A new conflict between Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Sinaloa Federation may develop in northwestern Mexico as the Jalisco-based syndicate attempts to maintain its trafficking routes through Sinaloa territory. Should the recent death of an allied criminal group's leader hinder Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion's operations in the region, violence will likely escalate as the cartel seeks alternative ways to secure the flow of its product to the United States.
On Feb. 23, authorities discovered the body of Jose Manuel "El Gordo" Garibay Felix, the leader of a regional network of drug traffickers known as Los Garibay, along a highway near Guadalajara, Jalisco state. Garibay was found partly nude with indications of torture and a gunshot wound to the head — signs common among drug-related executions. Who killed Garibay is still unknown. But since his network made it possible for Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion to operate in what is otherwise Sinaloa-controlled territory, and considering the recent outbreak of violence between the Sinaloa Federation and the Jalisco-based cartel, it seems probable that the killing was carried out by someone affiliated with the Sinaloa Federation.Los Garibay, which operates primarily in the municipalities of Mexicali, Baja California state, and Puerto Penasco, Sonora state, recently became allied with Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, a former ally of the Sinaloa Federation that expanded its reach in 2012 in Jalisco, Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima, Veracruz and Quintana Roo states, among others. Now a Sinaloa rival, the Jalisco-based cartel relies on operational ties to smaller, localized groups in northwestern Mexico to transport its product through Sinaloa territory. The cartel's alliance with Los Garibay highlights one such route through Sonora and Baja California states.
Los Garibay is not the only local criminal group active in the region around Mexicali. In addition to its own widespread trafficking operations, the Sinaloa Federation similarly relies on local criminal groups throughout Sonora and Baja California states to facilitate the transport of illicit drugs to the United States. In mid-2012, Los Garibay and a Sinaloa-affiliated local network engaged in a turf war in Mexicali, leading to a slight increase in drug-related violence in the region. Since then, violence related to the split has occurred primarily in Jalisco state, where Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion is defending its territory from several groups aligned with the Sinaloa Federation, including the Knights Templar, the Gulf cartel and Los Coroneles. But since the Jalisco-based cartel still needs to move its products outside of its home turf, violence will likely spread as the cartel attempts to secure routes through the north.
How Garibay's execution will affect the trafficking operations of Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion remains to be seen. But any setbacks to its northwestern allies will likely undermine Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion's ability to operate in the region and may lead to increased levels of violence in northern Sonora and Baja California states, since the cartel would have little choice but to seek alternative ways to transport its product securely — whether by recruiting additional gangs in the region or using its own enforcers.
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