Almost as soon as Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was arrested after a 13-year manhunt, young drug dealers began campaigns to take his place – a sign that the group, responsible for 25 percent of all illegal drugs smuggled into the U.S., might not be headless for long, McClatchy Newspapers reports. As the internal jockeying intensified, experts predicted that the arrest of the legendary crime boss would prove a watershed event likely to usher in the breakup of Mexico's huge crime syndicates.
“The fragmentation we've seen here in Colombia will be replicated in Mexico,” said Jeremy McDermott, a former British army officer based in Medellin, Colombia, who's a co-director of InSightCrime, a research group. “The capture of Chapo will accelerate that process in Mexico of criminal fragmentation. The days of big cartels are gone.” Potential rivals are watching closely to see whether they might make a move on Sinaloa Cartel turf or on its leadership, said Sylvia Longmire, a security consultant who wrote the 2011 book “Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico's Drug War.” “There will be a lot of wait-and-see going on by a lot of groups: rivals like Los Zetas, smaller trafficking groups that are members of the federation who are weighing their options, and cocaine suppliers who want to make sure the federation is a stable client,” she said.