HomeNewsBriefReport Highlights Complexity of Mexico’s Criminal Networks
BRIEF

Report Highlights Complexity of Mexico’s Criminal Networks

MEXICO / 11 DEC 2015 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

A new report reveals the tangled web of illicit networks operating in Mexico’s Baja California Sur state, a reflection of how the country’s criminal landscape has evolved from a few monolithic organizations to a diverse mix of sometimes competing cells.

Mexican authorities have identified four criminal groups operating in Baja California Sur following the end of a war among drug traffickers in the capital city of La Paz, investigative newspaper Zeta reported.

Luis Antonio Montoya Beltran, alias “Don Carlos,” leads the group that came to control La Paz. Known as the “Mayitos,” this criminal cell works for Sinaloa Cartel boss Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, and also controls the port of Cabo San Lucas, among other local towns.

Guadalupe Acosta Lopez, alias “El Javier,” leads a second group nicknamed the “Damasao,” which was reportedly expelled from La Paz by the Mayitos. This cell works for Sinaloa Cartel heavyweight Damaso Lopez Serrano, alias “El Mini Lic.”

The remaining two groups in Baja California Sur are “Los Lalitos” and “Los Luisillos,” which are run by Eduardo Villavicencio Arce, alias “El Lalo,” and Luis Alberto Echeverria Valdes, alias “El Luisillo,” respectively. These two rival groups operate from the municipality of Mulege, where they allegedly control the trafficking of methamphetamine, marijuana, and cocaine. Intelligence reports have not officially confirmed which criminal group these cells work for, but evidence suggests they may be affiliated with the Sinaloa Cartel.

There have also been indications the Knights Templar, Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG), and Beltran Leyva Organization have a presence in this zone as well.

Following the war in La Paz, Zeta details how these four groups underwent a complex process of reconfiguration and realignment, changing not only their modus operandi but also their areas of operations. According to Zeta, the Sinaloa Cartel and CJNG may have an alliance in La Paz and Los Cabos — two key points for drug shipments destined for the United States — with El Mayo allegedly forming a pact with CJNG leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho.”

InSight Crime Analysis

The dizzying array of names, towns, strategic alliances, and rivalries presented in the Zeta report is a testament to the complexity of Mexico’s modern-day criminal landscape. Sustained security crackdowns and the death or capture of many drug capos have resulted in numerous local criminal cells where there were once a handful of monolithic drug trafficking organizations. The ongoing fragmentation of Mexico’s underworld calls into question whether all-encompassing terms such as “the Sinaloa Cartel” are in fact an accurate descriptor of the country’s criminal syndicates. 

SEE ALSO: Sinaloa Cartel News and Profile

As the case of Baja California Sur demonstrates, such language oversimplifies and betrays the true nature of how Mexico’s criminal networks operate. A closer examination of the state reveals that, on the ground level, a disparate array of criminal groups, all of which ostensibly belong to the Sinaloa Cartel, are engaged in a constantly shifting dance of cooperation and conflict.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

MEXICO / 19 JUL 2012

A report by a French campaign group warns that torture and human rights violations committed by the Mexican security forces…

GULF CARTEL / 5 NOV 2012

Gun battles reportedly between rival gangs in the border city of Reynosa over the weekend left nine dead and suggest…

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 6 DEC 2010

A U.S. government cable, reprinted in full here, from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico and various Washington government…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…