El Chapo's children could take over Sinaloa Drug Cartel after father's guilty verdict


The guilty verdict slapped on Sinaloa cartel drug boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán -- while welcomed and a huge victory for the law -- will ultimately pave the way for El Chapo's six sons to accelerate their attempts to take over their father's former turf.

Guzman, 61, faces life in prison without possibility of parole. He also faces indictments in other jurisdictions such as El Paso, Texas and in another federal court district in New York.

If anything, the guilty verdict on all 10 criminal counts handed down by a federal court in Brooklyn, New York yesterday could mean Guzman's six sons will have to grow-up faster to regain total control of the drug empire their murderous father grew into the most powerful drug cartel on the planet.

Standing in their way is the current drug boss, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, a longtime associate of Guzman's. Zambada, however, is 71 years-old and reportedly is in poor health.

Some of Guzman's sons have taken over their father's business in the cartel. But because they still "haven't gotten their hands dirty" (killed people), they're derisively called "narco juniors."

"They're good at spending their father's money but are hardly capable of running the cartel," said Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Guzman's sons are Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar, Édgar Guzman López, Jesús Alfredo Guzman Salazar, César Guzman Salazar, Ovidio Guzman López and Joaquín Guzman López. They have different mothers.

Guzman was found guilty of all 10 federal criminal accounts against him, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds, international distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs, and use of firearms.

Apart from generating billions of dollars, Guzman's Sinaloa drug cartel flourished because it created a culture of mass corruption at all levels of Mexican society, especially in the federal government and the police.

The trial revealed distressing testimony about corruption at nearly every level of the Mexican government, from police and military commanders to local and state officials and to former Mexican presidents.

Drug enforcement officials said this massive and pervasive corruption did not end with Guzman's capture. It thrives and still facilitates the Sinaloa cartel's successful operations.

"It's a confirmation of the massive widespread bribery and points to the difficulty the US government under (Presidents) George W. Bush, under (Barack) Obama and now (Donald) Trump have in finding workable partners," said Bruce Bagley, a University of Miami expert on Mexico's cartels.

"With or without El Chapo, these lines of bribery, these lines of corruption, extend into every political party at every level of the Mexican government."

Bagley described the guilty verdict as "a symbolic victory."

"It's not going to affect the future of Sinaloa. The bottom line is that there are a lot of other people waiting in the wings. The jockeying has already begun."

This article was first published in IBTimes US. Permission required for reproduction.