Mexico's Areas of Cartel Influence and Smuggling Routes

Oct 28, 2011 | 19:33 GMT

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Mexican drug cartels and associated sub-groups continued to polarize toward the two largest drug-trafficking organizations, the Sinaloa Federation and Los Zetas, during the third quarter of 2011. In central and southern Mexico, fighting for control of the major plazas at Guadalajara, Acapulco, Chilpancingo and Oaxaca continued to involve both major players — Sinaloa, Los Zetas and the Knights Templar — and several smaller organizations. This is particularly the case at the Jalisco and Guerrero state plazas, where there are as many as seven distinct organizations battling for control, a situation that will not likely reach any level of stasis or clarity over the next three to six months. Meanwhile, the northern tier of states from Tijuana in Baja California state to Juarez in Chihuahua state has seen a lull in violence. Battles between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas for control over northeastern Mexico continue, though a developing rift within Gulf leadership may complicate the cartel’s operations in the near term. While Gulf remains a single entity, STRATFOR anticipates that, absent a major reconciliation between the Metros and Rojos factions, the cartel may split violently in the next three to eight months. If that happens, alliances in the region will likely get much murkier than they already are.