The bloody drug war in Mexico has been raging for over eight years now, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of cartel soldiers as well as innocent civilians. Recently, Joaquin Guzman, otherwise known as El Chapo, was caught by Mexican authorities; many protesters have displayed anger over his imprisonment.
Hundreds of these angry citizens marched in streets of Culiacan, located in the Sinaloa region of Mexico; the hub of the Sinaloa cartel. The protesters are angered by Guzman’s capture mainly because cartel activity provided jobs for many of the poor in the mountainous Sinaloa region. Signs among the crowd illustrated their anger. One said “We Want Chapo Free.”
Currently, El Chapo is awaiting possible extradition to the United States for trafficking activity linked to several major American cities.
The fallout from the loss of leadership within the Sinaloa cartel could threaten economic activity in the Sinaloa region as a whole; a sad reality in a region where 74% of its residents suffer from poverty. Despite the presence of mass poverty in the region, freshly painted houses dot the countryside, mainly from the work of the cartel foot soldiers.
The residents fear the possibility of hardship if they lose the support the drug trade provides to the agricultural sector of the region. The economic support by the drug trade felt in the region is typified by the mythical status El Chapo reached among the locals. He is viewed as a hero rather than a vicious murderer.
Some draw parallels to him and a 20th century Mexican folk hero by the name of Jesus Malverde, a bandit who shared his wealth with the poor of the region.
El Chapo’s future remains uncertain as he awaits possible extradition to the U.S. Leads provided by the cell phone of his assistant, Carlos Manuel Hoo Ramirez, after his capture, eventually led authorities to the Mazatlan region of Mexico, where Guzman was evading arrest.
Some experts fear severe fallout from the drug lord’s capture. There is a possibility of an increase in violence rather than a decrease. A bloody turf war is not out of the question for many. The end result could be something similar to the previous administration’s “Kingpin Strategy,” where the focus on killing cartel drug lords led to the splintering of cartels into smaller groups that relied on more sinister and violent strategies to maintain control of their respective regions.
The drug war just beyond the United States’ southern border is a tragedy unfolding before our eyes. The majority of drugs manufactured and shipped by the cartels cross over into U.S. territory to satisfy an insatiable appetite for drugs.
The U.S. must create new policy initiatives to address this problem. Such policy changes would curb demand of illicit drugs, which seems to be the only way to reduce the manufacture of drugs and the subsequent violence associated with the illicit drug industry.
– Zachary Lindberg
Sources: Los Angeles Times