06/11/12 – U.S. authorities increased its efforts to help Mexico track its most wanted drug trafficking kingpin and leader of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, by blacklisting Guzmán’s ex-wife and son on June 7. Previous sanctions have frozen El Chapo’s assets in the United States; now these sanctions have been extended to include his ex-wife and child. According to the the U.S. Treasury, last week’s actions, “pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act…, prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these two individuals, and also freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.” This is the sixth time the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) has targeted the Sinaloa cartel in the past year. El Chapo’s son, Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, has been indicted in the United States for narco-trafficking associations with other Sinaloa cartel members, while ex-wife María Alejandrina Salazar is accused of providing material support to the operations.
The Sinaloa cartel is widely regarded as the most powerful drug trafficking organization in Mexico, supplying up to 25% of drugs trafficked into the United States, according to Forbes. They are presently engaged in a vicious turf war with Los Zetas, a rival drug trafficking organization, responsible for many of the recent body-dumps on roadsides throughout Mexican States. As their turf war has heated up, so has the public display of violence by both cartels, which have become more bold in their statements and messages. On May 31, for example, residents of Culiacán, the capital of the Mexican state of Sinaloa, awoke to find an airdrop of leaflet propaganda presumably from los Zetas. Reports indicated that the leaflets represent some of the most public propaganda by drug cartels to date.
El Chapo is something of a legend in Mexican drug lore, as he has continuously evaded authorities and assassinations while continuing to lead the heavily influential Sinaloa cartel. A 1993 attempted assassination of El Chapo by the Arellano Félix Organization (AFO), ended up with an Archbishop killed instead at the Guadalajara airport. After his capture later that year in Guatemala, Guzmán escaped from the Mexican federal prison in which he was being held in a laundry cart in 2001 among rumors that extradition to the United States for trial was soon to become a reality. Since then, he has been the most sought after man by Mexican authorities and has continued to elude their efforts. In 2011, El Chapo’s most recent wife, Emma Coronel, was somehow able to cross the border to birth twin girls in a Los Angeles hospital, returning to Mexico without any intervention. Currently, Guzmán occupies the number one position on Mexican authorities’ narcotrafficking list of 37 total drug lords, of which 23 have been either captured or killed since the start of President Felipe Calderón’s militarization of the drug war in 2006.