The Sinaloa Cartel reportedly maintains two armed cells at the border between Ecuador and Peru, according to a district attorney general’s office. Another report by Australian press highlights the cartel’s increased presence in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne.
These accounts are another reminder of the Sinaloa Cartel’s increasingly global reach, as the organization looks to reach new markets and ensure access to drug crops.
According to La Republica, the Sinaloa Cartel’s Peruvian operations are directed from Guayaquil and Cariamanga in Ecuador. The region’s mid-level bosses are Colombians, and command two cells consisting of 40 to 60 people in the mountainous Ayabaca province, which straddles Ecuador and the Pacific ocean. One cell takes care of buying and processing coca at the border, and the second cell monitors the shipment of product from Peru onwards to the U.S. or Europe. The cartel’s operatives are reportedly well-equipped with M-16 and Galil rifles, grenade launchers, hand grenades and satellite equipment.
The newspaper adds that the Sinaloan operatives are believed to buy regular favors from local police and government officials. One lawmaker is believed to have tipped off the group after November 12, when police found a mega-laboratory for processing cocaine in rural Ayabaca. The lawmaker, Miguel Silva Burgos, allegedly received $5,000 a month for keeping the traffickers informed of police actions. The Sinaloan traffickers regularly move across the border between Peru and Ecuador, avoiding arrest, La Republica reports.
The Sydney Morning Herald, meanwhile, has published a report about the Sinaloa Cartel’s incursion into Australia, again demonstrating the cartel’s growing sphere of influence. In September 2010, the newspaper reported that the Sinaloa Cartel was smuggling about 500 kilos of cocaine into Australia every month. The street price of cocaine in Australia is two to three times higher than the U.S. or Europe, the newspaper notes, creating an especially profitable market.
Australia saw one of its biggest drug busts ever in June 2010, after police seized a 240 kilogram shipment of cocaine, believed to belong to the Sinaloans.