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Narco State Part II

Arturo Gómez Santamaría  |  Issue: January 2015

Mexican Police Officer


The Sinaloa Cartel surpasses the power of Pablo Escobar of Colombia and other drug traffickers, who shook the foundations of their society while threatening the citizenry and the state.

This grouping, in full global expansion, is the most powerful in the history of the world drug trade. It is a true transnational crime organization. Its gigantic income, international branches, the amount of people who serve it and are loyal to it, the number of jobs created in the country — probably a third of the more than 500 thousand jobs accounted for in the study of organized crime by a group of deputies in 2013 — its ability to bribe and weaponry, etc., make it a colossal challenge.

Although the power of the Sinaloa drug traffickers was local before the eighties, for decades before that they had been accumulating business, military and political experience — areas in which no other regional group had learned so much. Sinaloa is not only the cradle of Mexican drug trafficking but also of narco-politics.

The leaders of the Sinaloan drug cartel are the only sector of the ruling classes of the state of truly global reach. No other Sinaloan company has its scope and resources or enjoys the huge advantage of sharing the duopoly of the use of violence by government forces.

Being a global power that has as a matrix a local base, inevitably they seek political hegemony to continue developing. Without their territorial base of origin, they would lose their global power, which is continuously expanding. Neither the war of Calderon nor the detention of El Chapo stopped them.

The Sinaloan cartel operates in much of the country, including the very capital of the country, but the control of its original territory is a matter of life and death, without which it would disappear. Most of its members and strategic staff are born in Sinaloa and developed in Culiacan. Through its territory flows much of the production of goods it exports; within it much of its money is laundered, and within it many of its laboratories are located. In this soil is its main social base and stamp of legitimacy that has contributed to its broad cultural acceptance among broad segments of society. Its cemeteries eternally guard the bodies of the narcos.

The worst part is that it is not just another political actor but is an integral part of the bloc in power. And how could it not be so at this point, when they are already part of the economic elites of the country, and of the business sectors, of the largest sources of clean and dirty money in Latin America?

Definitely the Sinaloa cartel at this point is a very complex and sophisticated social actor in many ways. It has many facets and forms of expression. It works on all levels: lawlessness and violence, but also within the law, consensus and politics. It functions with or without political parties, violently or nonviolently, inside and outside of institutions. It has bribed mayors, legislators and governors, generals and soldiers of lesser rank, police chiefs and privates. It has negotiated with Los Pinos, the DEA and CIA.

It has been able to seduce everything that smells like power.

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