Monday, February 24, 2014



Comment: Of obvious interest to us locals. Left out is the destabilization of the Agua Prieta area, after the capture of Ines Coronel, and the ongoing body count in the Sonoyta area.

Tech note for those interested:
With the PRI once again in control, questioning or interrogation of suspects or prisoners has become much more "intensive". Also as with Pablo Escobar a few years ago, U.S. tech aid was a key factor in tracking down Guzman. The U.S. capabilities in that area are unmatched. Although the Columbian General on loan to Mexico went back home a few months ago, some of the tech types may have remained. U.S. tech aid was also key in disrupting the zetas. Hear that U.S. law enforcement was primarily a conduit for the communications intel. Still unknown, other than a perhaps more secure route north, is why Serafin Zambada picked Noglaes to enter with his wife. The other aspect is the Sinaloa cartel as the others is not a monolithic organization. Many, many sub-contractors, often family based, working in temporary alliances with / for the primary organizations. Or, as we continue to see especially west of Nogales, and north of the border, sometime against other groups.


After 'El Chapo' Guzman captured in Mexico, what's next for Sonora?
Posted: Saturday, February 22, 2014 1:19 pm |
Updated: 8:14 am, Mon Feb 24, 2014.
By Jonathan Clark
Nogales International

In late 2009 when the Mexican military killed Arturo Beltran Leyva, rival to Mexico's most powerful drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, it unleashed an unprecedented wave of bloodshed in Nogales, Sonora as gangsters loyal to Guzman moved in to retake smuggling routes and settle scores.

Now that Guzman has been captured in an early morning raid on a seaside condominium in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, could a similar situation occur?
"I would guess that the capture will generate significant jockeying for position in Sonora, especially in the border city of Nogales," said Julie Murphy Erfani, professor of political science at Arizona State University and an expert in Mexico's drug war.

Anthony Coulson, analyst with NTH Consulting and former assistant special agent in charge of the DEA's Tucson District Office, predicted "significant violence" along the entire U.S.-Mexico border over the next year.
"His arrest, and further dismantling of his Sinaloa Cartel means that those loyal to him will either fight or align themselves with the cartels that Chapo eliminated," he said.

The 56-year-old Guzman, whose cartel controls extensive drug-trafficking corridors into the United States, including those through Sonora, had been on the run since he sneaked out of a Mexican prison in a laundry cart in 2001. He and another suspect were taken alive by the Mexican Navy at 6:40 a.m. Saturday in the Pacific resort city without a single shot fired, Mexico's Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam said at a news conference.
U.S. authorities also collaborated in the takedown, Murillo Karam said, and Coulson emphasized the DEA's role, saying: "Decades of work have led to many kingpin arrests and deaths, in spite of, the overwhelming corruption in Mexico."

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Antonio Estrada called Guzman's arrest "tremendous news."
"It's kind of at the same level as Pablo Escobar," he said in reference to the Colombian drug lord who was tracked down and killed by authorities in 1994.
Still, he agreed that Guzman's detention could lead to problems in Sonora.
"Obviously it is a concern to see what the outcome or results are going to be, and see exactly where the dominoes are going to fall and who's going to try to take over," Estrada said. "It could be open the door, or floodgates, for other organizations. It's going to be interesting because it could get bloody."

Past precedent
Beltran Leyva, architect of a massive drug trafficking organization that he ran with his brothers, was a top Guzman ally until a violent split in early 2008. On Dec. 16, 2009, he was killed by the Mexican Navy during a raid on a home in the southern city of Cuernavaca.
Guzman's associates in Sonora then set to rid the state of Beltran Leyva's influence. In one especially violent incident, at least 21 people were killed in a shootout near Tubutama, about 30 miles southwest of Nogales, Sonora, when a crew of Guzman's hitmen confronted a group of Beltran Leyva thugs on July 1, 2010.

In the city of Nogales, Sonora, murders jumped from 130 in 2009 to 226 in 2010. After Guzman's retook control of local drug routes, the violence abated and the number of murders dropped below 50 in 2012 and 2013, according to Sonoran media reports.

In response to Guzman's arrest, Sonora State Police Chief Ernesto Munro Palacio told the Hermosillo daily El Imparcial that while his officers are "ready for any situation," he doesn't see any immediate danger. "We don't see in any way a threat to Sonora, we feel that Sonora is calm and will stay calm," he said.

Malcolm Beith, author of "The Last Narco: Inside the Hunt for El Chapo, the World's Most Wanted Drug Lord," said that violence would "almost certainly" erupt in contested areas like Sonora in the wake of Guzman's arrest.
"We've seen it before with other cartels – any time there's a leadership dispute, turf wars rage," he said.
In addition to external challenges, the Sinaloa cartel could also face internal problems, he said.
"The arrests and killings of several leading figures has definitely left it fractured, and without Chapo and his mythology holding it together, it could certainly implode," Beith said.

Figures taken down recently in the Sonora-Arizona border area include Gonzalo "El Macho Prieto" Inzunza, a top Sinaloa Cartel enforcer in Sonora, who was killed by Mexican authorities during a Dec. 18 raid in Puerto Peñasco. A month earlier, U.S. officials in Nogales arrested Serafin Zambada-Ortiz, son of Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada-Garcia, the reputed No. 2 leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, after he escorted his wife to Arizona for an immigration appointment.

The elder Zambada remains a fugitive and is seen as the likely successor to Guzman, though he could face internal challengers.
The Sinaloa Cartel extended its influence around the globe under Guzman's leadership, and Beith said its broad expansion now makes it more vulnerable to a collapse.

Operational effects
Coulson, the former DEA agent who once directed the U.S. government's drug enforcement strategy in Southern Arizona, predicted that Guzman's arrest would affect drug availability in the United States. Calling Guzman "the largest drug trafficker in the world, without dispute," he said:
"Meth and heroin availability will decrease, purity will decrease, and price will increase. This presents the U.S. with a great opportunity to strengthen and increase funding for treatment and prevention."

Asked what impact Guzman's arrest might have on drug trafficking through Santa Cruz County, George Silva, the county attorney, said it depends on how active Guzman was in the day-to-day operations of the cartel.
"It was rumored that Guzman's health was an issue and he may have taken a back seat from the cartel's operations," Silva said. "The more active he was the more significant the impact."
Another important factor will be how well prepared the Sinaloa Cartel was for the arrest or loss of Guzman, as well as who takes over the top spot in the organization, Silva said.

Murillo Karam, the Mexican attorney general, said that in addition to the arrest of Guzman on Saturday, authorities conducted a series of raids between Feb. 13 and 17 that uncovered seven Guzman safe houses connected by tunnels and sewer pipes. In one case, he said, reinforced steel doors helped keep police at bay just long enough for Guzman to escape through the tunnels.

In all, Murillo Karam said, 13 people were arrested in an operation that also resulted in the seizure of 97 rifles, 36 handguns, two grenade-launchers, a rocket-launcher, 43 vehicles and four ranches.

Any intelligence gathered in the operation could be crucial as well, Silva said.
"If the intel reveals names of cartel members, location of cartel cells, routes and methods used to smuggle drugs into the U.S. and money and weapons to Mexico, location of grows and stash houses, and how money and weapons flow within the organization, the possibility of completely disrupting or dismantling the Sinaloa Cartel increases tremendously," he said.

The Washington Post, citing an unnamed U.S. federal law enforcement official, reported that the earlier arrest of Serafin Zambada in Nogales had yielded crucial intelligence that allowed U.S. investigators "to penetrate the inner circle" of the cartel. That information also reportedly led to wiretaps that helped track down Guzman.

At his Saturday news conference at the Mexico City airport, Murillo Karam told reporters that investigators had established Guzman's identity with 100-percent certainty. At the same news conference, masked soldiers paraded their suspect past the media before boarding him onto a helicopter and flying him to a maximum-security prison.

In addition to charges in Mexico, Guzman faces at least seven federal indictments in the United States. Silva said he expects an expedited extradition.
"Neither Mexico nor the U.S. want to give Guzman an opportunity to escape," he said.


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