Los Chapitos, fighting to control cartel. Los Chapitos, fighting for control.

10 cells engaged in Sinaloa Cartel fight

They operate in nine states and are feuding over control of the cartel

There are fears that violence in Sinaloa could get even worse as power struggles within the Sinaloa Cartel intensify.

At least 10 different cells of the powerful drug cartel are involved in internal disputes to try to increase their control within the organization, according to a report from the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR).

The consequent violence has contributed to the highest homicide numbers in the state for several years.

Cartel in-fighting intensified after the arrest of former boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán in 2016 and worsened further after his extradition to the United States.

The National Center for Planning, Analysis and Information for Combating Crime (Cenapi) — a division of the PGR — completed a report in May stating that the 10 cells are spread out over nine states.

Officials say the leadership of the different cells is at stake, precipitating the increase in violence.

There is also a fear that the wave of violence in Sinaloa could spread. Senate President Pablo Escudero Morales warned yesterday that the violence was going to get even worse as the fighting for control heats up.

The sons of “El Chapo,” known as “Los Chapitos” (the little Chapos) as well as Guzmán’s brother Aureliano Guzmán Loera, known as “El Guano,” are trying to increase their influence in the cartel’s operations.

So too is Dámaso López Serrano, known as the “Mini Lic”,  the son of Dámaso “El Licenciado” López Núñez, a former cartel leader believed to have been chosen by El Chapo to be his successor.  He was arrested in Mexico City in May.

The power struggle has triggered an internal war and led to an increase of executions within the group, whose absolute leader is Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

The PGR report also states that El Chapo’s sons and brother had broken agreements and tried to take over the cartel after El Chapo’s arrest and extradition, another factor in the increased violence.

Earlier this year an official from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said that Zambada’s role in mediating internal disputes would be fundamental because the younger generation of drug lords “is not willing to find solutions through negotiations and want to fight instead.”

Given the recent increase in violent clashes, Zambada’s success in that role is questionable.

The 10 cells referred to in the PGR report and the states where they operate are:

• Gente Nueva: Chihuahua and Sinaloa;

• Los Cabrera: Durango and Chihuahua;

• Cártel del Poniente (also known as La Laguna and Los Bardales): Durango and Coahuila;

• El Aquiles and El Tigre: Baja California;

• El 28: Baja California Sur;

• Los Salazar and Los Memos: Sonora;

• Los Artistas Asesinos and Los Mexicles: Chihuahua.

Some of the cells are headed by Zambada while others are controlled by “Los Chapitos” or “Mini Lic.”

A report by the newspaper Milenio adds four more cells to the ones mentioned by the PGR: Los Ántrax, Los Dámasos and Los Montana controlled by “Mini Lic” and Los Chimalis, to which “Los Chapitos” belong.

Confrontations between the opposing cells have become increasingly common.

A comparable power struggle took place between vying factions after the arrest of Alfredo Beltrán Leyva in 2008.

Other Beltrán Leyva brothers clashed with El Chapo, whom they accused of betrayal, and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel subsequently ended its association with the Sinaloa Cartel.

At least 30 deaths were attributed to organized crime violence in Sinaloa this past weekend with 19 criminal gang members killed in one confrontation with police on Friday night. More than 760 assassinations have been recorded in the state this year, as of early June.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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