HomeNewsAnalysisThe Slow Death of Mexico’s Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel
ANALYSIS

The Slow Death of Mexico's Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel

JALISCO CARTEL / 1 MAY 2020 BY ANA TORRES EN

Mexico's Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel has found itself on the ropes, fending off authorities and attacks by the rival Jalisco Cartel and the government.

In recent months, police operations have hit the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel (CSRL) and its leader, José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, alias "El Marro," hard. Five members were captured in an April 12 raid, in which authorities also seized high-powered weapons.

A joint marine and police raid in March led to the arrest of the crime boss's father in the state of Guanajuato, La Opinión reported. Seven cartel operatives were also captured in the operation, Página Central reported, citing statements by Sophia Huett López, the commissioner of the state's citizen security strategy unit. 

In response, cartel gunmen blocked roads with burning vehicles in Celaya, a central city in Guanajuato, Milenio reported. Seven other municipalities in Guanajuato, the cartel's stronghold, also saw their roads blocked in March. 

The latest blows to the CSRL follow the alleged arrest of 35 members in a massive sweep by authorities in January. The group, known for dominating the oil theft racket, has been a target of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who promised to stanch the siphoning of fuel from the country's pipelines.

SEE ALSO: Profile of José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, alias ‘El Marro'

At the same time, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generación - CJNG) has ramped up its longstanding war against the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel in an effort to corner El Marro.

In January, CJNG members burst into the church where El Marro's sister, Karem Elizabeth Yépez Ortiz, was celebrating her wedding. The gunmen opened fire, killing the bride. El Marro managed to escape the gunfire.  

The conflict between the CJNG and CSRL has turned Guanajuato into the most murderous state in Mexico. In 2019, the state recorded nearly 4,500 homicidesaccording to information from the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System. 

In March 2019, President López Obrador announced an operation called Golpe de Timón, meaning a "Change of Course," aimed at dismantling the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Even with its bank accounts frozen and under constant attacks from authorities and its rivals, the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel has so far managed to stave off its demise.  

Víctor Sánchez, a security consultant and expert from the University of Coahuila, told InSight Crime that the group's resiliency stems from three factors: its leader, its diverse income sources and its roots in the communities where it operates.

According to Sánchez, the CSRL has managed to hold onto its territories in Guanajuato despite confrontations with the CJNG and state forces because El Marro has managed to stay atop the group and lead it.

Additionally, the CSRL retains a core group of members dedicated to extortion who collect a considerable amount of income. The influx of cash keeps them tied to the organization despite its recent economic difficulties.

Likewise, an advantage that the group has over the CJNG is that its cells dedicated to oil theft, are deeply rooted in the communities where they operate, Sánchez added. 

SEE ALSO: Mexico’s Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel Risks Burning Too Bright, Too Fast

Jaime López-Aranda, a former Mexican high-ranking police officer now working as a security consultant, told InSight Crime that though the group may rely on protection from local authorities, its influence does not reach state or federal levels which will limit its ability to survive in the long run.

Another issue limiting the group’s expansion is the fragility of its alliances with groups like Los Viagras or the Sinaloa Cartel to confront the CJNG. 

Víctor Sánchez said that while these organizations have allegedly loaned supplies and personnel to support the CSRL in its efforts, they have not coordinated actions that would allow the group to gain power. 

For these reasons, both experts consulted by InSight Crime agreed that the CSRL is unlikely to survive much longer. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 30 MAY 2014

A spate of murders in Guerrero, Mexico appears to be linked to a power struggle between local gangs as criminal…

AYOTZINAPA / 28 SEP 2015

September 26 marked the one year anniversary of the abduction of 43 students near Iguala, Mexico. The event remains a…

MEXICO / 2 JUN 2011

Mexico's state-owned oil company Pemex filed a lawsuit in Houston against nine U.S. oil companies accused of buying and selling…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.