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Mexico

Mexico is home to some of the hemisphere’s largest, most sophisticated and violent organized criminal groups. These organizations have drawn from Mexico’s long history of smuggling and its close proximity to the United States, the world’s largest economy, to grow into a regional threat.

Latest News

Laborers from Mexico, Central America Exploited Through US Work Visa Program

NEWS / 8 DEC 2021

A transnational labor trafficking network brought dozens of individuals from Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico to the United States under the guise of agricultural work only to exploit them using brutal…

Daring Prison Break Shows Ongoing Influence of Oil Thieves in Mexico

NEWS / 7 DEC 2021

A daring prison break in central Mexico was focused on freeing the leader of a relatively modest oil theft group, showing the importance of this criminal economy in parts of…

Mexico Criminals Target Kindergarten After Huge Lottery Earnings

NEWS / 24 NOV 2021

Winning a lottery prize of close to $1 million should have been a positive, life-changing event for a kindergarten and its community in Chiapas, Mexico. It was anything but.

Mexico Profile

Criminal Actors

Armed Groups

Mexico's criminal landscape has morphed in recent years from one dominated by a handful of powerful cartels into a fragmented web of nearly 200 criminal groups defined by fragile and fast-changing alliances. While the Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) still dominate the scene, other upstart, hyperviolent groups have carved out a place for themselves through oil theft and other predatory crimes like extortion and kidnapping.

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Personalities

Los Chapitos

MEXICO PERSONALITIES / SEPTEMBER 21, 2021

The now-jailed former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo,” had many sons, but only a select few of them, known collectively as “Los Chapitos,” are at the…

José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, alias 'El Marro'

MEXICO PERSONALITIES / AUGUST 3, 2020

José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, alias “El Marro,” is the leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel (CSRL) and one of the individuals responsible for the growing violence that has…

Dámaso López Núñez, alias 'Licenciado'

MEXICO / 2018-07-09

Dámaso López Núñez, alias "Licenciado," is a prominent figure of the Sinaloa Cartel. Authorities believe he was the closest associate of legendary kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, who was arrested…

Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias 'El Mencho'

EL MENCHO / MAY 21, 2019

Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias "El Mencho," is the leader and founder of the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG), and the man responsible for overseeing the once upstart criminal faction's transition into…

Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, alias 'Chapo Isidro'

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 2016-11-17 15:28:01

Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, alias "Chapo" or "Chapito" Isidro, is a relatively young, formerly low-profile figure believed to have operated in the Mexican underworld since the 1990s. His growing influence…

Mario Ramirez Treviño, alias 'X20'

GULF CARTEL / 2016-11-17 15:28:34

Mario Ramirez Treviño, alias X20, was the head of the Gulf Cartel, an organization that has trafficked contraband and illegal drugs across the northeast of Mexico for close to 40…

Alejandro 'Omar' Treviño Morales, alias 'Z42'

MEXICO / JULY 17, 2021

Alejandro "Omar" Treviño Morales, alias "Z42," was a member of criminal organization the Zetas and brother to former Zetas leader Miguel Treviño Morales, alias "Z40, " who was…

Servando Gomez Martinez, alias 'La Tuta'

LA FAMILIA MICHOACANA / 2017-03-09 23:49:35

Servando Gomez Martinez, alias "La Tuta," was a former high-ranking member of the Familia Michoacana, who split from the group following the supposed death of top commander Nazario Moreno Gonzalez,…

Edgardo Leyva Escandon, alias '24'

ALIAS 24 / 2017-03-09 19:02:45

Edgardo Leyva Escandon, alias "24" has worked with Mexico's Tijuana Cartel, also known as the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO), since 1994, and is a specialist in arms and security. The…

José Jesús Méndez Vargas, alias 'El Chango'

EL CHANGO / 2017-03-10 00:07:05

José Jesús Méndez Vargas, alias “El Chango”, fue una figura clave del grupo criminal mexicano La Familia Michoacana, y era considerado la mano derecha del líder del grupo, Nazario Moreno,…

Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias 'El Chayo'

EL CHAYO / JULY 24, 2019

Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias "El Chayo" or "The Craziest One" (El Mas Loco) was a founding member of the Familia Michoacana and later a leader of the Knights Templar…

Vicente Carrillo Leyva, alias 'El Ingeniero'

EL INGENIERO (JUAREZ) / 2017-03-10 00:12:34

Vicente Carrillo Leyva, alias "El Ingeniero," was a top leader of the Juarez Cartel. He was captured in 2009 by Mexican authorities.

Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, alias 'El Viceroy'

EL VICEROY / 2017-03-10 00:13:34

Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, alias "El Viceroy," inherited the Juárez Cartel after his brother died in 1997. At that point, the cartel was the most powerful drug trafficking organization in Mexico.

Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez, alias 'El Coss'

EL COSS / 2017-09-27

Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, alias "El Coss," headed the Gulf Cartel, which has its headquarters in Tamaulipas, along the eastern part of the US-Mexico border. He was detained by…

Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias 'El Chapo'

EL CHAPO / 2019-03-29

Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzmán Loera, alias "El Chapo," heads up an alliance of powerful drug traffickers known as the Sinaloa Cartel. His ability to simultaneously co-opt public…

Ismael Zambada García, alias 'El Mayo'

EL MAYO / MAY 5, 2021

Ismael Zambada Garcia, alias "El Mayo," heads a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel. Along his recently escaped partner, Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias "El Chapo," El Mayo is one of…

Hector Beltran Leyva, alias 'El H'

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 2016-11-17 15:34:18

Hector Beltran Leyva, alias "El H," was the head of the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) in Mexico. Once one of the most feared groups in the region, the BLO has been decimated…

Fernando Sanchez Arellano, alias 'El Ingeniero'

EL INGENIERO (TIJUANA) / 2016-10-20 20:29:31

Fernando Sanchez Arellano, alias "El Ingeniero" or "Fernandito," was the enigmatic head of the Tijuana Cartel, until his capture in June 2014. El Ingeniero is the son of Enedina Arellano…

Antonio Cardenas Guillen, alias 'Tony Tormenta'

GULF CARTEL / 2016-11-17 15:34:48

Antonio Cardenas Guillen, alias "Tony Tormenta," headed up the financial and logistics side of the Gulf Cartel, which his brother, Osiel Cardenas Guillen, once ran with an iron fist.

Alejandro Flores Cacho

ALEJANDRO FLORES CACHO / 2016-11-17 15:35:25

Alejandro Flores Cacho runs the air operations of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico. A mysterious figure, relatively little is known about Flores Cacho except that he has created an operation…

Heriberto Lazcano, alias 'Z3'

MEXICO PERSONALITIES / 2016-10-20 19:47:17

Heriberto Lazcano, alias "Z3," was a former commander in the Mexican special forces, before going on to head the Zetas’ drug trafficking operations. He was killed in a shootout…

Miguel Angel Treviño, alias 'Z40'

MEXICO PERSONALITIES / JULY 17, 2021

Miguel Angel Treviño, alias "Z40," was a top commander of the Zetas criminal organization in Mexico before his capture by Mexican Marines on July 15, 2013. …

News

EL MENCHO / 18 NOV 2021

The arrest of the wife of CJNG boss El Mencho is being interpreted as a win against the cartel and a significant blow to the group's money laundering ability. But…

ECUADOR / 16 NOV 2021

After yet another prison massacre, Ecuadorean authorities have doubled down on Mexico’s two biggest cartels being behind gang warfare in the South American nation by providing weapons and cash to…

ELITES AND CRIME / 11 NOV 2021

The disgraced former governor of Chihuahua, César Duarte, may soon be on a flight home. A US judge approved his extradition back to Mexico to face charges of conspiracy and…

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 10 NOV 2021

Criminal groups across western Mexico have increased their control of illegal logging, silencing landowners, government officials and even entire communities to ensure near-total impunity.

FENTANYL / 9 NOV 2021

A recent seizure of fentanyl in Mexico has shed further light on the capacity of organized crime groups to mass-produce the deadly synthetic opioid. Still, the timing suggests US officials…

BELIZE / 9 NOV 2021

While contraband cigarettes are a mainstay across Latin America, Belize has confirmed its status as a major port of entry for illegal tobacco into Mexico.

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