The capture and extradition of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the United States caused a significant change in the Mexican drug trafficking underworld. Presently in solitary confinement in a high security prison in Manhattan, El Chapo was, at one time, arguably the most powerful drug lord in Mexico, controlling numerous lucrative drug trafficking corridors and distribution networks in the United States. He apparently amassed approximately $14 billion over the years as a major narco kingpin.
In the period preceding his capture in 2014, the number of recorded homicides in Mexico stood at 15,723, which is far less than the numbers recorded last year: 29,168 murders. El Chapo was credited for influencing the level of violence in the country at the time, due to pacts made with numerous cartels, high ranking political figures, and authorities, which limited conflict.
According to a Business Insider interview with a cartel operative just after his escape from prison in 2015, the Mexican government saw him as a mitigating force in the narco trafficking scene, and so was willing to risk a little embarrassment in order to bring some sort of normalcy to the lives of its citizens.
The following was the statement in regards to this by the operative.
“When I first heard the news [about Guzman’s escape], I thought this is either a good thing or a bad thing. Either this is a sign of how far things in Mexico are out of control. Or this shows that the government is willing to risk a certain amount of international embarrassment in order to restore peace for Mexican people.”
Now that he is out of the picture, his cartel has had to evolve, with infighting and the capture of key members making it less formidable. External pressure from other drug trafficking organizations has also forced it to become more brutal, according to a report by the Boston Herald. Apparently it has become “savage” and now shows no mercy to its enemies. Beheadings are now commonplace.
And without an overall leader, it’s a virtual “free for all.” Some of the groups that the Sinaloa Cartel is in conflict with include the Los Zetas and The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). Areas where a lot of the violence is taking place include Colima, Michoacán, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, and Sinaloa.