HomeNewsBriefWhat Does Mini Lic's Not Guilty Plea Mean for Sinaloa Cartel?
BRIEF

What Does Mini Lic's Not Guilty Plea Mean for Sinaloa Cartel?

MEXICO / 8 AUG 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

The son of a former prominent leader of the Sinaloa Cartel has pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking and money laundering charges in the United States, raising questions about his motivations for doing so as the group continues to fragment.

On August 7, Damáso López Serrano, alias "Mini Lic," entered a not guilty plea to drug trafficking and money laundering charges in a US court in San Diego, the Associated Press reported. His court appearance came less than two weeks after Mini Lic surrendered to US authorities at the US-Mexico border in California, and just months after the arrest of his father, Dámaso López Núñez, alias "El Lic" or "el Licenciado," in Mexico City

Nahúm Abraham Sicairos Montalvo, alias "El Quinceañero," the pair's alleged financial operator, was also taken into custody by Mexican authorities at the end of July, Milenio reported.

In August of 2016, all three were indicted by US authorities in California on drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Licenciado and Mini Lic were also both indicted by US authorities in Virginia in December 2016 for conspiring to distribute drugs for importation.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

Years before his arrest in 2011, Licenciado was also the focus of another set of charges in Virginia for conspiring to distribute drugs for importation into the United States and commit money laundering. US authorities are seeking Licenciado's extradition, according to an August 7 Justice Department press release

InSight Crime Analysis 

Mini Lic's not guilty plea is not unusual. He is more than likely pleading innocent until he can get a deal worked out with US authorities for a reduced sentence in exchange for his cooperation. In the past, many other drug traffickers and business tycoons around the region have pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for cooperating with authorities. 

Mike Vigil, a retired Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, told InSight Crime that Mini Lic's not guilty plea is likely a temporary move until US authorities can see "what type of cooperation he can provide" before they enter into a plea agreement.

As the godson of former Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, Mini Lic likely knows very well the infrastructure of the cartel, trafficking routes, where the money flows and the inner workings of the group's operations. After El Chapo's arrest, Mini Lic and his father were battling for control over the organization's operations with El Chapo's sons and Ismael Zambada Garcia, alias "El Mayo."

SEE ALSO: Sinaloa Cartel News and Profile

It is for these reasons that Vigil suggests US authorities will try and use Mini Lic to testify against El Chapo, which may impact the deal he is able to broker with US authorities. 

"Mini Lic could provide a lot of knowledge in terms of Guzmán's activities because he witnessed a lot of that," Vigil told InSight Crime. "He would be a highly valuable witness."

Still, while some analysts think that Mini Lic's surrender was due to his father's likely negotiations with US authorities, others believe that it is still too early to know the logistics of these possible discussions and their potential consequences for the Sinaloa Cartel. 

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 / 30 OCT 2014

Mexico’s declining murder rate counts as a major accomplishment for President Enrique Peña Nieto, but the nation’s annual victimization…

AYOTZINAPA / 27 NOV 2018

Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto ends his six-year term amid a rising body count, allegations of cover-ups, and having failed…

JALISCO CARTEL / 6 MAY 2015

The CJNG is a criminal group that has evolved as a result of killings, captures and rifts in older cartels.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.