The aftermath of the shootout in Navolato, Sinaloa

Several media reports point to the recent extradition of Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán as the cause behind climbing violence in Mexico, but it may be premature to draw a direct line behind the cartel's troubles and a rise in homicide rates across the country.

On February 21, at least thirty pickup trucks rolled up to Navolato, Sinaloa. The ensuing shootout in the middle of the street was carried out by two clashing Sinaloa Cartel factions, one led by Guzmán's sons and the other by Dámaso López Núñez, alias "El Licenciado," according to Zeta Tijuana.

The violent incident is just the latest indication of an internal power struggle within the cartel following the extradition of El Chapo in January. Earlier in February, Guzmán's sons and cartel leader Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada were on the receiving end of an ambush that they said was ordered by El Licenciado. The extradited drug lord's sons are also disputing with their uncle, Aurelio Guzmán, alias "El Guano," for control over the criminal group, according to El Universal.

El Chapo's extradition has also reportedly prompted rival drug trafficking organizations to go on the offensive against a seemingly weakened Sinaloa Cartel in other parts of the country.

"The Jalisco Cartel - New Generation [CJNG] has launched attacks against the Sinaloa Cartel," professor Jiménez Ornelas of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) told Sin Embargo. "These groups have sustained confrontations especially in Colima, one of the key plazas for the control of drug trafficking in the Mexican Pacific."

Both BBC Mundo and Sin Embargo credited El Chapo's extradition and the subsequent cartel battles for the current "wave of violence" in Mexico, and Sinaloa in particular. Mexico's homicide tally in January was 30 percent higher than it was in January 2016, reported BBC Mundo. January was also one of the most violent months for Sinaloa in recent years, according to government homicide data (pdf). 

InSight Crime Analysis

The Sinaloa Cartel certainly appears to be experiencing some turmoil due to the fall of El Chapo and the internecine clashes it has seemingly produced. Yet it's probably too early to assert that the capo's extradition is responsible for elevated homicide rates nationwide. 

As InSight Crime has previously noted, clashes within the Sinaloa Cartel may contribute to high levels of insecurity in certain areas, but there has been evidence of both internal and external cartel disputes for years.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profile

Likewise, violence began climbing across Mexico long before Chapo's extradition. According to Animal Político, 25 of the country's 32 states witnessed an increase in homicides last year.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...