A new leader of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel has reportedly emerged following the February arrest of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, lending instant notoriety to a previously unknown member of this powerful drug trafficking organization.
According to information given to Mexican authorities by a US court, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada delegated most of the cartel's operations in northern Mexico to German Magaña Pasos, alias "El Paisa," no less than five years ago, reported Infobae.
Despite his high ranking, very little is known about Magaña: no photo of him has been released to the public, and he does not appear on a list of the most wanted drug traffickers in Mexico, although the United States has reportedly requested his extradition, according to Terra. Magaña is allegedly responsible for overseeing large shipments of cocaine to the United States and commands a legion of hitmen operating throughout the country.
Magaña reportedly keeps a low profile by having his partner, Sergio Garduño Escobedo, handle communication with other drug traffickers, reported Diario Presente.
InSight Crime Analysis
Magaña's alleged placement in the upper ranks of the Sinaloa Cartel -- widely considered the largest and most powerful drug trafficking organization in the Americas -- is likely to convert him practically overnight from an unknown into one of the most wanted criminals in Latin America. While little is currently known about him, it is unlikely that will remain the case in the coming weeks.
Despite the information that has emerged about El Paisa, it is important to note that the Sinaloa Cartel essentially operates like a confederation of criminal organizations, and its leadership is akin to a board of directors. Based on the US information, Magaña is undoubtedly an important figure in the organization, but other leaders such as Ismael Zambada Garcia, alias "El Mayo," are still active and likely continue to run many of the cartel's operations.
SEE ALSO: Sinaloa Cartel News and Profile
Magaña's preference to handle the Sinaloa Cartel's operations from behind the scenes may be a strategy to deflect unwanted attention from Mexican authorities. The former legendary head of the cartel, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, was one of the most wanted criminals in the world before he was captured by the Mexican Marines in February. The Sinaloa Cartel nevertheless remains the dominant criminal organization in Mexico, with cells active in the United States, Colombia, and Guatemala, among other countries.