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Despite the arrest, extradition and now conviction of narco-lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, his Sinaloa cartel marches on and the proof is in huge, multi-drug shipments detected on the Mexico-US border in recent weeks.
Giant bags of fentanyl and plastic tubs of crystal meth, heroin and cocaine offer no sign that the cartel has been weakened, lost sway over its traditional territory in north western Mexico or seen its international reach curtailed by the loss of its leader.
Force - Mexican - Underworld - Security - Analyst
“It’s still a major, major force in the Mexican criminal underworld,” Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said.
The cartel still controls a worldwide web of contacts that can move Colombian cocaine to Cameroon and Mexican meth cooks to Malaysia.
Seaports - Drugs - Precursor - Chemicals - Globe
It also controls seaports to get drugs and precursor chemicals shipped in from around the globe; employs labs and chemists to process them; bribes corrupt cops to ensure the drugs can be moved to the border.
It has engineered multi-million-dollar tunnels to smuggle tons of marijuana and cocaine under the frontier and pays “mules” to ferry shipments in cars and lorries.
Armies - Hitmen - Enforcers - Extortion - Kidnapping
That does not even count the armies of hitmen and enforcers who moonlight in extortion and kidnapping, plus the money launderers, front corporations and political contacts.
There is also a world of professionals such as architects, jewellers and even musical groups, who provide entertainment and launder money.
Sinaloa - Mile - United - States - Distribution
Perhaps most important, Sinaloa continues to control what is referred to as the “last mile” in the United States, using its wholesale distribution network to get drugs into the hands of local gangs and street dealers.
“All 23 of our divisions have an investigation at least at the local level that ties back to the Sinaloa cartel,” said Will Glaspy, a US Drug Enforcement Administration agent in charge of the Houston division who has held posts along the US-Mexico border from California to Texas.
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