Drug Cartels


During the 1990’s, after the capture of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo (a.k.a. “The Godfather”) in 1989, a division of the most powerful drug organizations took place in Mexico.  As mentioned, from his prison cell, Gallardo divided the most important organizations of Chihuahua, Sonora, Baja California and Sinaloa to his closest associates.  Consequently, his associates from Sinaloa became the leaders of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in Mexico (excluding the Gulf Cartel which was the only cartel not associated with Gallardo).  Currently, the different cartels are in a constant fight with each other for control of the border with the U.S., as whoever controls the border, controls the flow of drugs.  Additionally, the cartels fight within Mexico in order to control the transportation routes and the increasing local market.  The local cartels, aware of the strengths of their competitors, have formed alliances between them in order to become stronger and control more territory.  The principal cartels are:

  • The Gulf Cartel:  Founded by Juan Nepomuceno Guerra and led by Osiel Cardenas Guillén until his arrest in 2007.   It controls the eastern states along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Cartel de la Familia: They are located in the states of Michoacán and Morelia.  The founder and leader is Nazario Moreno (a.k.a. “el mas loco,” which means “the crazy”).  They are characterized as a “pseudo-evangelical” organization and justify torture and murder as “divine justice.”
  • The Cartel of Beltran Leyva:  Their operational base is in Sinaloa.  The Beltran Leyva brothers were part of the Gulf Cartel until their former boss, “El Chapo Guzman,” assassinated one of them.
  • Juarez Cartel:  Founded by Félix Gallardo, Caro Quintero, Fonseca Carrillo and Carrillo Fuentes.  Their operational base is Juarez City, which has now become the most violent in Mexico.
  • Sinaloa Cartel:  Founded by the “Guero Palma” and is currently being led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.  The organization operates within the states of Sinaloa, Durango, Sonora and Chihuahua.
  • Tijuana Cartel:  Founded and led by the Arrellano Félix brothers.
  • Los Zetas:  In 1999, the Gulf Cartel hired a group of corrupt former elite military soldiers known as “Los Zetas,” who began operations as a private army for the Gulf Cartel.  In 2010, Los Zetas made a deal with the Beltran Leyva brothers and became rivals of the Gulf Cartel.

BBC NEWS (available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-10681249).


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