug lord is Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho,” leader of the Jalisco New General cartel.

The gang, based in western Jalisco state, has been fighting the Knights Templar and the emergence of vigilantes has helped Oseguera’s gang grab half of Michoacan, making it the “fastest growing” cartel, the official said.

“I think Mencho is now the most important trafficker in Mexico,” the official said, adding that Guzman’s arrest “will place Mencho in an open war against whatever remains of the Sinaloa cartel.”

“El Chapo tried to have him killed a few years ago” because he saw him as a threat, he said.

Sinaloa not dead yet 

Although Guzman’s associate Zambada is qualified to take over Sinaloa, he is also being hunted down by security forces who “almost got him” recently, the official said.

Guzman’s arrest came after the capture of a dozen Sinaloa operatives, including top hitmen close to Zambada.

“It is a great strategic blow to the Sinaloa cartel. The drug trafficking map of Mexico will be reorganized,” said Raul Benitez Manaut, security expert at Mexico’s National Autonomous University.

But the Sinaloa cartel could easily weather the storm because it is a massive criminal organization, structured like a conglomerate that can still operate when its CEO is absent, analysts said.

“The most important cartel remains the one in Sinaloa. The others are much smaller,” said Mexican security expert Samuel Gonzalez, a former federal narcotics prosecutor.

“The Sinaloa cartel was hurt, but it won’t collapse,” Gonzalez said. “Every space tends to be filled. There will be someone to fill the (drug) market to the United States.”

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!