El Chapo might be in prison, but he is still commanding his very active drug cartel.
Mexico's most prolific drug lord of all time and former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera — aka El Chapo — was arrested for the third time, after escaping prison twice, on January 2016, and was finally extradited to the United States on January 2017 to face charges related to his drug cartel activity.
But even though El Chapo is in prison an awaiting trial, his drug cartel is still one of the largest and most feared in Mexico. In fact, it has been since his arrest that Sinaloa, the Mexican state where the cartel is mainly settled, has seen an increase in violence — usually attributed to clashes between rival gangs.
"We believe it has to do with the transport of drugs and the fight for terrain, for the areas that these groups are fighting over," Genaro Robles Casillas, the Sinaloa state public security secretary, said at a news conference.
Between Friday and Saturday, 19 gang members were killed in Sinaloa. Aljazeera reported that two men were killed Friday in a shooting at a department store near Mazatlan, Sinaloa. Police responded to the crime scene where they encountered the suspects trying to flee in four trucks.
Seventeen were killed by police during the encounter.
The news of this deadly confrontation comes just a few days after El Chapo's alleged mistress, Lucero Guadalupe Sánchez López — a former congresswoman for the state of Sinaloa — was arrested at the California border as she was trying to make her way from Tijuana to San Diego. She is now facing a mandatory ten-year sentence if convicted of conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine in the United States between 2013 and 2017.
She was also accused of facilitating communications between El Chapo and the rest of the cartel — which confirms the theory that he is still very much leading the cartel.
Sanchez Lopez was denied bail after attempting to escape shortly after being detained — something that would seem out of character for the wife of a veterinarian and mother of three, supporting the idea that she was romantically involved with El Chapo.
[Featured Image by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Getty Images]