Bodyguard of Sinaloa Cartel Leader’s Son Arrested

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Mexican authorities have arrested an alleged bodyguard of the son of Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, one of the few captures this year to hit the inner circle of the elusive drug trafficker.

State police arrested Juan Angel Santos Lara in Baja California, reported Milenio. Santos Lara allegedly served as a bodyguard for El Mayo’s son, Vicente Zambada Niebla, alias “El Mayito,” who was extradited to the United States in 2010. At the time of Santos Lara’s arrest, authorities found firearms, a large amount of cash, ammunition, and a substance that appeared to be cocaine in his vehicle.

Santos Lara has twice escaped from custody. First, he broke out of detention in 2008 after being arrested on charges of weapons possession. He was captured again in November 2011, but escaped from a prison in Sinaloa the following January by bribing a prison guard.

As well as his work as a bodyguard for El Mayo’s son and his alleged involvement in running marijuana farms for the cartel, Santos Lara has been linked to a murder in Sinaloa state. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Given Santos Lara’s previous escapes from prison, the test for Mexican authorities will be whether they can keep him behind bars this time. According to Mexico’s National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH), 521 inmates have escaped from prison in 14 separate incidents since 2010. Santos Lara’s apparent ability to buy his way out also speaks to the Sinaloa Cartel’s  power to corrupt: leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman famously escaped from jail in a laundry cart in 2001.  

Despite Santos Lara’s arrest, the Mexican government does not appear to be any closer to capturing El Mayo or his fellow Sinaloa Cartel leaders. El Mayo, Chapo Guzman, and Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, alias “El Azul,” have all been active in Mexico’s drug trade since the 1980s. While Colombia recently arrested powerful drug trafficker Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, whom President Juan Manuel Santos called the country’s “last capo,” Mexico has had a more difficult time rounding up the “old school” traffickers running the Sinaloa Cartel.

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