Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, April 8, 2024

What Is Cartel Kingpin El Chapo’s Legacy In Sinaloa, Mexico?

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - JANUARY 8: Joaquin Guzman Loera, also known as "El Chapo" is transported to …

In 2019, Mexico’s most famous drug trafficker, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was sentenced to life in prison in the United States. Academics, journalists, and political analysts in Mexico and the U.S. are still working to evaluate the full scale of his impact in the state of Sinaloa in northwestern Mexico. El Chapo is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths on both sides of the border if we tally up the opiate overdoses caused by Sinaloan fentanyl in the U.S. and organized crime-related murders in Mexico. But, in Sinaloa he is also responsible for a complicated legacy of corruption, violence, and significant economic development. I recently spoke with Noah Hurowitz, the author of the book, EL CHAPO: The Untold Story Of The World’s Most Infamous Drug Lord about El Chapo’s life and legacy.

One aspect of El Chapo’s legacy is violence. One of the most high-profile incidents that has occurred during the post-Chapo era in Sinaloa was an explosion of violence on October 17, 2019 when Mexican security forces tried to detain El Chapo’s son, Ovidio. In another incident in 2024, cartel gunmen kidnapped several dozen people in Culiacan (Sinaloa’s capital) including women and children. In total, Sinaloa recorded 19,882 homicides between 2006 and 2023.

But, something surprising is that we have actually seen a drop in homicides over the past few years in Sinaloa.

Homicide tallies have been declining in Sinaloa, Mexico in recent years, according to data from ... [+]

Nathaniel Parish Flannery

In fact, the total number of homicides recorded in Sinaloa in 2023 was more than 75 percent lower than the total from 2010, which was the worst year for violence in Sinaloa in the past two decades.

(It is important to note, however, that this drop in violence isn’t a result in a decrease in the amount of power organized crime groups wield in Sinaloa.)

Another aspect of El Chapo’s legacy is corruption. Transparency International ranks Mexico as 126th out of 180 countries in its 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Noah Hurowitz told me that the number one secret to El Chapo’s success as a drug trafficker was impunity.

“Like many drug traffickers he was able to operate for a very long time and be very successful due to a level of impunity in Mexico that ensured that drug traffickers could get very rich. He was known for having strong relationships with members of the security forces in areas he needed to smuggle drugs through,” Hurowitz said.

In addition to the violence carried out by Sinaloa Cartel gunmen, another part of El Chapo’s legacy is the corrosive effect of drug money on institutional strength.

“He was effective because of corruption. El Chapo had really strong contacts within the Mexican state. El Chapo could operate without any true fear of being captured,” Hurowitz explained.

Overall, it may be more helpful to think of El Chapo as a politically protected power broker than as an outlaw. One thing the Sinaloa Cartel is known for is their business-like approach to extorting companies in the legal economy. One insight about their influence is the fact that they are known for being able to protect legal businesses from low-level criminals and robbers but also from government inspectors and officials.

Another aspect of El Chapo’s legacy is impunity.

An astounding 99.9 percent of all murders in Sinaloa go unsolved, meaning that cartel gunmen rarely face investigations or arrests after shootouts or attacks on rivals. Overall, the World Justice Project ranks Mexico as 116th out of 142 countries in its 2023 Rule Of Law Index. According to the Global Organized Crime Index, Mexico is now considered to be the world’s highest risk country for extortion.

Sinaloa is one of the worst hotspots in Mexico for carjacking and the worst state in Mexico for the percentage of car thefts that involve violence. Sinaloa recorded 1,775 violent carjackings in 2023 and is the third highest risk state in Mexico for violent carjackings (per capita).

Sinaloa is one of the top hotspots in Mexico for violent carjacking. In terms of violent carjackings ... [+]

Nathaniel Parish Flannery

Because of weak law enforcement capacity and high levels of impunity we don’t know exactly who is doing this carjacking in Sinaloa, but a general trend in Mexico is that organized crime groups often steal cars such as Volkswagen Jettas and Toyota Hiluxes to be used in criminal operations such as kidnappings or armed assaults on rivals. (It is important to note, however, that unlike organized crime groups in other states in Mexico, gunmen from the Sinaloa Cartel have not diversified into hijacking cargo trucks. Mexico’s federal government recorded only two cargo truck hijacking incidents in Sinaloa in 2023. By contrast, Mexico State recorded 3,634!)

One other aspect of El Chapo’s legacy is economic development.

Over the past few years we’ve seen huge growth in cash transfers from the U.S. to Mexico. Remittance payments nearly doubled from $34 billion in 2018 to $67 billion in 2023.

It’s very likely that this surge is partially driven by drug cartels moving money back from the U.S. to Mexico. So, this surge of income for Mexico is also part of El Chapo’s legacy.

Many foreigners may be surprised at the level of recent economic development and investment in Culiacan. Culiacan’s economy appears to be booming with significant new investments in hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, and residential real estate developments.

I recently visited the most exclusive cemetery in Culiacan: the Jardines del Humaya. Something that really stands out is that both powerful narcos and local elite business owners are buried there.

The families have built incredibly ornate shrines which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some have Roman columns and look like mini Ivy League university buildings. Others are hyper-modern and made from glass and steel.

When you are inside the cemetery you may see well-dressed, wealthy locals visiting the graves of deceased family members. You really can’t tell who is a narco and who is an empresario.

Something I heard when I was in Sinaloa is that wealthy narcos now send their children to the same schools as the children of Culiacan’s traditional business elites. I went and saw the condo that El Chapo’s son, Ovidio, lived in before he was captured. It does seem like very tight ties have been built between the illegal and legal businesses in Sinaloa. A lot of the commercial and residential real estate developments in Sinaloa are likely to be the beneficiaries of drug money.

When we talk about Sinaloa, it’s important to note that El Chapo’s drug money has been a tremendous catalyst for economic development in the state.

“The drug trade has injected money into the legal economy of Sinaloa. Culiacan is a city where there is a lot of money [and] some of that comes from people selling opium, marijuana, and now fentanyl,” Hurowitz told me.



  1. USA must be number 1 most corrupt country in the world

    1. Nope it's actually Mexico.
      Also Mexico tops the World in yearly homicidios.

    2. At this point they are ALL corrupt..

    3. Russia is the most corrupt followed by Iran Mexico is number four and the US is number 25

    4. 1:40 The US has more gun deaths than Mexico.

    5. 6:51
      Mexico has more people murdered and cut up to pieces than any other country.

    6. 6:51 Number of decapitated and dismembered? There's videos of victims begging to be shot to death instead of being d&d on here.

    7. There is no number 1

    8. Only His Holiness Saint Trump can save us. He is THE Messiah.

    9. Regardless of decapitation and dismemberment, that still doesn't change the fact the US has more gun deaths.

  2. Cash remittances being up now, I'm sure it more reflects the continued increase in legitimate employment opportunities for foreign workers in the US. As more people from Mexico are finding better jobs remittances will increase, especially while quality of life in Mexico is more attractive for the same dollar. Over the last decade, migration by Mexicans to the US has dropped back to levels that are more in line with reality. All this illegal entry happens at the border, and it does involve cartels moving them, but it's so seldom Mexicans seeking entry that there's less of a barrier to entry through the legal system for Mexican nationals

  3. El chapos legacy was destroying the sinaloa cartel. All was well until he escaped in 2001 and started wars with Arellanos, Zetas, Carrillos, Beltranes, Damasos etc. All these other cartels still have no beef to this day, that's real mafia. Chapo has always been a backstabber and a cheap rat just like his sons. Now nobody want his sons around. Won't be long until they end up fighting the Zambadas.

    1. He was locked up when his sons went at it with his right hand Damaso and Arellano it seemed like they started messing with him first Ramon killing his friend Rayo and with Carillo if u heard mini lic podcast he mentions that Viceroys brother were abusing JGL people in Novalato and disrespecting him so much that he had to kill him which popped off the war, The zetas wasn’t even his beef at first it was Arturo Beltran back when he was CDS helping barbie in Laredo Chapo might be scum but he’s not the root of all evil like u make it seem

    2. @3:26 el chapo was a bitch ass pedophile of course he is a big root of evil .. the audacity to even try and defend his sorry ass

    3. 9:20 nobody is saying he’s a good guy but root of ALL evil? Defending? Tell me where im mistaken in my comment

  4. I'm not impressed. The cartels should focos on protecting their own people instead of extorting, raping, kidnapping, senseless and ruthless killings

  5. A legacy of greed that caused wars in other states and murder with a touch of snitching and being buried alive in a real prison while his kids fuck his business all up. He shld of left everything to his brother. He is the more capable guzman left.

    1. Relax you just hate on chapo

    2. He is a piece of shit. And outside of sinaloa he is not well liked.

  6. Chapo is number 1#

    Jose R.S.
    Sinaloa, Mexico

    1. 2 pm. I would have to say that Pablo Escobar made way more money than Chapo. Was watching this show on Hulu called ten things you didn’t know or something like that. And Mr Pablo one time burned 2 million dollars to make a bong fire to keep his daughter warm because she was cold?
      If there was ever a time where the phrase in regards to “ burning through money”. Then He definitely did. What sucks is all this violence called because of greed. And this ego shit. It’s ridiculous how even in my life I’ve met people that because someone is making 1000 dollars more than them ( and they are making already 4 to 6 thousand in one shot ). They want to fuck the other person over. And it’s been people that gave them the change to make that money. Which I find outrageous. People don’t respect the individual that open doors for them. It’s quite sad.

      Rubio NYC

  7. Y luego dicen las fanaticas de CDS que SI atrapan a chingones de ese cartel puede soltar la violencia?
    Atrapen a todo puto de este cartel y ya.
    Para que tanto rodeo?

  8. De shihuahua pal noreste no es querido es tiene la culpa que ya no son bienvenidos a se diga pal sur nomas su lambe botas de dgo lo quieren porque ya ni pa sonora los quieren

    1. En Sonora siempre a querido al Chapo especialmente los Salazar, sus hijos es otra cosa si estuviera libre Sonora estaría con Sinaloa todavia

    2. En Chihuas todavía hay un resto de gente que le es fiel al chapo y al CDS. La Linea controla casi toda la frontera de Chihuahua con excepto de Valle de Juárez… CDS controla casi toda la sierra con excepto de Namiquipa pero casi toda la sierra desde Madera hasta Parral tiene fuerte presencia el CDS

    3. @7:35 la linea tambien esta en casi toda la sierra

  9. Animo Sicarios!
    El Señor Guzman solo siembro frijoles.

    All Gente Nueva Tier 1 Special Forces Operators were given the day off to see the total eclipse.
    Mossad modified tactical telescopes , tripods and camera were used to see it . Even a NSA satelite was used to get a better view.

    1. Hey 006, im trying to get good binoculars and a tripod .any recommendations?

    2. 006 did you go to the big Burning Man parties in Mazatlan for the eclipse? They would buy all the drugs you could truck in

    3. @ 4:51 Anything from Leupold or Vortex are quality optics.

    4. @7:13 tested some Vortex Fury HD today!

    5. Zeiss binoculars y ya

  10. De verdad cómo hace falta Joaquín
    Y aunque no está aquí, bien firme el legado
    Hijos, ya no me pude despedir
    Pero desde aquí les mando un brazo
    Esta no la vi venir, mas ya estoy aquí
    Y ahorita para dónde me hago
    Pero la es vida así, les mando decir
    Que se anden con cuidado
    Badiraguato, la sierra donde creciera en su rancho La Tuna
    Caminos entre veredas, tenía sus cuevas hechas a su estatura
    Puente grande fue el lugar, cómo olvidar esa famosa fuga
    Y varios años atrás por quererlo matar
    Se llevaron un cura
    Cuando el viejo se enfiestaba
    Siempre fajada la 701
    Buen ritmo pa la bailada
    Buen paso daba con una pelo rubio
    Bastante seguridad por todo el lugar
    Relajado y seguro
    Al mando del cholo Iván
    Puro ex-militar más blindado que un muro
    Alegre y enamorado
    Por varios ranchos dejó varias semillas
    El mayor es Archibaldo
    Junto a su hermano y los de Jesús María
    Uno que otro más por ahí
    Sin mencionar, pero igual son familia
    Edgar me los va a cuidar
    Le he de rezar y un abrazo hasta arriba
    Amistades de grandeza y pa las guerras
    Muy pocos me llegaron
    Compadres por donde quiera
    Pero en mi ausencia uno cambió de bando
    Un agente federal
    Bastó nomás pa estar aquí encerrado
    Por no querer arreglar
    Mi cholo Iván lo hubieras fusilado
    Ya con esta me despido
    De mis amigos, de mi rancho y mi madre
    Toquen corridos bonitos
    De esos viejitos como el del M grande

  11. Off Topic
    So much crazy unbelievable stuff going on in this World Inflation is hurting all of us one way or another,🤔 I can't figure why gas prices continue to go up, the stupid excuse OPEC gave, because a Russian refinery got hit by a bomb. There's sanctions with Russia, US is not buying their oil, therefore no reason to raise it.
    429.9 a gallon.,........ 3 weeks ago
    $479.9..…...2 weeks ago


    I'm going to need to carpool in Sols VW Bug

    1. Gas is $3.29 in Detroit.
      Sol rides a bicycle. He can give you a ride if you pedal.

    2. Inflation means people have more money to spend; deflation is when people have less to spend.

    3. Deflation is when prices are falling, and people think they are going to fall even lower, so they put off buying that car or refrigerator, and it fucks up the economy

    4. 😱 omg I forgot to input the gas prices I put in in Irvine, California.
      California seems to always pay more a gallon than the other States, lucky Detroit, I am sure has will climb in your State soon.


    5. @07:02 you are backwards. Inflation means people have less money to spend because the same goods they used to buy are more expensive (i.e. Milk goes from $1.99 to $4.99).

      Deflation means that people have more money to spend because the same goods they used to buy are less expensive, meaning they get more quantity for the same money.

      California gas prices will never come to Michigan or Georgia. Nobody here in the midwest is dumb enough to pay the government triple the value of the gas in taxes.

    6. @03:32 if you want to know the truth. This is absolutely a huge issue.

      The Biden administration is currently debating what to do about the war. They told Ukraine that they needed to stop blowing up Russian refineries and oil depots.

      The only reason those fuckers would be on the same side as Big Vlad, who by the way is extremely homophobic, is because they don't want expensive oil for election.

      It is election year after all. Bring your babies to the White House so Biden and Trump can kiss and fondle them.

      Maybe the next president will buy every American a cheeseburger from McDonalds, they're bussin. I usually dip mine into a bit of fentanyl powder just to make it taste better.

      But, at the same time, why does the USA fund both sides of almost every conflict?! WTF!

  12. Surprisingly chapo is still a god like figure in Sinaloa and a majority of people in culiacan are loyal to his kids. I think it’s bc culiacan has become such a superficial city where people just praise wealth, power and fame. They all wanna be the next chapo instead of respecting the low key quiet money. They don’t even think about how much destruction he caused because of greed. I know Arturo Beltran was going crazy before he died because of the war but Mexico would prolly be a far better place if he won that war as he was well liked and respected by the other cartels and people all across the country without causing mayhem. Chapo is the reason Mexico is in the state it’s in now. He made war a normal thing and it’s just snowballed.

    1. The families have built incredibly ornate shrines which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some have Roman columns and look like mini Ivy League . I just love how people on this site… just make up facts and figures based on what they think. Just think of it and imagine and prolly-not a real word short for probably like maybe possibly it was hundreds of thousands I don’t really know but I’m just going to say that because it sounds good

    2. Can you explain how you came to meet every last resident of Culiacan ? How long did it take for you to interview over 700,000 people ? You make these ass-umptions, but in reality the majority of sinaloense could care less than you about getting involved with drugs, narcos or death. Most people live normal and humble lives there, if anything when I lived in Juarez I felt like everyone even grandparents were involved in some way, shape or form.

    3. The difference with Colombia is that they are not erasing history. They want it to be known , but they are choosing to leave the bad as history and more forward with positivity many people were affected in Mexico and Colombia with the drug war. But Colombia has handled it very well with much maturity. Many people don't even wanna mention Escobars name due to the harm he did, to the country. Hopefully Mexico will one day open it's eyes and realize they parasites do more harm than good and stop glamorizing. .

    4. Chapo is pedophile and rapist, which is exactly the kind of people being protected by cult like law enforcement in the united states.

  13. Hundreds of thousands? Eh…..
    Bad guy? Yes.
    Dr Evil? No.

  14. "De los pies a la cabeza
    Es bajito de estatura
    De la cabeza hasta el cielo
    Yo le calculo su altura
    Porque es grande entre los grandes
    A ver quién tiene una duda
    Ya conoció la pobreza
    Ya conoció la riqueza
    Si lo respetan respeta
    Si lo ofenden se acelera
    Y del infierno se escapa
    Y se presina en la iglesia
    ¡Y húbole!
    Y un bonito saludo
    Pa' toda la raza de Badiraguato, Sinaloa
    ¡Qué húbole!, pura sierra, viejo
    A veces la residencia
    A veces casa campaña
    Los radios y las metrallas
    Durmiendo en piso o en la cama
    De techo a veces las cuevas
    Joaquín, "el Chapo" le llaman
    Acostumbrado a mandar
    También te sabe escuchar
    Sobresale entre los grandes
    Chequen su historia nomás
    Echó raíz en el amor
    Hay muchos hijos por ahí
    Salucita, compa Agüero
    Puro guaracho de tres puntadas, viejo
    Por medio de este corrido
    Voy a mandar a saludar
    Aquellos viejos amigos
    Que no he podido olvidar
    Soy el tío pa' mis sobrinos
    Para otros Chapo Guzmán"

    1. I don’t listen to these narco songs. But I have to say that out of all the ones I’ve read on here. This one has very smart Lyrics.

      Rubio NYC

    2. Cool story…

  15. He’s going to escape

  16. He’s a piece of shit greedy egomaniac.

  17. Chapos legacy left behind a trail of death and destruction.

  18. El Chapo. El General. Mis respetos.

    1. @07:07 fuck your respect foo it don't mean shit apparently..... fuck your god chapo. Chapo "El Pendejo"

    2. 6:56 Respect behave says The Rubio of Puerto Rico.

  19. Y vamonos pa culiacan viejon 💨

  20. Legacy 😂😴😂😴🤣 WTF there is no such thing as legacies for international terrorists and their kids

    1. I am sorry but the book writer said that in order for his books to sell like pancakes, he has to say Legacy.

  21. Chaput0s legacy is that he was a pedophile who preyed on underaged girls

  22. Chapo will always be admired by many. His kids? Not so much

  23. Here's his legacy. He was a vicious psychopath who sold poison to those dumb enough to indulge. He killed his own countryman, killed women, killed children. He was a greedy POS who helped destroy his own country. Once the US got his ass he showed what a gutless, chicken shit, crybaby he is. He whines and cries constantly!! "I need a foot stool so I can go poop! " I don't like the food, I only get an hour outside my cell per day". Suddenly the big man is nothing more than a 5"4" inch crybaby!!! The ONLY good thing this POS EVER did was got arrested while his daughters were still young so he couldn't poison them with his evil.

  24. Anyone who admires this POS is sick in the head. He raped and murdered his own countrymen and built an Anyone empire selling poison to weak minded junkies. Ever since he arrived here in NYC he has done nothing but cry like the little POS he is! Classics like "I can't poop without my little footstool". "I only get an hour outside my cell each day" "The food here upsets my stomach". Haa. Wheres the big bad MF'r now??? The ONLY good thing this piece of trash ever did was get arrested while his girls were still to young to be poisoned with his evil.


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