HomeNewsBriefSinaloa Cartel Leader ‘El Azul’ Dead? ‘El Mayo’ Now In Control?
BRIEF

Sinaloa Cartel Leader ‘El Azul’ Dead? ‘El Mayo’ Now In Control?

EL AZUL / 9 JUN 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

The Sinaloa Cartel has reportedly lost "El Azul," one of its two remaining leaders, as well as another key member running operations in northern Mexico, although so far the cartel  has maintained its cohesion in the face of similar losses. 

Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, alias "El Azul," allegedly died of a heart attack on June 7 while recovering from injuries sustained during a car accident, reported Riodoce.   El Azul is one of the Sinaloa cartel's remaining top leaders -- after the capture of Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias "El Chapo," in February -- the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been offering $5 million for his arrest since a 2004 indictment.  

On the day Esparragoza died, Mexican authorities arrested Juan Carlos Lopez, a key Sinaloa Cartel operative in the northern state of Chihuahua. Lopez had allegedly controlled the cartel's operations in this state since November 2011 and trafficked cocaine and synthetic drugs to the United States, reported Diario las Americas

InSight Crime Analysis

The arrest of "El Chapo" Guzman in February left Esparragoza and Ismael Zambada Garcia, alias "El Mayo," in charge of the organization. In spite of losing its top leader, however, the Sinaloa Cartel appears to have maintained internal cohesion. Although there have been reports of infighting among cartel operatives in Honduras, Guzman's capture did not unleash the type of internal battles that often results from a loss of leadership. 

SEE ALSO: Sinaloa Cartel News and Profile

Part of the reason for this unity may be the fact that the top leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel are linked by blood and marriage, which has likely made the group more resilient. Esparragoza was married to Guzman's sister-in-law, for example, and is supposedly godfather to one of Zambada's sons.  

A former police detective, Esparragoza also reportedly played a key role in brokering peace agreements between rival cartels and helped Guzman continue his business operations while he was imprisoned in Mexico. When Guzman escaped from prison in 2001, Esparragoza became one of the leaders of the organization. 

Mexican cartel leaders have been known to fake their own deaths in order to relieve pressure from security forces. A notorious example of this was the case of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias "El Chayo," of La Familia Michoacana, who was believed killed in a shoot out in 2010, but who turned up in a gunfight in March 2014, where he was, finally, killed.

SEE ALSO: El Azul profile

It remains to be seen whether Esparragoza's death and Lopez's arrest will spark any internal conflict, although judging from the lack of fall-out after Guzman's capture, the Sinaloa Cartel may well be able to weather this storm as well. 

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

FEATURED / 29 APR 2021

Methamphetamine use in Mexico has grown exponentially in recent years and now rivals marijuana as the drug most cited by…

HUMAN RIGHTS / 27 JUL 2021

Reports of migrants dying and disappearing in the US-Mexico borderlands are becoming increasingly common, propelled in part by a restrictive…

ECUADOR / 16 NOV 2021

After yet another prison massacre, Ecuadorean authorities have doubled down on Mexico’s two biggest cartels being behind gang warfare in…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…