Mexico busts more Sinaloa Cartel biggies —but still not El Chapo

Three men allegedly linked to Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, accused of conspiring to distribute a thousand kilograms of cocaine in the US and Europe, face trial in a federal court in Concord, New Hampshire, after being extradited from Spain. According to network Univisión, the accused were apprehended in the Spanish port of Algeciras in August 2012. One defendant, Manuel Jesús Gutiérrez Guzmán, has been identified as a cousin of Joaquin Guzman AKA “El Chapo”—the Sinaloa Cartel’s notorious fugitive kingpin. Another, Rafael Humberto Celaya Valenzuela, was a candidate for public office in San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora, with Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). (Latino PostProcesoProceso, Sept. 4)

The US Justice Department charges that Sinaloa Cartel has repeatedly tried to buy high-powered weaponry, including surface-to-air missiles and anti-tank weapons, suggesting that Mexico’s powerful syndicate is seeking a quantum leap in its paramilitary capacity. This is presumably a bid to out-gun the Zetas, a rival narco-paramilitary network that controls much of Mexico’s Gulf Coast. According to Mexico’s El Universal, in three of 25 cases detailed, spanning from 2007 to 2012, undercover agents with the US Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco (ATF) bureau managed to prevent Sinaloa Cartel operatives from obtaining weapons including Stinger missiles. The arms trafficking cells reported busted by the ATF operated out of Texas, Florida, Arizona, New Mexico and California. (InSight Crime, Aug. 7)

The whereabouts of Chapo Guzman—ostensibly Mexico’s most-wanted fugitive—remain the source of much speculation. In February, Guatemala’s Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez recanted his claim that Guzman had been killed in a clash with national police troops. Two Mexican traffickers were apparently killed in the clash at San Francisco village in remote Petén rainforest. Minister Lopez initially said that one of the dead “resembles El Chapo,” but later said it was a “misunderstanding” and that he could not confirm that police forces were involved in the incident. Local villagers told the press that a shoot-out began when a convoy of vehicles was attacked on a road through the jungle. (Las Vegas Guardian-Express, Feb. 22; LAT, Feb. 21)

Cross-post to Global Ganja Report and High Times

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