July 19, 2024
How The Sinaloa Cartel Bested The Mexican Army
“The Sinaloa Cartel demonstrated a tremendous ability to mobilize rapidly and take effective control of the city,” says Raul Benitez, an expert on Latin America’s armed conflicts. “They showed that in Sinaloa, they are the ones who run things.”
“The Sinaloa Cartel demonstrated a tremendous ability to mobilize rapidly and take effective control of the city,” says Raul Benitez, an expert on Latin America’s armed conflicts. “They showed that in Sinaloa, they are the ones who run things.”

In Mexico’s big cities, drug cartel gunmen normally act like phantoms. They hide in safe houses or amid communities, suddenly striking with an assassination or a gunfight, and then disappearing again. Residents know they are there and are scared, but most the time, they can’t see them.

But on Thursday in the Sinaloan city of Culiacan, the cartel gunmen were everywhere. They openly drove in trucks with mounted machine guns, blockaded streets flashing their Kalashnikovs and burned trucks unleashing plumes of smoke like it was a scene in Syria. They took control of the strategic points in the metro area, shut down the airport, roads, and government buildings and exchanged fire with security forces for hours, leaving at least eight people dead. In contrast, everyone else had to act like ghosts, hiding behind locked doors, not daring to step outside.

And in this unusual battle, the Sinaloa Cartel won. Their uprising was in response to soldiers storming a house on Thursday and arresting Ovidio Guzman, the 28-year old son of convicted kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. In February, the U.S. Justice Department announced it had indicted Ovidio Guzman on trafficking cocaine, marijuana and meth. But after hours of cartel chaos, Mexico’s federal government gave soldiers the go ahead to release him. It capitulated.

I’ve covered Mexico’s drug violence for 18 years, written two books about the subject, and seen many extraordinary episodes. In Sinaloa, the cradle of drug traffickers, I’ve repeatedly been on the crime beat chasing bullet-ridden corpses and into the mountains to Guzman’s opium-growing village. But Thursday was different. It wasn’t gangster action; it was a mass insurrection.

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See Also:

(1) Mexican president says he ‘supported’ decision to release El Chapo’s son

(2) Military admits poor planning, hasty actions led to Culiacán shootouts

(3) Reporter asks if security strategy has failed. AMLO: ‘It’s working very well’ (Bullshit baffles brains every time.)

(4) Commission to investigate Guerrero gunfight that killed 15

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