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

COCAINE / 27 APR 2023

As homicides rise in Costa Rica, local drug trafficking groups vie for control of the cocaine trade, while others the…


The killing of four young people in Paraguay’s border city of Pedro Juan Caballero has led back to an imprisoned…


The heavy regulation placed on chemical precursors used for meth and fentanyl has seen drug traffickers turn to pre-precursors instead.

About InSight Crime


InSight Crime Contributes Expertise Across the Board 

22 SEP 2023

This week InSight Crime investigators Sara García and María Fernanda Ramírez led a discussion of the challenges posed by Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s “Total Peace” plan within urban contexts. The…


InSight Crime Cited in New Colombia Drug Policy Plan

15 SEP 2023

InSight Crime’s work on emerging coca cultivation in Honduras, Guatemala, and Venezuela was cited in the Colombian government’s…


InSight Crime Discusses Honduran Women's Prison Investigation

8 SEP 2023

Investigators Victoria Dittmar and María Fernanda Ramírez discussed InSight Crime’s recent investigation of a massacre in Honduras’ only women’s prison in a Twitter Spaces event on…


Human Trafficking Investigation Published in Leading Mexican Newspaper

1 SEP 2023

Leading Mexican media outlet El Universal featured our most recent investigation, “The Geography of Human Trafficking on the US-Mexico Border,” on the front page of its August 30…


InSight Crime's Coverage of Ecuador Leads International Debate

25 AUG 2023

This week, Jeremy McDermott, co-director of InSight Crime, was interviewed by La Sexta, a Spanish television channel, about the situation of extreme violence and insecurity in Ecuador…