Recapture of “El Chapo” makes no difference for the Sinaloa cartel: experts

Raúl Benítez, researcher and professor at UNAM, considers that El Chapo's recapture is "symbolic" and "political", because he humiliated the Mexican government and his rearrest vindicates the government's authority.

The cartel has been led for several years by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. (Photo: Archive/El Universal)
English 20/01/2016 13:40 Actualizada 13:45

By Silber Meza 

The Sinaloa Cartel can continue to operate with or without Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán if its financial structure is not attacked, and so far it has remained intact, as well as its operators and contacts, inside and outside the country, experts on national security and organized crime agreed.

The recapture of the drug kingpin has not affected the criminal organization, because the cartel has been led for several years by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. However, an internal dispute could emerge if Guzmán's sons: Iván Archivaldo and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, want to gain control of the drug cartel.

Raúl Benítez Manaut, researcher and professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico specialized in national security, defense and organized crime, considers that El Chapo's recapture is "symbolic" and "political", because he humiliated the Mexican government and his rearrest vindicates the government's authority, the image of the President [of the Republic] and the Navy, but it does not affect the cartel's criminal structure."

He added that the recapture of the drug trafficker will not have a real impact if “El Mayo” Zambada remains free and if the cartel's money laundering structures are not dismantled.

If authorities want to “hit” the cartel, they would have to act against “El Mayo” and Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, aka “El Mencho”.

Regarding El Chapo's sons, Iván Archivaldo and Jesús Alfredo, Benítez believes that they do not have the ability to lead the group.

"If they take the reins of the cartel it will go bankrupt because they are juniors. All Archivaldo does is make good use of Twitter and chase women, Ferraris and jewelry. These guys are not able to manage such a complex organization. El Mayo does, so surely there will be a rivalry between El Mayo and the children of El Chapo, but I don't think they will seek to become leaders,” Benítez explained. 

Gilberto Santa Rita, criminal law specialist and professor at the Iberoamerican University, says that the Sinaloa Cartel is so structured and entrenched that the capture of “El Chapo” makes no difference. He added that in order to fight the cartel it would be necessary to attack its funding system. "The real problem is money laundering," Santa Rita explained.

Gerardo Rodríguez, professor at the University of the Americas Puebla, recalled that the last time “El Chapo” was arrested there were no major changes in the cartel, because the operational and financial aspects have been handled by “El Mayo” and Juan José Esparragoza “El Azul”. Although there are rumors that the latter died, authorities are still searching him.

"They have shown that without 'El Chapo' they can continue to operate, with operators on the ground and contacts in America. I think it is too early to anticipate an internal rupture," Rodríguez said.

 

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