Authorities in Mexico have captured the head of the Sinaloa Cartel’s Central American operations, likely provoking even greater upheaval in Honduras’ criminal underworld.
On April 11, Mexican security forces captured Cesar Gastelum Serrano, alias “La Señora,” in the southeastern resort city of Cancun, reported The Associated Press.
Less than four months prior to his arrest, the US Treasury Department had designated Gastelum Serrano to its “kingpin” list for being one of the Sinaloa Cartel’s largest cocaine suppliers. According to the US Treasury, Gastelum Serrano used a “vast criminal network to lead a cocaine trafficking organization capable of moving tons of cocaine per week through Honduras and Guatemala to Mexico.”
According to Mexican authorities, Gastelum Serrano also worked with Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.
InSight Crime Analysis
US officials believe Gastelum Serrano was the most prolific drug trafficker in Central America, and his arrest will only increase the state of flux in Honduras’ criminal underworld. A significant number of Honduras’ major drug traffickers have been captured over the past year, and top leaders of the country’s two biggest drug transport groups — the Valles and the Cachiros — are now in US custody.
This may lead to increased drug-related violence in what is already one of the world’s deadliest countries. A string of killings in 2014 in San Pedro Sula was attributed to infighting between Sinaloa Cartel factions, and Gastelum Serrano’s capture will likely further weaken the cartel’s ability to maintain order among its operatives in Honduras.
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Gastelum Serrano’s arrest will also likely incite fear among some of Honduras’ elites, given the previously exposed close ties between drug traffickers and the country’s political establishment. At least four Honduran traffickers extradited to the United States have already signaled their willingness to offer authorities information on their accomplices in the hopes of receiving a reduced sentence or other benefits.
Finally, Gastelum Serrano’s capture indicates that Mexican authorities are likely cooperating with their Honduran counterparts in operations targeting high-profile drug traffickers. This would represent an important development, given the expanding influence of Mexican cartels in this Central American nation.