HomeNewsQuestions Abound in Killing of Local Police Chief in Sinaloa, Mexico

Questions Abound in Killing of Local Police Chief in Sinaloa, Mexico


Little clarity has followed the brazen assassination of a local police chief in northern Mexico, as officials investigate who may have ordered the high-profile killing and why.

A team of armed civilians shot and killed Deputy Municipal Police Chief Juan Miguel Silva Alvarado as he patrolled the Tres Ríos district in the Sinaloa state capital of Culiacán late on August 6, according to statements from Carlos Alberto Hernández Leyva, deputy director of public security in the state.

Also known by the nickname “Boxer,” Silva Alvarado had been appointed to the post just hours prior to the attack. It’s unclear how the commando intercepted the three-car patrol, but they reportedly disarmed the other officers patrolling with Silva Alvarado. Hernández Leyva described the killing as a “direct attack” on the top cop, as he was the only one to be shot at.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

Following the murder, authorities located several of the stolen service weapons, as well as two other firearms they believe the gunmen used to carry out the crime, Sinaloa’s Secretary of Public Security Cristóbal Castañeda told the local press.

The killing of Silva Alvarado marked at least the third police officer to be killed in Sinaloa so far this year, according to data compiled by Causa en Común, a civil society organization that monitors police killings. The group recorded eight officers murdered there in 2021.

InSight Crime Analysis

For now, it’s not clear who orchestrated the killing of Silva Alvarado or what the motive was for carrying out such a brutal assassination.

On the surface, two things may point to the Sinaloa Cartel.

First, the geography of the attack. Culiacán has long been the bastion of the Sinaloa Cartel. Despite current infighting, a faction of the group known as the Chapitos that is run by several sons of the now-imprisoned Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo,” is believed to wield tremendous influence across the capital city. 

Second, the style of the attack. The fact that the armed commando involved was able to intercept a three-car patrol in a well-populated district of the state capital, identify their target and disarm the other officers, murder the police chief, and flee without being caught suggests a high-level of professionalism.

SEE ALSO: Sinaloa State Dominates Fentanyl and Meth Production in Mexico

That said, this isn’t their usual modus operandi and it’s not clear why the group would want to target Silva Alvarado on their home turf. In recent months, authorities have cracked down on synthetic drug production across the state, which the Sinaloa Cartel is heavily involved in. Through July 20 of this year, government data showed almost 90 percent of the 246 clandestine labs destroyed were located in Sinaloa. But these operations are largely carried out by the Mexican Army, not local police.

Still, Silva Alvarado is not the only high-ranking police official to be targeted recently in Sinaloa. In May 2021, an armed group ambushed and murdered State Police Chief Joel Ernesto Soto as he drove on the highway connecting Culiacán and Los Mochis. Just weeks earlier, he survived an armed attack in Mazatlán.

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.


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.


Related Content


A corruption investigation revealed earlier this week offers a rare chance for Mexico to confront long-rumored bribery between the highest…


The full threat posed to Mexico's biodiversity by both Mexican and Chinese organized crime networks has been revealed in a…

BRAZIL / 14 JUL 2021

Killings connected to a number of military police units in São Paulo fell to zero in June 2021 due to…

About InSight Crime


Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…


Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…


World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…


InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…


Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…