Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo

September 27, 2009

The Godfather of modern Mexican drug trafficking.


“We’re witnessing the extermination of the Juárez cartel,” said Alfredo Quijano, editor of the Norte de Ciudad Juárez newspaper and an authority on the war between the entrenched Juárez cartel and the rival Sinaloa cartel. “The Linea, or Juárez cartel, is down to its last line of defense.”

Sinaloa hit men, he said, are “killing people at will, hitting them like sitting ducks.”

August set a record for killings in Juárez, across the border from El Paso, with more than 300 deaths, raising the city’s total for the year to about 1,500.

Joaquin Guzman started this war, and he may win it. It makes sense. Chapo and the Sinaloa cartel are just too strong. Sinaloa controls most of the pacific coast, and thus the influx of cocaine and materials to make methamphetamine by sea from South America and Asia. The Juarez cartel, controlling only the city for sure, has a far less developed network for acquiring and distributing drugs, especially with the days of Amado Carrillo’s reign long past. Those connections have dried up, many of the old guard are in jail or dead. The Juarez cartel simply isn’t as strong and consolidated a force as it once was.

A U.S. investigator, speaking on condition of anonymity, generally agreed with Quijano’s assessment but cautioned: “We’re a ways off from declaring one group the winner. For now, I’d say the Sinaloa cartel clearly has the upper hand.”

The 18 people people killed in a drug rehab center a couple weeks ago were supposed to be all La Linea or Los Aztecas (street gang associated with La Linea) members trying to hide out because they are on the run. The gunmen, 5 of which were just arrested today, are all from Sinaloa.

It’s odd because Amado Carillo, who like most drug traffickers in Mexico was actually originally from Sinaloa, ran the Juarez cartel as an outsider, but it grew over two decades into a very local, very tight group. But now the city will be controlled by outsiders. It’s just nuts how far-reaching the Sinaloa empire is. They control everything, it might turn into the hegemony Chapo obviously dreams of after all.

The Transnational DTO

September 26, 2009

In Argentina, ephedrine imports rose from 5.5 tons in 2006 to 28.5 tons the following year, according to the DEA. Half the 1.2 tons of ephedrine Argentine authorities seized last year was bound for Mexico in a shipment of sugar.

Also last year, police took down a methamphetamine lab in Buenos Aires linked to the Mexican Sinaloa cartel. In all, 23 people — including nine Mexicans — were arrested.

Court papers say the cartel exploited Argentina’s lax financial oversight and plodding judiciary to set up shell companies to import ephedrine from India and China. The papers say employees then ground up the ephedrine, liquefied it and shipped it in wine bottles to Mexico.

In another case, three young entrepreneurs were found in a ditch, hands bound with plastic. Investigators say they were pumped with bullets in a gangland-style killing for crossing Mexican mobsters.

Two of them, Sebastian Forza and Damian Ferron, apparently tried to shortchange Mexicans who were buying in bulk from them.

They owned pharmacies and “adulterated the ephedrine, thinking they’d take advantage of the Mexicans’ stupidity,” said Tony Greco, who recently retired from the DEA after six years in Argentina.


September 26, 2009

Excellent interactive feature on drug trafficking from the AP.

Accurate in terms of smuggling routes and players involved.

September 25, 2009

Juarez at Night

September 24, 2009

Outskirts of Juarez

September 24, 2009

September 24, 2009

“Of course the cartels existed back then too,” he says, “but they were local and all they did was transport drugs into the US. There were killings too, but the criminals would carry them out very carefully, so that no one would notice. One of the big gang bosses was our butcher, and when we were kids, our parents always took us to his place to eat tripe tacos. And then one day we saw him on TV being led away by federal authorities and prosecuted as the head of the Juárez cartel.”

-Juarez Mayor Jose Ferriz

It’s a Different World

September 4, 2009

The Cartel as Corporation

September 4, 2009

“Don’t look at Chapo as a narcotics trafficker. He’s a diversified, multinational businessman,” says Edgardo Buscaglia, a U.S.-born academic who follows the drugs trade.

Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel is more than just a band of drug dealers. They’ve actually evolved into an international corporation with their hand in many other illicit trades, such as prostitution, human smuggling and even the production of bootleg CDs and DVDs. The proceeds of their illegal activity is also heavily invested in all kinds of licit business, from home construction to agriculture. Their money goes everywhere and creates ever more streams of revenue.