Conflict within the Sinaloa Cartel may be linked to a spike in violence in the group's home state

Internal struggles for power between factions of the Sinaloa Cartel may have led to an increase in violence in western Mexico, the latest example of internecine conflict that has plagued the crime group for years.

Two sons of captured Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán suffered injuries on February 4 after one of the kingpin's closest associates allegedly tried to assassinate them, El Universal reported. El Chapo was arrested in Mexico in January 2016 and extradited to the United States last month.

The recent ambush was reportedly carried out by Dámaso López, known as "Licenciado," who allegedly targeted two of El Chapo's sons as well as Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, another top leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.

The attack on El Chapo's family coincides with a recent surge in violence in the state of Sinaloa. Between February 5 and February 7, shootings between police forces and members of organized crime groups claimed the lives of 12 people.

The new wave of violence forced authorities to take extraordinary measures, and on February 8, 148 schools across Sinaloa were closed after new clashes involving organized crime groups broke out.

InSight Crime Analysis

Although the apparent attempted assassination of El Chapo's sons by Licenciado is a sign that feuds within the Sinaloa Cartel may be on the rise, internal struggles within the organization were occurring well before El Chapo's capture.

Fights between members and close allies of the Sinaloa Cartel have been occurring for several years. The state of Sinaloa has been home to feuds between and within cartels at least since 2011, and the area suffered from a large-scale forced displacement crisis as a result of the confrontations. Yet in other parts of the country, including Nayarit, Sonora, Durango and parts of Jalisco and Guerrero, these rivalries date back much further.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

Attacks against El Chapo's family appeared to increase after the leader's January 2016 capture. In July 2016, a group of armed men stormed into the house of the kingpin's mother, and ransacked the town where she lives. And in August 2016, two of El Chapo's sons were kidnapped and released shortly thereafter in circumstances that remain unclear.

Yet Guzmán's power began to wane long before his fall, and internal struggles have been a recurrent feature of the Sinaloa Cartel. What is new is that the level of violence caused by the recent fights among organized crime groups appears high, even by Sinaloa's standards. The 2015 Mexico Peace Index published by the Institute for Economics and Peace ranked Sinaloa as Mexico's third most violent state.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network. The BACRIM's roots lie in the demobilized paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...