Where is the Sinaloa Federation located?
Well the Sinaloa cartel really, well, it's based out of Sinaloa. But it really is a cartel that has a nationwide exposure and presence. It reaches really all the way down to South America, up through Central America and southern Mexico, into its home base of Sinaloa and then up to the border. Currently it controls most of the border from Juarez all the way west to Tijuana.
How did the Sinaloa Federation evolve into the organization it is now?
Well the Sinaloa cartel really was a successor organization to the Guadalajara cartel. The leader of the Guadalajara cartel, who was a very powerful trafficker, a guy by the name of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, "El Padrino." When he was arrested and taken out of the picture, he kind of bequeathed his kingdom to some of his lieutenants. One of those lieutenants was a young man who worked in logistics by the name of Joaquin Guzman Loera, a guy who has become known as "El Chapo," or "the shorty." He became very successful and working with several partners. That's one of the reasons we call the Sinaloa Federation really a federation and not just a cartel because we have several different organizations that have banded together with El Chapo's core organization to encompass this Sinaloa group.
How is the Sinaloa Federation different from other Mexican cartels?
Currently in Mexico when we look at the groups that are out there, the difference really is that Joaquin Guzman, "El Chapo," had that direct connection back to Felix Gallardo and really the first generation of Mexican big-time cartel leaders. And so there's kind of that connection there and also he's kind of kept in his group, especially the leadership, has kind of kept that ethic more or less and that concept. So many times they are kind of critical of Los Zetas and some of the other groups. So when they do other crimes, whether it's alien smuggling, DVD and CD piracy, oil bunkering, those sorts of things, basically El Chapo would consider that beneath him.
What does Stratfor see for the Sinaloa Federation in the future?
Well one of the things we're watching obviously is Sinaloa because they are very powerful and widespread. At this point we really don't see any indication of them losing traction in a big way. Currently they're being challenged in the north of Sinaloa by some of the remnants of one of the organizations that actually started with the Sinaloa Federation and that was a group of guys called the Beltran Leyva brothers. After there was a series of arrests and deaths hitting the Beltran Leyva Organization, they kind of split into some smaller groups. And right now we're seeing one of the smaller groups, Los Mazatlecos, pose a threat to Sinaloa in northern Sinaloa, basically in the Sierra Madre there, which is a place where they grow a lot of their opium for heroin and also marijuana.