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Sinaloa Cartel

The Sinaloa Cartel, often described as the largest and most powerful drug trafficking organization in the Western Hemisphere, is an alliance of some of Mexico’s top capos. 

The coalition’s members operate in concert to protect themselves, relying on connections at the highest levels and corrupting portions of the federal police and military to maintain the upper hand against its rivals.

The state of Sinaloa has long been a center for contraband in Mexico, as well as a home for marijuana and poppy cultivation. Nearly all of the trafficking organizations in Mexico have their origins in the region. They were, in essence, a small group of farming families that lived in rural parts of the state. In the 1960s and 1970s, they moved from the contraband trade into drugs, particularly marijuana. One of the first to traffic marijuana in bulk was Pedro Aviles, who later brought his friend’s son, Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias “El Chapo,” into the business.

Guzman implemented an ambitious plan. This began with a meeting Guzman organized in Monterrey with, among others, Ismael Zambada, alias “El Mayo,” Arturo Beltran Leyva and Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, alias “El Azul.” The four men are more than trafficking partners, they are of the same blood: cousins by marriage, brothers in law, or otherwise connected via the small communities they come from, which is why their group is often referred to as the “alianza de sangre” (blood alliance).


Together they planned the death in 2004 of Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes, who was one of the heads of the Juarez Cartel. The group of traffickers, who authorities used to call the “Federation,” now operates in 17 Mexican States, numerous cities in the United States, and from Guatemala to Argentina. By some estimates, it operates in as many as 50 countries.

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Categories: The Cartels
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