Authorities in Mexico are saying that the brother of Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán has taken on a leadership position within the embattled criminal organization, a move that comes amid a growing number of attacks on the incarcerated drug lord's family.
Gen. Alfonso Duarte Múgica said that an investigation conducted by the Deputy Attorney General's Office for Special Investigations on Organized Crime ( Subprocuraduría Especializada en Investigación de Delincuencia Organizada- SEIDO) found that Aureliano Guzmán Loera, alias "El Guano," is in charge of Sinaloa Cartel activity in the mountain town of Badiraguato, Sinaloa, reported Excelsior. Badiraguato is the birthplace of El Guano and his older brother, El Chapo Guzmán, who was arguably the world's most wanted drug trafficker before his capture in January.
Investigations have also pointed to El Guano as being behind an ambush which left five soldiers dead on September 30, reported Excelsior. When the ambush first occurred, General Múgica said that Chapo's children, Ivan and Alfredo Guzman, could be behind the attack. They have since been ruled out as suspects, according to Excelsior.
The army has mobilized thousands of troops in Sinaloa in response to the ambush, with El Guano appearing to be their number one target, according to El País.
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While it remains unclear how prominent of a leadership role El Guano now has within the Sinaloa Cartel, there are reasons to be believe he has upped his involvement in cartel activity. El Chapo's arrest has left his family vulnerable in ways that were unimaginable when he was at the height of his powers.
Alleged operatives of the rival Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) attacked his mother's home in June, and members of the Jalisco Cartel reportedly kidnapped El Chapo's sons in August. According to acclaimed Mexican journalist Anabel Hernández, the BLO and Jalisco Cartels have entered into a pact to defeat the Sinaloa Cartel.
SEE ALSO: Sinaloa Cartel News and Profiles
The turmoil within the Guzmán family could be a microcosm of the broader uncertainty surrounding the Sinaloa Cartel's leadership structure. Ismael Zambada, alias "El Mayo," is widely considered to have taken the reins of the cartel following El Chapo's arrest, but even his status has become something of a question mark.
"El Mayo remains the principal leader of the [Sinaloa] federation and is the most important drug trafficker in Mexico, but right now it's not clear what his position is [within the cartel]," security expert Alejandro Hope told El País.