Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Why there won't be another Chapo--The end of the big cartels

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat by Steve Dudley for Foreign Affairs


Earlier this month, a federal jury in New York convicted Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, the former kingpin of Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa Cartel, on ten charges related to drug trafficking. El Chapo was stunned, his wife cried, and U.S. authorities crowed.

For some, the verdict offered finality: “The reign of Joaquín Guzmán Loera’s crime and violence has come to an end,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

For others, vindication: “There are those who say the war on drugs is not worth fighting,” said Richard P. Donoghue, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “Those people are wrong.”

Some spoke of heroism: “Today’s verdict,” said U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, “sends an unmistakable message to transnational criminals: You cannot hide, you are not beyond our reach, and we will find you and bring you to face justice.”

Others expressed a sense of relief: “As was clear to the jury, Guzmán Loera’s massive, multibillion-dollar criminal enterprise was responsible for flooding the streets of the United States with hundreds of tons of cocaine as well as enormous quantities of other dangerous drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine,” according to acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

These officials all offered variations on a popular drug war narrative: an all-controlling kingpin builds a criminal empire, leaving death and destruction in his wake. Law enforcement tracks, arrests, and incarcerates him—and, in the case of El Chapo, rearrests and reincarcerates him after he escapes—and then convicts him. The public embraces this story, watching it over and over, first as news on CNN and then as fiction on Netflix. It is simple and understandable, and it helps us sleep at night. It is also false.

The obsession with El Chapo and his exploits, as well as those of his associates and his cartel, reflects an outdated view of the drug trade. The idea that this trade is dominated by vertically integrated organizations, each run by a single mastermind such as El Chapo, is a myth—and a dangerous one, in that it may undermine international efforts to slow drug trafficking and combat the violence of criminal groups such as the Sinaloa Cartel.

THE NEW DRUG TRADE

Take the case of fentanyl. The same day that El Chapo was sentenced, anywhere between 60 and 100 people in the United States likely died from overdosing on fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid made in China and often trafficked through Mexico by the country’s myriad criminal organizations. In 2018, fentanyl accounted for roughly 30,000 overdoses in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fentanyl was barely a blip in the U.S. drug market in 2013. Today, it is replacing heroin. Officials from the U.S. Department of Justice told me recently that there are two major criminal groups—El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG)—behind the surge in fentanyl. But a deeper look reveals a wide variety of American, Chinese, Dominican, Indian, and Mexican groups supplying the U.S. market, some that conduct almost all of their business online from within the United States. El Chapo and his vaunted Sinaloa Cartel are not responsible for this transformation. And as my organization, InSight Crime, showed in a recent report on Mexico’s role in the fentanyl trade, published with support from the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, removing cartels and their kingpins will do little to slow this transformation.

The reason is that the rise of synthetic drugs is changing the structure of the illegal drug market. Mexican cartels were built for trafficking drugs such as cocaine and heroin. These drugs, which are labor-intensive to produce and most profitable when trafficked at scale, tend to favor the emergence of large, centralized criminal syndicates that can coordinate vast transnational networks of production and distribution. 

Synthetics, by contrast, can be cheaply produced from precursor chemicals and are potent enough to be profitable even when produced on a small scale: one fentanyl analogue, carfentanil, is roughly 100 times stronger than fentanyl, which is itself some 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. In our report, we liken the synthetic drug trade to the microchip industry, in which continued innovation allows for ever greater potency to be fit in ever smaller packages.

Because fentanyl is so potent, it can move in small consignments. A large part of the fentanyl produced in China is sent directly to the United States through the mail. Even many precursor chemicals, also produced in China, go directly to the United States. According to numerous U.S. officials and health experts we consulted, this direct-from-China trade may account for the bulk of the fentanyl in the U.S. market. Once the drugs reach the United States, small traders peddle the drugs over the dark web, encrypted messaging services, or social media, cutting out the cartels entirely.

Some fentanyl and fentanyl precursors do move through Mexico. But they go through many hands on their way to market. Mexico’s two main Pacific ports, Lázaro Cárdenas and Manzanillo, service several masters, including various criminal groups that have deep contacts in Asia from their time producing other synthetic drugs, particularly methamphetamine. The precursors make their way to laboratories in Sinaloa but also Mexico City and points north, such as Baja California, where they are used to make fentanyl that is then trafficked in bulk across the U.S. border. There is also a possibility that some of the precursors may enter the United States, then cross to Mexico for production on the Mexican side of the border, as one recent case illustrated.  

There are, quite simply, a variety of organizations at work. An increasing amount of the fentanyl coming via Mexico, for example, is camouflaged as oxycodone and other prescription pills, since the sellers do not want the users to know they are taking the deadliest drug on the market. And although the global market for counterfeit pharmaceuticals is huge, it has never been the purview of groups such as the Sinaloa Cartel—it is more likely the domain of smaller organizations in border areas such as Tijuana, which service the wildly overpriced U.S. market. 

Fentanyl, with its potency and its relative ease of manufacture and transport, offers an extreme example of the forces atomizing the drug trade, but markets for legacy drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine have also fragmented, in part because of the capture and prosecution of people such as El Chapo. But although security forces in the United States, Mexico, and elsewhere have played a role in this atomization of the drug trade, arresting capos is different from dismantling criminal organizations.

KINGPIN WITHOUT A CROWN

Large criminal groups such as the Sinaloa Cartel and the CJNG are still powerful, and they still serve an important purpose in the drug trade. They assume a good portion of the risk of transporting drugs in bulk and selling them wholesale to smaller networks engaged in street-level distribution. In the case of fentanyl, for instance, Mexican cartels sell to Dominican groups that control much of the fentanyl and heroin market in the United States. Taking them down should be part of any counternarcotics strategy.

But the days of the monolithic, hegemonic criminal groups with all-powerful leaders are over. For U.S. policymakers, it may be overkill to direct the resources of six federal law enforcement agencies toward dismantling these groups, especially in the era of synthetic drugs.

Dealing with illicit drugs requires a holistic approach dedicated to understanding the complexity of drug use and its ripple effects on everything from the rule of law to democracy. During the El Chapo trial, for instance, prosecutors and the judge spent significant energy suppressing testimony about the systemic failures of Mexican society—grinding poverty, endemic corruption, a fraudulent democracy—that enable large criminal groups to flourish and even penetrate the government institutions set up to combat them. Although some allegations, such as the claim that former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto took a $100 million bribe from El Chapo, bordered on the absurd, the excluded testimony highlighted problems in Mexican society that stretch far beyond the cartels and will certainly outlive them.

El Chapo was a powerful and wealthy drug lord, and bringing him down was an undeniably important step in curtailing the reach of Mexico’s cartels. But burnishing his status as a kingpin perpetuates a false narrative that destroying him—and those like him—will solve the problems posed by the drug trade. In fact, convicting one drug lord is more akin to plucking a single bee from the hive.  

50 comments:

  1. Such BS article. Mencho is already bigger than chapo. Chapo could never take a damn plaza.. mencho is in onother level, gevwill get caught like most because like chapo Ave Escobar he wants to control. But nevertheless, hes a bigger capo than chapo.

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    1. hell yeah! mencho #1 world drug cartel boss

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    2. lmfao mencho ni le yega alos huevos al chapo

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    3. AND the dude 'forgets' to remind us that after 30 of WoD we have more, stronger and cheaper drugs than ever on our streets, parks, homes and schools.

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    4. You must be new to the drug war. Chapo took plenty of plazas. Also mencho is currently losing his plazas that he got under the cds banner. Mencho is getting his ass kicked in his own state. Cmon now.

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    5. @ 9:39 Other than Tijuana, which was 'orphaned' due to AFO imploding after the arrest of Benjamin, Chapo never managed to take plaza in his life. Every time the CDS tried to infiltrate foreign cartel territory they got smacked down.

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    6. Mencho will go down in the end if not by the government then by a rival. He has a 100 mile long list of enemies who want him six feet under or at the very least not in the business anymore.

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    7. Facts:Chapo became the co-head of the sinaloa cartel in the late 80s when miguel felix divided up the cartels, he was in power for almost 30 years. Mencho was chichincle to nacho coronel, 10 years, simple math, someone is smoking if they think mencho is bigger

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  2. There are still big living legends active in sinaloa maybe not as famous as chapo but they have the same money and power also a lot of people working for them from Europe to sinaloa u people have never heard of "pedro loaiza" "panio beltran" "hector roman" there are many more big dogs out there that have been in the game longer than chapo and still keep moving tons evry month CRA Will keep making money for many more decades it's a legacy of generations from many family's this sounds like bullshit but its true like it or not the dea puts list out there hunting down anvendaños and the cazares family together with chapos but they are just at the tip of the iceberg and will never finish

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    1. Sinaloa is another level . There are so many people on next level . Don Lupe Tapia is a bigger boss than what people think he controls it all Mayo left him the keys to the lambo. Saludos pa taquichamona !

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    2. On point man!
      Like the Quinteros have invested in legitimate business all through out Mexico.

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    3. Not going to mention any names but that also happens in the rio grande valley, generation after generation!

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    4. ya, neither the DEA has ever heard of those guys so that means that they're not that big as you think...we are not talking about fame here but facts.

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  3. Hahaha we can see already, All these other mini cartels/wings that are branching off are trying to make a name for themselves they even carry funny aliases hahahaa

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  4. There won’t be another Chapo because “Chapo” (as he was represented in the media) was never a real thing. Hard to replicate what never existed.

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    1. I agree and disagree: sure Chapo was an image made up by big brother in order to put a face on OUR enemy.

      Chapo himself is a campesino who cant read and write and had just a nominal role in a big machine which is fueled by corruption and poverty.

      BUT just as Chapo (and e.g. Osama bin Laden) where enemy images created by big brother to allow our elite to execute policies of social control based on lies, they will create many many more of these fake 'bad hombres' to fool us into believing that they are fighting for us whilst fucking us from behind!

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  5. el mencho and mayo are the last capos there both 50+ years of age aswell still active , most these guys wont make to 30 nevermind 50 these days

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  6. La Virgen, La llorona, el chupacabra, El Chapo

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  7. Big Pharma is the Big Cartel.

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    1. And the reason for this drug war.

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    2. And they are sanctioned by the mother of all cartels: the government!

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    3. Purdue Pharma paying 270 million dollars to start settling claims and lawsuits for their part in opioid crisis.
      -270 billion dollars in profits will not be affected.
      --Opioid business and precursors have been shafted to the street gangs and imported from China and Mexico, for a while now...
      Don't worry.

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    4. 270 million just in Oklahoma...

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  8. C”MON now this ain’t chapo fck outta here with that shit.

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  9. El chapo will die in prison

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  10. This author must have forgot El Mayo is still breathing.

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  11. Arriba el Cartel de Sinaloa.
    Gente Nueva Special Forces will always protect las plazas del Senor Chapo Guzman. Ivan and Alfredito will continue to rule the empire his dad built.

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  12. The guy who knows nothing kept talking about those Chinese guys and CDS. Makes me wonder about him and his comments

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  13. The war on drugs is and will never be winnable. As for the end of kingpins there are still many (Government condoned and assisted).
    Fentanyl,cocaine,heroin ect will always have a presence in our daily lives. It's up to those to educate oneself not to consume.

    As for fentanyl, China has yet to ban the drug in their country. What better way than to flood a poison to another country where divisions are being displayed. Moreover, when Americans are killing themselves in many aspects (mentality, physically, educationally,economically and spiritually).
    What better way to harm one's global competitors than from within.
    Realistic; employers are having a difficult time hiring new employees due to drug usage in America. Its epidemic proportions out here.

    Remember China doesn't have a problem; Americans do.China's president clearly stated this fact.

    It's time to smell the coffee fellas.

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    1. 6:21 the sackler family and their favorite pill maker advertised the good news, foreign consumption of Oxy and other opiates they manufacture is more than making up for the loss of the US market, that means China is getting worked on too, and La Mencha and Co. will never be out of business.
      No word if the Russians are helping, but speed has been widely used by the melitary, even Hitler and the Nazis helped themselves some for the Kraut Army of Nazis, come think of it they invented speed, and aspirin to smoke, while in Bolivia Klaus Barbie was their employee promoting cocaine to replace the loss of Vietnamese Heroin after uncle Ho kicked the US on the nuts.

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    2. Absolutely correct. The moral and social decay that drives the massive drug usage in western societies is at the heart of the issue. The crime and criminals are the result, not the cause.

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    3. 6:21 i'd recommend you wake up and smell the horse's ass,
      It is more effective.

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    4. @6:21: Good post... I agree with your points.
      About employers having problems finding good employees. Years ago, I knew a sharp Columbiano who knew much about drugs and addictions to them. He got a job in the Phoenix area as a consultant to big corporations wanting to keep their operations free of drug addicts. He lectured and offered methods for spotting problem people and for not hiring them.
      He was very happy to have found an occupation that used his knowledge for good.
      Mexico-Watcher

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    5. Drug addicts are better workers and have no pretenses or expect benefits, pay rises, union rights, 401k or shit, no PTSD either.

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  14. if there is not to be another chapo or the cartel era its over, well they are living on another planet, dimension or world because el mayo its been ruling for more than 30 years and the cds still controls the trafficking and selling of drugs on the whole world..
    I'M NOT A CDS NUTHUGGER just a guy looking at the world.

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  15. Kirstjen Nielsen, “sends an unmistakable message to transnational criminals: You cannot hide, you are not beyond our reach,
    GUESS he doesn't know about el mayo 😂😂😂😂😂😂

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    1. These troglodytes will spew all sorts of BS to get that sweet gov funding. What nonsense. El Azul was directly involved in their boy Kiki's death and where is he now? lmao

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    2. 7:26 first time I see el Azul involved in Kiki Camarena's abduction, torture and murder, absolutely not like the guy,
      he was always a man of peace...
      On the other hand, the CIA "rogue agent impersonators" like Cuban refugee Felix Ismael Rodriguez Mendigutia, Oliver North, John Poindexter, and their employers, who have been denounced even on Fox News, have not been bothered since they got president pardoned to obstruct the Iran/Contra investigations...
      --Mexicans like DFS Manuel Bartlett, Javier Garcia Paniagua, fernando Gutierrez Barrios or Manlio Fabio Beltrones (Barrios secretaria) habe been pretty much been left alone too, (all DFS GANGSTERS PUPPETS OF THE REAL CIA)

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  16. 1:47 you are right about other families in the business that are more discrete!😎

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  17. Why bring mencho into chapós arguments he is not even close to being top rank like chapo. It’s like saying lebron is GOAT over MJ

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    1. Technically he is lol chapo tried taking many p loazas but couldn't ever achieve it. In the other hand mencho took zeta, golfo and cds plazas.
      Chapo 0 rings. Mencho 8 rings mencho is GOAT

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  18. Chapito Isidro is the new breed all about business and being discreet

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    1. That is not new breed, more old school than anything

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    2. Let chapito isidro get established somewhere, plant roots, and shit, his friends need to go see him once in a while.
      Need not be afraid, chapito.
      Tubutama is like, waaay back in the past, he hee heee

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  19. The thirst for drug consuming, will kill the druggies.

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  20. "Its the users, stupid." The drug use is just a symptom of the gross social and moral decay of western society. When you get to the point where half the population admits to at least some usage, you are screwed. No amount of trying to eliminate the suppliers is going to stop the flow of drugs as the pool of suppliers is endless when the money is so big. Frankly I am beginning to think the societies which just execute the users really have the only answer here.

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  21. Not one mention about corruption? Chapo, like all of them, are only puppets to their government masters.

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  22. What are you talking about? Sicario 006 is the taking over all the plaza along with his boy toy El Brody Banderas

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  23. 8:14 AM --

    its the stupid....as in those who are not to bright who just so happen to also use drugs. yal make it sound like most of these folks were on there way to becoming the next nobel prize ground breaking thinkers until big berrddd drugs came a callin and all the problems began. You know what that is? a cop out, stupid people do stupid things, one of their favorite things to do is to act a certain way and blame other people or even better, personify a material object to take the blame for their lack of responsibility and poor choices/character ((ie GUNS are EVIL, so evil in fact that its almost as if the man with arse for brain didn't kill all those innocent people by choice of his own will to action. That SELFISH METH made that popular girl steal from her friends and family, shes not a shart of a human being lacking in care for anyone but herself no no no, the METH is SELFISH, see what it made her do?.... see when you get to the point where half the population admits not out loud of course but via their actions that they too don't like responsbility and rather blame material objects for their flawed rational, when one argues the merits and superior sense of having public policy created in response to the actions and synapses of the least among us, thats how you'll know the blind man imploring the virtues clothing outdoors while socrateasing a freestyle on top a soap box while unknowingly in the nude. . No amount of trying to eliminate one social ill via a short sight, a torque wrench and a scapegoat ... is going to produce a crop we want to harvest, these choices we make have impacts on real peoples lives, so before proclaiming with certainty aloud that where this reality of show next need go a fait acompli to climax solutione finale once and for all ey? is by execution en mass of a hefty % of the adult population. Join us or die, think like me or else is what spawns this type of mess. I dont condone drug use, nor do I like it, I dont do it, but ah be damned to take away your choice to do so either by threat of punishment or worse. See Nancy Regan was correct she just got the spelling wrong...probably went to public school huh? wink wink...not "just say no" but.."just learn & know".....heck even "just listen(shush up) and yes" may be whats needed. Whats worse than a dangerous knee jerk idea such as promoting violence as solution.that affects everyone, including you and i, our fellow sisters and brothers so profoundly? frankly im begiinning to think and so should you. please plant seeds you wish you harvest

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