Drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, who controlled the Sinaloa Federation, one of Mexico’s two biggest drug cartels, was finally captured by Mexican Marines on Saturday. His involuntary retirement from cartel leadership will likely spark a wave of violence in Sinaloa and surrounding territory, according to a report by Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence agency.
Los Zetas, the other of Mexico’s two biggest drug cartels and Sinaloa’s biggest rival, are probably already planning their bid for the leaderless cartel’s territory.
While El Chapo’s arrest might be the most significant, it isn’t the only substantial loss Sinaloa has seen in the past few months. In addition to dealing with takeover attempts from rival cartels, Sinaloa will also have to deal with internal power struggles as top bosses and less prominent leaders hash out a new power structure.
The Sinaloa Federation expanded significantly during El Chapo’s reign -- within Mexico and even beyond its borders into Guatemala. Now, the size of Sinaloa’s territory will only exacerbate the extent of the conflict. Sinaloa has been dealing with bids for power and territory from regional crime leaders -- bids that will likely get more bold now that El Chapo is out of the picture.
Here’s a map of the territory controlled by Mexico’s most active drug cartels, based on Stratfor data. These borders are approximate and pretty much every part of Mexico not colored in is disputed territory. Click on any cartel territory for more info on the inter- and intra-cartel struggles in Mexico: