El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel thrives despite convictions against former leader

World Today

Mexican druglord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman faces life in prison after being convicted by a New York jury this week. His capture and trial have been widely praised.

Yet it appears to be business as usual for the powerful Sinaloa cartel he once ran. CGTN’s Franc Contreras reports from Mexico City.

Guzman has been called one of the world’s most powerful drug traffickers. But those glory days are over after a federal jury in New York found Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman guilty on 10 separate counts of criminal activity.

The three-month trial drew international attention, yet experts said it’s just a moral victory.

The powerful Sinaloa Cartel continues to order the murders of rival drug trafficking organizations in Mexico. And U.S. Drug Enforcement Agents in the United States are still intercepting cartel shipments including tons of cocaine, crystal meth and heroin.

Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said, “It’s an organization that is highly decentralized with various factions and clans. One of them is run by Ismael “El Mayo Zambada. Others by the sons of Chapo.”

He added, “For that reason, it’s so difficult to combat this cartel because it does not have a vertical structure.”

In Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, where the cartel is based, residents are well aware that the cartel is still in business.

Resident Gildardo Velazquez said, “I don’t think El Chapo’s conviction will damage anything. On the contrary, this will continue. In other words, nobody is stopping narco-trafficking even though they captured him, even if they’ve given him life in prison, which they think he deserves.”

Security is a key concern for many Mexicans. Still, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government will not prioritize targeting top drug lords, as previous administrations have done.

Instead, the president said his administration is focused on guaranteeing safety for all residents. This week, he said Chapo’s conviction underscored there are consequences for illegal behavior.

“Let this serve as a lesson for those who think that true happiness comes from money. It’s not about material wealth or easily obtained riches. It’s not about fame,” Lopez Obrador said. “True happiness is being at peace with one’s self.”

Guzman faces sentencing in June and likely life in prison. Still, observers in Mexico said many young Mexicans continue to think of him not as a criminal, but instead, as a sort of outlaw folk hero, whose life as a powerful drug lord allowed him to beat poverty — at least for a while.