The director of an NGO in Colombia has reported that Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel recently met with gangs in Medellin to offer them material support in exchange for allegiance, but it is unlikely the cartel is heavily involved with the city's street gangs.
In an interview with Semana magazine, Fernando Quijano, the director of the NGO Corporation for Peace and Development (Corpades), said that about two weeks ago emissaries from the Sinaloa Cartel met with Medellin gangs to offer them weapons and economic support in exchange for supporting Sinaloa's allies in the Oficina de Envigado and opposing the Urabeños criminal organization.
According to El Tiempo, there have also been reports of Mexicans and Salvadorans -- including an alleged Sinaloa Cartel emissary known as "El Tatuado" (The Tattooed) -- patrolling Medellin's comunas with local gangs. The newspaper stated that 60 weapons sourced from Mexico had also reportedly appeared recently in Medellin neighborhoods, known as "comunas."
The director of Colombia's anti-narcotics police confirmed that Mexican cartels conduct business in Colombia, but Medellin authorities said there was no evidence to suggest a meeting took place between Sinaloa Cartel emissaries and local gangs. They also dismissed the idea that cartel representatives were conducting patrols in Medellin neighborhoods.
InSight Crime Analysis
There is no doubt the Sinaloa Cartel does business in Colombia, but assertions that they are sending emissaries to meet and patrol with local gangs in Medellin should be met with skepticism. Although local gangs play an important role in Medellin's criminal underworld, they do not control transnational drug shipments and it is therefore unlikely that the Sinaloa Cartel would be heavily invested in these groups, or would rely on them as an ally to take on the Urabeños.
However, the Oficina de Envigado -- the transnational criminal organization that evolved out of Pablo Escobar's Medellin Cartel -- is a known partner of the Sinaloa Cartel, according to the US Treasury Department. Along with Medellin's importance as a hub for the transnational cocaine trade, this makes it logical the Mexican cartel would conduct business there.
SEE ALSO: Sinaloa Cartel News and Profile
The Sinaloa Cartel does appear to be sending emissaries to Colombia to buy cocaine directly from sources there. The Mexican cartel used to work with the criminal organization the Rastrojos and the Cifuentes Villa clan in Colombia, but both of these Colombian organizations have been severely weakened in recent years. Since then, the Sinaloans have made inroads with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), allegedly buying the guerrilla group's cocaine laboratories and drug trafficking franchises.