HomeNewsBriefSon of Captured Sinaloa Cartel Leader Surrenders to US
BRIEF

Son of Captured Sinaloa Cartel Leader Surrenders to US

MEXICO / 31 JUL 2017 BY CAROLINE KURITZKES AND MIKE LASUSA EN

One of the leaders of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel has turned himself in to US authorities in what could be the latest sign of fragmentation in the group's upper echelons, a trend that has become increasingly evident since the extradition of legendary kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán earlier this year.

Dámaso López Serrano, alias "Mini Lic," reportedly surrendered to US authorities at the Calexico, California border crossing on July 26. He was transferred to the custody of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) the following day, El Diario reported.

The motivation for Mini Lic's surrender remains unclear. Some news outlets have reported that he may be facing drug charges in a California federal court, but US officials have not publicly commented on the case. A search of publicly available court records did not show Mini Lic as a defendant in any federal criminal proceedings.

Mexican media outlets report that Mini Lic has been involved in Sinaloa Cartel activities since a young age, at one point leading an armed youth faction of the group known as "Los Anthrax."

SEE ALSO: Sinaloa Cartel News and Profile

Mini Lic's arrest comes just a few months after the May 2017 capture of his father, Dámaso López Núñez, alias "El Licenciado," who was a close associate of El Chapo going back many years.

El Licenciado reportedly assumed leadership of El Chapo's faction of the Sinaloa Cartel while Guzmán was in prison between 2014 and 2015. After a sensational July 2015 jailbreak, El Chapo was recaptured in January 2016 in Mexico, and extradited to the United States at the beginning of this year.

One expert speculated that Mini Lic's surrender might be related to El Licenciado's likely negotiations with US prosecutors, suggesting that the father and son may be seeking to broker a "package" plea agreement, in which they would give up information on other Sinaloa Cartel operatives in exchange for judicial leniency in their own cases.

"If the elder Dámaso [López Núñez] is negotiating his extradition with the Americans, he negotiated a package: himself and his son. And he is holding up his part of the bargain," security analyst Samuel González Ruiz told EFE.

InSight Crime Analysis

Since El Chapo's extradition, siginificant rifts have appeared in the Sinaloa Cartel's top leadership. Some observers have posited that a conflict has broken out between Mini Lic and his father on one side and El Chapo's sons, Iván and Alfredo, on the other. According to this theory, Mini Lic's surrender could be a trick out of El Chapo's own playbook, as the notorious kingpin was known for enacting revenge by providing authorities with information about his rivals.

The Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO), for instance, waged an intense turf war against the Sinaloa Cartel based on suspicions that El Chapo had informed on their leader, Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, who was arrested in 2008.

SEE ALSO: Profile of El Licenciado

Others, however, have cast doubt about the public's ability to know with any certainty what is happening inside the ranks of one of Mexico's most legendary crime groups. Alejandro Hope, a Mexican security analyst and former intelligence official, wrote a column for the newspaper El Universal in which he argued that while El Licenciado and Mini Lic are likely cooperating with US authorities, it is too early to know the exact parameters of those discussions or their potential ramifications for Mexico's organized crime scene.

"Making categorical judgements in these matters with only pieces of information is very dangerous," Hope warned.

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

EL MENCHO / 18 NOV 2021

The arrest of the wife of CJNG boss El Mencho is being interpreted as a win against the cartel and…

JALISCO CARTEL / 17 DEC 2021

The United States and Mexico have officially entered a new phase of their partnership to tackle transnational organized crime groups…

COCAINE / 8 JUL 2021

A US investigation has shed light on the alleged participation of Guatemalan soldiers in a cocaine smuggling network linked to…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…