The Mexican military has claimed that the death of Sinaloa Cartel lieutenant Manuel Torres Felix, alias "El M-1" or "El Ondeado" is a major blow to the organization, but its true impact is dificult to measure.
On October 12, Mexico military personnel killed Torres in a clash on a road outside of Oso Viejo, Sinaloa. Rio Doce reports that soldiers intercepted and surrounded the Sinaloa Cartel leader’s vehicle, and that he was killed while trying to escape. Authorities seized $9,500 dollars and arrested three of Torres’ bodyguards in the operation.
According to a statement released by Mexico’s Defense Ministry (SEDENA), the death comes as a major blow to the internal structure of the Sinaloa Cartel. Torres was seen as the right hand man of Ismael Zambada Garcia, alias “El Mayo,” and SEDENA officials believe he played an important administrative role in the organization. His loss “significantly weakens the logistical and operations network” of the cartel, according to SEDENA.
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SEDENA’s statement aside, it is difficult to know the true impact that Torres’ death will have on the Sinaloa Cartel. Because of its immense size and influence, it is most likely that the loss of Torres will not set the cartel’s overall trafficking structures back.
The death does, however, send a signal to El Mayo and other Sinaloa Cartel leaders that the Mexican government is willing to strike at the organization, even in its home turf in Sinaloa. If Torres was as key to the Sinaloa Cartel’s operations as officials claim, then El Mayo is likely uneasy at the news of his death. It would be the second hit to his inner circle this year, after the arrest of his son’s alleged bodyguard in September.
At the same time, there is reason to doubt Torres’ importance to El Mayo. As Borderland Beat notes, narco-banners hung around the Sinaloa city of Culiacan claim that El Mayo purposefully set Torres up to be killed, along with other cartel operatives.