Mexico’s security forces have captured the son of Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada in an operation reportedly directed at the capo himself, indicating they may be closing in on the last and most elusive of the older-generation leaders of the group.
In a November 12 operation in Culiacan, Sinaloa, members of the army and the navy arrested Ismael Zambada Imperial, alias “El Mayito Gordo” (Chubby Little Mayo), and several suspected associates, reported El Universal.
According to the BBC, Mayito is the elder Zambada’s oldest son, and was allegedly involved in trafficking drugs to the United States, but is not thought to have played a leading role in the Sinaloa structure’s operations. Meanwhile, unidentified sources told La Jornada that Mayito’s operations were mainly limited to Culiacan.
Both Mayito and his brother Serafin Zambada — who was arrested last year — flaunted their wealth on social media (see photos), and Mayito’s accounts were monitored in the investigation leading up to his arrest, reported BBC. (See Twitter post below in which Mayito claims that, despite his nickname, he is “no longer fat.”)
Mayito was transferred to Mexico City following his arrest, reported Riodoce.
Ya no estoy gordo les afirmo
— Mayito Gordo (@ismaelimperial) October 24, 2013
InSight Crime Analysis
The latest operation — which according to El Universal was targeting El Mayo himself — is another sign authorities are closing the circle around the Sinaloa kingpin. Following the February arrest of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and the alleged heart failure of Juan Jose Esparragoza, alias “El Azul,” in June, El Mayo has ostensibly been left alone at the head of the Sinaloa structure. There have already been some signs of internal tensions in Mexico’s most powerful and international group, and any weakening of El Mayo’s network could serve to further disrupt the dynamics of the cartel.
SEE ALSO: El Mayo Profile
Mayito is the third Zambada son arrested, after Serafin and Vicente Zambada Niebla, the latter of whom was captured in 2009 and extradited to the United States, where he pled guilty to drug trafficking charges in 2013. The arrest also follows on the captures and killings within the past year of various key El Mayo enforcers and associates.
While there appears to be little formal information available about Mayito’s role in the Sinaloa network, Milenio detailed several “narcocorrido” lyrics (a style of Mexican music that celebrates the drug trafficking lifestyle) in his honor, which describe him as a “humble,” good leader, who has the backing of his bodyguards, “soldiers,” and the “people.”