Monday, April 12, 2010

Drug war sitrep

With Chapo having taken Ciudad Juarez, it's a good time for a look at where the cartels stand.

Sinaloa/Durango/Sonora remain under the sway of Chapo and El Mayo. The Beltran Leyva remnants appear to be moving back into the fold. There is fighting up there, but it's low-level. Everybody appears to know who will end up being the winner.

Tijuana is under Chapo's control. The fall of the Arellano Felix brothers ensured he would take over eventually: Enedina, the Arellano Felix sister, is apparently nothing more than a token figurehead -- the Sinaloans and their local people are running the show.

Tamaulipas is a fucking mess, the reason being that the Gulf and Zetas no longer work side by side. The Gulf leadership (what's left of it, since the Zetas undercut their bosses and Osiel Cardenas Guillen was sentenced) has made a deal with the Sinaloa cartel to oust Los Zetas.

Los Zetas are apparently moving their forces back to Tamaulipas, mainly from Quintana Roo and Yucatan, to deal with the debacle. This will leave a plaza open -- Chapo's people have long had a presence in the area, and will likely take it back once the Zetas have gone. Expect bloodshed down those parts in the coming months. My bet is we'll see another Cancun police department overhaul, as Zeta-linked cops are replaced with folks Chapo can or already has bought off.

Juarez is controlled by Chapo's people, which will allow him to move in on Tamaulipas much more easily. He had a vantage point in this respect in 2003, when the Sinaloans and Carrillo Fuentes were allies, but he blew it by killing Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes and getting greedy. He doesn't need to worry about that this time around; my belief is that Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, who was always seen as very weak, has cut a deal with Chapo too. This would lead to decreased violence, which is obviously what Juarez needs right now.

With the Gulf on Chapo's side, Tamaulipas is his for the taking. But it will be bloody as hell.

La Familia is crumbling in Michoacan. The reason is not that the authorities have done such a great job at arresting them (or all those politicians), but that they've been co-opted by larger groups. Both the Sinaloans and the Gulf have made deals with La Familia (an inevitability; a Michoacan-based group can produce all the drugs it wants but it can't get them to the US without allying with someone bigger). Oddly, I have also heard that Los Zetas and La Familia may have formed a loose alliance. The two groups who blamed each other for the Morelia attacks joining forces? I'm hesitant to believe it.

Guerrero and Morelos -- formerly controlled by the Beltran Leyva brothers on behalf of Chapo -- are now central points in the drug war. Guerrero is a key marijuana/opium production zone and transit point for Colombian cocaine, and is being disputed by La Barbie and what's left of the Beltran Leyva brothers. A new group, Cartel del Pacifico Sur, has emerged. It appears to be the Beltran Leyva brothers' new organization, separate from both Chapo and La Barbie. From what I can see, La Barbie is working on behalf of Chapo again, while Hector Beltran Leyva is trying to stay independent -- at least in the central/southern part of the country. US officials confirm this theory.

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