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The “Chapitos”, the “Mayo”, the “Mencho”: who are the drug bosses in the US’s sights

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After announcing the decision of the United States authorities to dismiss the charges of drug trafficking and money laundering against the general Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, it has been inevitable to ask what considerations came into play for his release.

The formal response has been that the former Secretary of Defense is a Mexican citizen, and the crimes allegedly committed took place in this territory, where he would have to be prosecuted.

In the midst of a controversy generated by this unexpected and historic turn of the US government, the news agency Reuters estimated that the return of the military man was the agreed price in exchange for the Mexican government handing over a high-level drug trafficking leader.

“The Mexican government pledged to arrest a high-level cartel leader in agreement with the United States Attorney General, William Barr, this to drop drug trafficking charges against former Secretary of National Defense, Salvador Hundred fires”.

“[…] Mexico told Barr privately that it would work with the United States to arrest a high-level cartel leader involved in trafficking large amounts of the synthetic opioid fentanyl“, he claimed Reuters.

Mexico is the largest supplier of fentanyl to its northern neighbor, in a traffic dominated by the Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG).

The US State Department doubled the reward from USD 5 to 10 million for those who provide information leading to the capture of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias "The Mencho", (Photo: DEA)
The US State Department doubled the reward from USD 5 to 10 million for those who provide information leading to the capture of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho”, (Photo: DEA)

According to accusations by the United States Department of Justice, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, the “Mencho”, directs the CJNG – or its embryonic version – at least since 2000 and has managed to expand it to most of the entities in Mexico and to several cities in the United States.

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The key to its advancement lies, according to experts, in its ability to corrupt authorities at all levels of government and the use of extreme violence when its authority is not respected.

The “Mencho” became the most wanted criminal in Washington last March. Authorities offer up to $ 10 million for clues to help catch him.

Ismael Zambada García, the "Mayo"
Ismael Zambada García, the “May”

This criminal leader, also known as the “Señor de los Gallos” has grown in the shadow of other better known drug traffickers such as the founder of the Sinaloa Cartel, Ismael Zambada García, the “May”, the only capo of the old guard, with more than 40 years of experience, who has never been arrested.

Unlike your partner, Joaquin Guzman Loera, “Mayo” began to be sought by Mexican authorities in the late 1990s, during the so-called Maxiprocess, which began in the state of Quintana Roo. The accusation would go largely unnoticed until the beginning of this new century, when it would finally gain some notoriety.

Then, his profile began to be of greater interest to the DEA, which even placed panoramic ads with the photograph of Ismael Zambada.

Rafael Caro Quintero spent 28 years in prison (Photo: PFP / Cuartoscuro)
Rafael Caro Quintero spent 28 years in prison (Photo: PFP / Cuartoscuro)

Under the same logic, the drug agency tried to hunt down the “Narco de Narcos”, Rafael Caro Quintero, who after 28 years in prison has regrouped his forces to attack the “Chapitos”, heirs of Joaquín el “Chapo” Guzmán.

For Caro Quintero, taking advantage of the fall of Guzmán Loera – sentenced to life imprisonment in the United States – has been to dispute the territory of the Sinaloa Cartel itself. With blood and fire he has made his steps felt in the state of Sonora.

The capo comes from a germinal time in which Mexican drug trafficking was an appendage of the Colombian. His bonanza would end in 1985, when he made one of his worst mistakes. After discovering that they had been infiltrated by the DEA, they decided to kill their man in the area, Enrique “Kiki” Camarena.

The crime unleashed one of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s largest revenge operations.


Cienfuegos for a high-level narco: the exchange between Mexico and the US that allowed the general’s release

Who is “Guty”, the fearsome right arm of Mencho captured in Puerto Vallarta

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