The Sinaloa Cartel (Pacific Cartel, Guzmán-Loera Cartel) (Spanish: Cártel de Sinaloa) is the most powerful drug cartel in Mexico and considered by the United States Intelligence Community as “the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world.” The Sinaloa Cartel is based in the city of Culiacán, Sinaloa, but also operates in the Mexican states of Baja California, Sinaloa, Durango, Sonora and Chihuahua.The cartel is also known as the Guzmán-Loera Organization and the Pacific Cartel, the latter due to the coast of Mexico from which it originated; another name is the Federation. The ‘Federation’ was partially splintered when the Beltrán-Leyva brothers broke apart from the Sinaloa Cartel.
The Sinaloa Cartel is associated with the label “Golden Triangle” as the regions of Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua in which they operate the most form a ‘triangle’ when their capital cities are looked at on a map. The region is a major producer of Mexican poppy and marijuana. According to the U.S. Attorney General, the Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for importing into the United States and distributing nearly 200 tons of cocaine and large amounts of heroin between 1990 and 2008.[
The Mexican government is once more on the defensive after the latest reports that accuse police and other officials of widespread corruption. Meanwhile, the State Department communications quoted in the reports are creating another embarrassing incident for the United States.
The communications refer to an Oct. 26, 2009 meeting between U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Mexican Army General Guillermo Galvan. Galvan was seeking U.S. cooperation to strengthen the Mexican military’s efforts against drug cartels.
In a message to the State Department, then U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual talked about the “distrust” Blair had for Mexican government officials. Joint efforts between the U.S. and Mexican governments against drug cartels were a “challenge” because “corrupt officials” would leak information to criminal groups, thereby allowing them to evade capture, the message said.
Improving the performance of local and state police would require a long process, according to the message that quoted Blair. Galvan and Blair also discussed problems in catching accused drug cartel leader Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman Loera, leader of the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel. The cartel has been blamed for mass murders as well as payoffs and intimidation of government officials.
Guzman was known to have an extensive network of at least 300 informants who notified him of any attempts to capture him, making an arrest difficult, Galvan reportedly said.
If they could track him down, the Mexican Army planned to surround Guzman’s position with troops and tighten the circle on him before arresting or killing him, Galvan reportedly said.
Guzman remains Mexico’s most wanted drug cartel leader. A recent Univision television network report said Guzman is expanding his cocaine operations in Bolivia, which the Bolivian government emphatically denies.
During the Oct. 26, 2009 meeting, Blair asked how much longer the Mexican military would chase after criminal gangs before turning the law enforcement operations over to civilian authorities.
Galvan predicted a military engagement of seven to 10 years, but said the time frame could be shortened with U.S. intelligence agency assistance. He wanted U.S. intelligence sources to monitor drug cartel activity and pass on the information to the Mexican Army.
The Mexican military has been fighting drug cartels under the special authority of Article 29 of the Mexican Constitution. It grants an “exception” for the military to take over civilian police law enforcement in emergencies, such as the current war against drug cartels.
The war has claimed more than 35,000 lives since Mexican President Felipe Calderon ordered troops to assist police in December 2006.
A second 2009 message, or “cable,” from the U.S. consulate in Monterrey describes an embarrassing incident in which a Mexican legislator’s car was stolen while he was in the northern state of Nuevo Leon.
Before police could recover the vehicle, they had to ask permission from leaders of Los Zetas drug cartel.
The cable uses the stolen car incident to illustrate that only the Mexican Army and federal police are effective against drug cartels.
Local police are commonly infiltrated or intimidated by the drug gangs, according to the State Department cables. One of the cables estimated that half the police in Nuevo Leon had some kind of affiliation with drug cartels.
- Gang with ties to drug lord suspected in killings (sfgate.com)
- Colombia seizes assets linked to Mexican kingpin (sfgate.com)
- Mexico City: ‘Global’ Sinaloa Drug Cartel Expands Methamphetamine Production On Massive Scale (lostchildreninthewilderness.wordpress.com)