The United States goes against Jalisco and Sinaloa: the challenge for Mexico


The Americans will do everything in their power to get Mexico fully involved in the fight against the country’s two main criminal coalitions.

Last Thursday, February 15, the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Bob Menéndez, held a hearing on measures to try to stop the illegal trafficking of fentanyl into the United States. The session was revealing in several ways. Firstly, fentanyl is not only claiming many lives through overdoses (70,000 in 2021), but also an increasing number of people are dying “by poisoning” after purchasing alleged medicines (contaminated with fentanyl) through some unregulated suppliers that sneak into social networks like Facebook or Instagram. A second point, on which DEA administrator Anne Milgram was emphatic, is that (according to the agency) the Sinaloa (CDS) and Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) cartels are the criminal organizations that globally dominate the supply chain for the exceptionally addictive, potent, and lethal drug fentanyl. Therefore, the dismantling of both cartels is currently the highest priority of the anti-narcotics agency.

Third, it seemed clear from what Rahul Gupta, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Todd Robinson, assistant secretary of the state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, testified that the evil current moment in US-China relations has prevented China from providing the United States with the necessary cooperation in monitoring, interdiction, and surveillance of precursor chemicals shipped to Mexico, where (according to US officials) the production of fentanyl takes place in clandestine laboratories.

Finally, it was made clear at the hearing that the North American legislators have the impression that, as Senator Menéndez put it, the current government of Mexico does not have “the will nor the urgency nor the commitment nor has it promoted the actions” to consider it a good partner, that really got involved in the effort to stop the fentanyl trade. But if not by good means, Menéndez suggested menacingly, then Mexico’s cooperation will have to be obtained the hard way.

The foregoing sets up a highly complex scenario for Mexico, since it is the worst drug-related health crisis that the United States has faced in its history. This means that the Americans will do everything in their power to get Mexico fully involved in the fight against the country’s two main criminal coalitions. Milgram was insistent that if Mexico managed to dismantle Los Zetas between 2012 and 2015, then it should be able to do the same with the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels. Milgram also pointed out which three tasks require greater cooperation from Mexico: 1) sharing information on seizures of chemical precursors; 2) dismantle clandestine laboratories with the accompaniment of the United States; and 3) arrest and extradite more criminals (24 drug traffickers were extradited to the United States last year but there are 232 on the waiting list).

The main challenge that Mexico faces in response to the DEA’s third requirement is to outline a strategy that, while satisfying the expectations of its neighbor in terms of criminal dismantling, also guarantees the continuity of its pacification efforts in various regions. as it has achieved in recent years in a group of federal entities (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Guerrero, Mexico City and Michoacán, to name a few). Reconciling the national interest of the United States (reducing fentanyl trafficking) with our national interest (reducing criminal violence) will require a great effort of dialogue and coordination between the authorities of both governments. For now, the results look encouraging. During 2022, the captures of criminal leaders linked to the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel increased by almost 20 percent, at the same time as good coordination between the federal government, on the one hand, and various state governments, on the other, led to an annual decrease in intentional homicides of 7.0 percent at the national level.

However, there are many risks. One of them, perhaps the biggest, would be that the Mexican authorities, in order to look good with their US counterparts and to get electoral leverage out of some of their high-profile captures, get caught up in some modest achievements and fail to properly calculate the consequences of some high-profile arrests. The consequences could be disastrous: the fractionalization of one or both of the large cartels, which would surely put an end to the pacification efforts that have begun to bear fruit in some regions of the country.

Source: El Financiero

By: Eduardo Guerrero Gutierrez