Mexico's authorities have gone on the offensive against the Sinaloa Cartel, capturing five alleged lieutenants in the last month and killing one.
Among those taken down was Luis Alberto Cabrera, alias "El Arqui," shot dead by the Mexican Army on January 20, and Fidel Mancipas Franco or Roberto Labrador Lopez, alias "El Fidel," who was arrested in the state of Durango and is wanted by an Arizona court over the killing of 11 undocumented migrants in 2009.
A Mexican military spokesman said Cabrera's death "significantly altered the leadership structure and operational capacity of the Sinaloa Cartel." Authorities arrested Cabrera's brother, a deputy in charge of Durango and southern Chihuahua states, in December. Soldiers also captured one of the cartel's top financial operators, and federal police said they arrested two of its main arms suppliers.
A recent security initiative in the battleground metropolitan region of Comarca Lagunera, much of which is Sinaloa territory, has so far resulted in more than 800 arrests. The initiative followed two similar operations in Guerrero and Veracruz states.
InSight Crime Analysis
The timing of the offensive against the Sinaloa Cartel, in the run-up to July's presidential elections, is conspicuous. Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his party, the National Action Party (PAN) have been accused of favoring the cartel. The PAN has staked the success of its presidency on improving Mexico's security.
With violence levels remaining high, this effort against the Sinaloa Cartel and its iconic leader Joaquin Guzman, alias "El Chapo," could be a way to show they are serious about fighting crime.
Despite the recent arrests of the Sinaloa lieutenants, the party faces significant challenges in the upcoming presidential election. CNN Mexico reports that the PAN's main competitor, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), leads in the early polls by more than 20 points.
What's more, the campaign to illustrate they are not playing favorites in the war against the cartels is reaching ridiculous levels. One aspiring PAN presidential nominee has released a video game on his website depicting the candidate hunting for a digital Guzman (see video below).