Monday, March 4, 2024

Sinaloa Cartel’s internal dispute extends into Sonora, Baja California

A dispute between competing cells of the Sinaloa Cartel has spread beyond the borders of the criminal organization’s home state, according to federal officials.

Unnamed officials cited by the newspaper Milenio said a dispute between Los Rusos and Los Chapitos has extended into states such as Sonora and Baja California.

Los Rusos, led by Jesús Alexander Sánchez Félix, is affiliated with the Sinaloa Cartel’s top leader, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

Los Chapitos is headed by the sons of former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in the United States in July 2019.

Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, known as El Chapito, and his brother Alfredo are notorious for acts of violence they have ordered or perpetrated. Ovidio Guzmán, El Ratón (The Mouse), is the least violent brother and maintains a low profile, Milenio said.

Sinaloa Cartel weapons found in Baja California
Weapons found at a crime scene in Baja California that authorities said belonged to Sinaloa Cartel members. Baja California Attorney General’s Office

The federal officials told the newspaper that Sánchez Félix, known as El Ruso (The Russian), led the “rescue” of Ovidio Guzmán when he was arrested in Culiacán in October 2019, triggering a vicious cartel response.

But Los Rusos and Los Chapitos are no longer on good terms. According to Milenio, the power Sánchez Félix wields within the cartel – he is considered El Mayo’s chief operator – angered Los Chapitos and caused a rupture between the two cells. Los Chapitos want a bigger share of the cartel’s criminal activities for themselves.

The federal officials told Milenio there is evidence that Zambada ordered Los Rusos to leave Sinaloa to avoid a turf war in that state, but they are now fighting Los Chapitos in Sonora and Baja California. The officials said Los Rusos have taken charge of the Sinaloa Cartel’s main criminal activities in the two border states, whereas people affiliated with El Chapo and Los Chapitos were formerly in control.

Meanwhile, Los Chapitos have started to lose the sympathy of Sinaloa residents due to acts of violence they have committed against cartel members and ordinary people, the federal sources said. Such violence didn’t occur when El Chapo was in charge, although the crime group did clash with rivals and government security forces, the officials told Milenio.

Murders of cartel members in Sinaloa in recent months were the result of a purge carried out by Los Chapitos, they also said.

The same cell has also recently clashed with an organization led by Fausto Isidro Meza, a one-time leader of the Beltrán-Leyva Organization known as El Chapo Isidro. Milenio said gunfights have occurred in the northern Sinaloa municipalities of Guasave and Sinaloa de Leyva.

In addition, Los Chapitos have clashed with another criminal group in Badiraguato, Sinaloa, the municipality where El Chapo was born. That dispute is over drug trafficking routes into Chihuahua, Milenio said.

With reports from Milenio

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