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.

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

HOMICIDES / 19 OCT 2022

Mothers searching for their missing loved ones in Mexico have been murdered, threatened, and ignored, despite government pledges to protect…

MARIJUANA / 6 DEC 2022

Today, most of the marijuana consumed in the United States is produced domestically, changing the game in the international drug…

HUMAN RIGHTS / 30 AUG 2023

In Tijuana, local pimps often form part of small, family-based human trafficking networks, which can also work with organized crime…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Contributes Expertise Across the Board 

22 SEP 2023

This week InSight Crime investigators Sara García and María Fernanda Ramírez led a discussion of the challenges posed by Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s “Total Peace” plan within urban contexts. The…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Cited in New Colombia Drug Policy Plan

15 SEP 2023

InSight Crime’s work on emerging coca cultivation in Honduras, Guatemala, and Venezuela was cited in the Colombian government’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Discusses Honduran Women's Prison Investigation

8 SEP 2023

Investigators Victoria Dittmar and María Fernanda Ramírez discussed InSight Crime’s recent investigation of a massacre in Honduras’ only women’s prison in a Twitter Spaces event on…

THE ORGANIZATION

Human Trafficking Investigation Published in Leading Mexican Newspaper

1 SEP 2023

Leading Mexican media outlet El Universal featured our most recent investigation, “The Geography of Human Trafficking on the US-Mexico Border,” on the front page of its August 30…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime's Coverage of Ecuador Leads International Debate

25 AUG 2023

This week, Jeremy McDermott, co-director of InSight Crime, was interviewed by La Sexta, a Spanish television channel, about the situation of extreme violence and insecurity in Ecuador…