Friday, January 14, 2011

Caye El Condor

Colombian authorities have detained Julio Enrique Ayala Munoz, aka El Condor, believed to be El Chapo's man in Cali, Colombia.

Nothing amazing about this arrest, but two interesting elements: once again, it's a Sinaloa cartel connection, and this time with international cooperation. The Colombians have actually done a fair bit of cracking down on Sinaloa connections in their country in recent years; in 2009 they seized dozens of properties worth tens of millions, all of which belonged to Chapo and his crew.

Second, the Colombian authorities say that Ayala had two bosses: Colombia's Comba brothers, and Chapo.

If El Condor was indeed as high-ranking as believed, this speaks volumes about the nature of the Colombian-Mexican relationship. Remember, the Colombians once ran the show entirely, simply using the Mexicans as mules to transport the drugs to the US. No longer. Several US officials warned back in 2009 that the Mexicans were becoming so powerful in the region that they were now operating in Colombia as if they owned the place. The fact that El Condor was reporting to Chapo and being paid by him, rather than dictating any conditions, suggests that the relationship has indeed been flipped, and that the Colombians are now simply producers – the Mexicans are the jefes. And Chapo, it appears, is still jefe de jefes.

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