The man believed to have been chosen by drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to be his successor was arrested this morning in Mexico City.
Dámaso López Núñez, a lawyer who rose to become a senior official in Mexico’s prison administration system, was captured without incident in Nueva Anzures in the borough of Miguel Hidalgo.
López, known as “El Licenciado,” joined the Sinaloa Cartel after Guzmán’s escape from the Puente Grande Prison in Jalisco in 2001, which López is believed to have helped engineer by establishing a network of corrupt prison guards.
After Guzmán was re-arrested in 2014 he is believed to have passed his leadership responsibilities on to López, who has been identified by United States authorities as having “a significant role in international narcotics trafficking.”
He was indicted by U.S. prosecutors in 2013 on charges of trafficking and money laundering.
The crime research foundation InSight Crime suggested in March that López, 50, was looking for ways to fill the vacuum left by Guzmán’s capture, and was allegedly behind an unsuccessful attack in February on co-leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada and two of Guzman’s sons.
López’ son, meanwhile, is another up-and-coming member of the cartel. Dámaso López Serrano, known as “Mini Lic,” is following in his father’s footsteps, having been involved in trafficking from an early age and becoming a leader of the gang’s youth faction, Los Antrax.