HomeNewsBriefOutside Pressure, Internal Dissent Roiling Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel
BRIEF

Outside Pressure, Internal Dissent Roiling Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel

EL CHAPO / 2 NOV 2016 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL EN

Recent reports point to disorder within the leadership of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, as pressure from security forces and competing organizations as well as internal rivalries appear to be furthering the crime group's fragmentation.

According to unnamed federal government sources cited by El Universal, a September 30 attack on security forces in the town of Culiacán in Sinaloa state was orchestrated by Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada García, one of the top leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Initial reports suggested that the attack, which left five soldiers dead, was intended to free Julio Óscar Ortiz Vega, alias "Kevin," a suspected cartel member being transported by the military. However, El Universal's sources say El Mayo orchestrated the attack to appear as though it were carried out by the sons of imprisoned Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, in order to focus the attention of security forces on El Chapo's faction of the crime group.

Indeed, officials early on blamed El Chapo's sons Iván and Alfredo Guzmán for the attack. But El Mayo's faction of the Sinaloa Cartel does not appear to have escaped scrutiny as a result.

On October 30 in Culiacán, federal security forces confronted several members of the armed wing of El Mayo's faction, known as Los Ántrax, El País reported. The alleged leader of the group, René Velázquez alias "El Phoenix," was killed during the incident along with two of his subordinates.

The military operation was seen as of particular importance as it indicated that the authorities could be closing in on El Mayo, who has generally maintained a much lower profile than his counterpart El Chapo.

InSight Crime Analysis

Authorities have not officially confirmed El Universal's version of the September 30 ambush. But it is not impossible that El Mayo could be moving against El Chapo's faction of the cartel given both the organization's current situation and its history of internal dissent.

Disagreements between El Mayo and El Chapo had been reported before the latter's recapture and incarceration in January of this year. As InSight Crime previously wrote, signs of rising tensions between the two had surfaced over whether to give the reins of power over to younger generations, amidst a string of arrests of prominent figures close to El Mayo. Although unconfirmed, El Chapo's prior arrest in 2014 may also have been facilitated by El Mayo's decision to cease protecting his associate.

SEE ALSO: Sinaloa Cartel News and Profile

In a more recent turn of events, El Chapo's looming extradition to the United States seems to have weakened the Sinaloa Cartel and prompted rival groups to go on the offensive. An attack targeting the house of El Chapo's mother in June may have resulted from an alliance between the Beltrán Leyva Organization and the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation. The latter has also reportedly joined with elements of the Tijuana Cartel in an attempt to usurp the Sinaloa Cartel's operations in Tijuana and in Baja California Sur.

All of these factors are likely to contribute to the fragmentation of the cartel, a pattern that has been seen in other Mexican crime groups in recent years.

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

MEXICO / 28 FEB 2013

A new report takes on Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s security policy, offering a detailed rundown of the objectives…

INFOGRAPHICS / 25 MAY 2012

The latest US indictment against Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman and other members of his Sinaloa Cartel is a mine of…

AYOTZINAPA / 2 MAY 2018

The gruesome killing of three students in the state of Jalisco has raised fresh questions about Mexico’s capacity to effectively…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…