Thursday, October 24, 2019

Los Chapitos Put the Lie to the Myth of Sovereign Force Monopoly

reuters |  The mug shot-style photo of Ovidio Guzman that appeared as he was apprehended oozed defiance. Chin jutting out, eyes trained on the camera, the handsome youth bore a strong resemblance to his infamous father, jailed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. 

He had reason to be cocksure. In response to his capture in an upscale neighborhood, hundreds of heavily-armed Sinaloa Cartel henchmen, guns blazing, were pouring into Culiacan, briefly taking the modern city of about a million people near Mexico’s Pacific coast hostage. 

Within hours they had pried him loose from authorities. 

It was like nothing Mexico had seen before, a military-style operation that outfoxed and outnumbered security forces, leaving the city shocked and smoldering. The show of strength dashed hopes the cartel was seriously weakened by the life sentence the elder Guzman received in the United States this year. 

Not only were the new generation of Guzmans, collectively known as Los Chapitos, keeping alive their family’s near-mythical outlaw reputation, they were doing it with a brazenness akin to open warfare. 

“We’re facing a new generation of organized crime that doesn’t respect civilians,” Cristobal Castaneda, head of Sinaloa state security, told Reuters after the attacks. 

Four surviving sons of El Chapo were already regulars in Culiacan’s nightclubs and restaurants, despite U.S. indictments against them, before last Thursday’s dramatic act of armed insurrection.