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Mexican govt. pursuing top drug lords despite fragmented criminal landscape

July 29, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Mexican govt. pursuing top drug lords despite fragmented criminal landscape

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Written by Tristan Clavel

Authorities in Mexico continue to focus on targeting the heads of the country’s most prominent cartels, pursuing a kingpin strategy that will probably do little to cure a dire security situation given the nation’s increasingly fragmented organized crime landscape.

The Mexican Attorney General’s Office has a list of 15 individuals considered to be the most prominent drug lords from various criminal organizations, reported Posta. Their arrests are viewed as a high priority following January’s re-capture of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán.

The Sinaloa Federation

Five individuals on the list are members of El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel, arguably the most infamous drug trafficking group in the country.

Ismael Zambada Garcia “El Mayo,” El Chapo’s partner and heads one of the most prominent factions of the cartel.

Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, alias “El Azul”,  a former police detective whose history in the drug business dates back to the  Guadalajara Cartel in the 1980s. Recently, security experts say he played a significant but discrete role within the Sinaloa leadership. Reports of “El Azul’s” death in 2014 haven’t been confirmed by authorities.

Dámaso López Núñez, alias “El Licenciado”, rose through the ranks of the organization after helping facilitate El Chapo’s first of two prison escapes in 2001.

For some time López Núñez was considered to be El Chapo’s designated successor, although the cartel’s decentralized structure weakens those claims. His son, Dámaso López Serrano, alias “El Mini Lic,” a godson of El Chapo, is also on the list.

José Antonio Cueto López rounds out the Sinaloa’s top fugitives who the Attorney General’s Office believes operates is the intermediary between the organization and public officials in Mexico City, according to Posta.


Juárez Cartel

Since the 1980’s, the Juárez Cartel has been a major player but is thought to have experienced a significant decline in recent years.

Two members of the organization remain on the list. Juan Pablo Ledezma, alias “El JL”, is considered to be its current leader following the October 2014 arrest of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, “El Viceroy,” while Juan Pablo Guijarro Fragosa, alias “El Mónico” or “El H1,” heads up  “La Línea,” the cartel’s enforcement wing.

Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO)

Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, alias “Chapo” or “Chapito” Isidro, is believed by some to have taken control of the BLO following the 2014 arrest of Hector Beltran. He allegedly leads the group known as the “Mazatlecos” in the war against the Sinaloa Cartel for the control of the Golden Triangle, a strategic poppy cultivation, and trafficking region in northern Mexico.

Francisco Javier Hernández García, “El Panchito,” was the intermediary between the BLO, the Juárez, and Gulf cartels who was reportedly captured in February 2016.

Los Rojos

Two members of Los Rojos, a BLO splinter group, appear on the list led by Santiago Mazari, alias “El Carrete” or “El 8,” and his partner Omar Cuenca Ramírez, “El Niño Popis,” who runs the group’s operations in Guerrero, according to Posta.

La Familia Michoacana

Ignacio Rentería, alias “El Nacho,” heads La Familia’s operations in Uruapan, Michoacán’s second biggest city. The Attorney General’s Office offers a 10 million peso reward for information leading to his capture. Johnny Hurtado Olascoaga, “El Pez,” or “El Fish,” controls the organization’s activities in the Terra Caliente region and is allegedly responsible for a 2014 wave of kidnappings in Valle de Bravo, State of Mexico.

Los Zetas

Maxiley Barahona Nadales, alias “El Contador,” heads Los Zetas’ activities in Tabasco, Chiapas and Veracuz, he is a top lieutenant of Miguel Ángel Treviño,“Z-40,” the former head of the cartel who was captured in 2013.

Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG)

Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho,” is the leader and founder of the CJNG. His organization has become one of Mexico’s most powerful cartels, operating in a total of eight states, more than any other group in the country.

InSight Crime Analysis

President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration has persistently oriented its antidrug strategy on the basis of an evolving most wanted list, all while attempting to minimize the public awareness it.

Keeping the names of high-valued targets secret could be justified by the need to protect ongoing investigations. But it also makes political sense for an administration whose president ran on the promise of abandoning his predecessor’s kingpin strategy before adopting an almost identical drug policy.

The government has recently claimed significant advances in its fight against crime, even as Mexico’s homicide rate is climbing.

While the government focuses on top drug lords, the country’s has witnessed further fragmentation of its criminal landscape, with Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office admitting to the existence of more than 40 gangs working for nine powerful cartels in 2014.

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