A brief history of the Sinaloa Cartel
Created by insightcrime on Oct 21, 2010
Last updated: 07/18/12 at 08:03 AM
Tags: Mexico Sinaloa Cartel Beltran Leyva Organization
The Sinaloa Cartel, already thought to be the largest supplier of methamphetamine to the US, may be shifting production southwards to Guatemala. This forms part of a larger trend, in which Mexican groups appear to be shifting many of their operations into Central America.
U.S. authorities dismantle a smuggling ring allegedly operated by the Sinaloa Cartel, which is suspected of trafficking some $2 billion of drugs from Mexico through the Arizona desert over the past five years.
Mexico's army arrests Noel Salgueiro Nevarez, alias "El Flaco," accused of heading the Gente Nueva, an armed wing of the Sinaloa Cartel. The Gente Nueva has been deployed by the Sinaloa Cartel to fight for control of Ciudad Juarez, on the U.S. border. Much of the violence that has afflicted the city in recent years is a result of battles between Gente Nueva and La Linea, which worked on behalf the Juarez Cartel.
The U.S. announces the arrest of several members of the Sinaloa Cartel during an operation in Utah, including a number of suspected bosses of the Mexican drug cartel. The operation was the culmination of an 18-month investigation, which resulted in the arrest of 30 people across Utah, California and Nevada.
U.S. authorities report breaking up a California criminal group, composed of Iraqi immigrants who sold drugs supplied by the Sinaloa Cartel.
Reports that Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias "El Chapo," lived in Argentina until March 2011 spark new speculation about the fugitive capo’s whereabouts. Guzman reportedly began living in the country in 2010. The fugitive only moved on in early 2011 after being alerted that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was pursuing an arrest order.
Honduran officials report that Sinaloa and Los Zetas are expanding their activities in the country and forming links with local bosses in four different provinces, fuelling concerns that organized crime is overwhelming the region.
Ecuador, a geographically strategic country and an increasingly important transit point for cocaine shipments, captures nine alleged Sinaloa Cartel operatives.
Colombian officials announce a joint international effort with U.S. officials to locate three middlemen allegedly working for Sinaloa leader Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias ‘El Chapo,’ in Colombia. The statement follows allegations by Colombia's chief of police that the Sinaloa Cartel is now working alongside the FARC in the illegal exploitation of coltan. The announcements raises significant concerns that the Sinaloa Cartel is continuing to expand its reach into South America.
Costa Rican security forces dismantle a suspected cell of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, arresting three suspects and seizing over 300 kilograms of cocaine. As Mexico’s cartels continue to spread their influence in the region, even Costa Rica - which has a reputation as one of the most stable countries in Central America - is becoming increasingly infiltrated by organized crime.
Diverse reports from police in Ecuador and Peru all speak of suspected Sinaloa Cartel presence in their territory. Edgardo Buscaglia, a noted crime analyst, tells the Mexican press that the Sinaloa Cartel is buying heroin and precursor chemicals in Afghanistan, in collaboration with Turkish and Indian criminal groups.
Police arrest Julio Enrique Ayala Muñoz, alias "Condor," believed to be the principal broker for cocaine shipments between the Colombian gang, the Rastrojos, and the Sinaloa cartel.
The Sinaloa Cartel reportedly maintains two armed cells at the border between Ecuador and Peru. Another report by Australian press highlights the cartel's increased presence in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne. These accounts are an indicator of the Sinaloa Cartel's increasingly global reach.
Colombian authorities release information on a computer seized from FARC commander Jose Benito Cabrera, alias 'Fabian Ramirez,' allegedly showing rebel links with the Sinaloa Cartel. Mexican drug trafficking organizations have sought out the FARC in order to purchase coca paste, the raw material for cocaine. The FARC has been linked to the Tijuana and Juarez Cartels as well.
Mexican police arrest alleged drug trafficker Edgar Valdez, alias La Barbie, a US citizen. His arrest comes weeks after security forces kill Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, a top member of the Sinaloa drug cartel and believed to be the right-hand man of Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, the country's most-wanted drug lord.
Mexican troops storm a safe house and kill Ignacio Coronel, alias 'Nacho,' who controlled the methamphetamine business for the Sinaloa Cartel from the state of Jalisco.
Sinaloa Cartel, the Familia Michoacana and the Gulf Cartel ally to fight the Zetas. The Zetas, meanwhile, strengthen their ties to what's left of the Beltrán Leyva Organization and possibly the Juárez Cartel. The Tijuana Cartel remains a wildcard.
Mexican Marines, with the army serving as backup, raid a posh apartment complex in Cuernavaca where Arturo Beltrán Leyva, alias 'El Jefe de Jefes,' is holed up with his posse. A shootout ensues and Beltrán Leyva is killed.
Two bitter enemies, the Beltrán Leyva Organization and the Zetas, ally to battle the Sinaloa Cartel. The two appear to well suited as their territories do not overlap. But, as time passes, it becomes clear that they are facing a stronger foe.
Gunman surprise Edgar Guzmán, as he comes from a Culiacán shopping mall, and riddles him and his entourage with bullets. The attack ends any hopes of a possible truce between the warring factions, and Sinaloa becomes one of the most violent states in Mexico.
Mexican authorities arrest Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, alias 'El Mochomo,' the youngest member of the Beltrán Leyva clan. Several weeks later, one of Guzmán's sons, Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, is released from prison. Arturo Beltrán Leyva blames his longtime ally, Guzmán, for the arrest of his younger brother and promises revenge. A war breaks out between the two organizations in Sinaloa and other parts of the country.
Juárez and Sinaloa Cartels battle for control of the country's most lucrative plaza, Ciudad Juárez. The killings make the city the most dangerous on the planet. Death toll to date is over 6,000.
A fellow inmate shoots and kills Arturo Guzmán Loera in the Cefereso #1 Maximum Security penitentiary. The war between the groups spreads.
Hitmen in the Sinaloa Cartel kill Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes, alias 'El Niño de Oro,' and his wife as they leave a movie in Ciudad Juárez. The death sparks a feud between the Juárez and the Sinaloa Cartels. Juárez Cartel associates Zambada and Esparragoza are forced to choose alliances. They choose Sinaloa, who moves into Juárez territory en masse in 2005, making it a battleground and one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
The Sinaloa Cartel moves to take Nuevo Laredo from the Gulf Cartel. The Gulf Cartel and its armed wing, the 'Zetas,' fight back and maintain control of this important plaza. Hundreds die.
Guzmán has meetings with Zambada, the Beltrán Leyva brothers, Esparragoza and Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, alias 'El Viceroy,' the head of the Juárez Cartel, to form a what authorities call a "Federation." Their common enemies, they decide, are the Gulf and the Tijuana Cartels. Their bond: family. Through marriage and otherwise, many were related, giving them their name: 'La Alianza de Sangre' ('The Blood Alliance').
Ramón Félix Arellano is shot and killed in Mazatlán by police. Félix Arellano allegedly went to the area to track and kill Ismael Zambada García. Félix Arellano's brother, Benjamín, is captured weeks later on March 8, 2002, in what appears to be an increasingly used tactic by the Sinaloa Cartel: provide information on your enemies for their capture.
Mexican authorities capture Guzmán's younger brother Arturo, alias 'El Pollo.' Arturo had run the operation while Joaquín was jailed.
On the day top authorities visit Puente Grande prison facilities to reinforce security, Guzmán gets in a laundry basket and is wheeled through three sections of the jail before getting into a car and driving into the Sierra mountains. Seventy prison officials are investigated following the embarrassing revelation. Following several failed attempts to recapture Guzmán, rumors swirl that he is protected by high level government officials.
Authorities capture Luis Palma Salazar, alias 'El Güero,' in Guadalajara. The Sinaloa faction hits its lowest moment, as its two highest ranking members are incarcerated. Palma would be extradited to the United States in 2007.
Guzmán spends eight years in jail where he attempts to hold his organization together. His younger brother Arturo Guzmán Loera, alias 'El Pollo,' runs the drugs business; Ismael Zambada, alias 'El Mayo,' and the Beltrán Leyva brothers help with the cash.
Guatemalan authorities capture Guzmán and deport him back to Mexico where he is sentenced to 20 years, nine months for murder, drugs and arms trafficking.
Guzmán barely escapes an attempt on his life at the airport in Guadalajara, Mexico. In the battle, a Mexican Cardinal Juan Jesús Posada Ocampo is killed.
Guzmán and his partner Héctor Luis Palma, alias 'El Güero,' send close to a dozen gunmen, dressed as state security personnel, into a Puerto Vallarta nightclub where Ramón and Benjamín Arellano Félix (photo) are partying. The massacre leaves nine Arellano Félix members dead but Benjamín and Ramón escape, reportedly via an air duct. Palma has his own vendetta with the Arellano Félix clan – they reportedly killed his wife and sent him her head in a box.
The Sinaloa and the Tijuana Cartels, led by Ramón and Benjamín Arellano Félix, stage multiple bloody, public battles that leave dozens, if not hundreds, dead over a 20 year period. These include repeated assassination attempts of the top leadership and, later, the arrests of the top members of the Tijuana Cartel.
Following the arrest of Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, Guzmán starts his own operation. Working closely with Héctor Luis Palma Salazar, alias 'El Güero,' Guzmán moves into the marijuana trade. His speciality: tunnels.
Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, alias 'El Padrino,' the head of the Guadalajara Cartel, employs Guzmán, eventually giving him power over the important Sinaloa - Sonora corridor. Félix Gallardo insures peace among the rival groups by creating a vast "federation," which includes other trafficking groups, law enforcement officials and politicians, all of who have a stake in keeping the system stable and lucrative. Others would attempt to replicate his model, without success.
In confusing circumstances, Mexican police shoot and kill Pedro Avilés Pérez. Avilés Pérez was considered a pioneer in smuggling large quantities of marijuana to the United States. One of his students was Guzmán Loera and Guzmán's three brothers.
The Mexican army launches what it calls "Operation Condor," a massive military assault on the Sinaloa region. The offensive, which includes mass arrests and extermination of drug crops, forces the Sinaloa group of traffickers to relocate to Guadalajara, Jalisco. The group would eventually be known as the Guadalajara Cartel, although they all hailed from Sinaloa.
Pedro Avilés Pérez, Ernesto Fonseca, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and Rafael Caro Quintero (photo) lead a group of Sinaloans traffickers who begin moving large quantities of marijuana and heroin from Sinaloa into the United States. Among them is Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias 'El Chapo,' an upstart heroin grower and transporter.