(NewsNation) — With strongholds in nearly half of the 32 Mexican states and operations in as many as 50 countries, the Sinaloa drug cartel has a larger international footprint than any of its domestic rivals.
At the top of the organization is Ismael Zambada Garcia, also known as, “El Mayo.” Unlike many of Mexico’s top drug lords, Zambada continues to elude authorities and has never spent a day in jail. The U.S. Department of State is offering up to $15 million for information leading to his arrest.
Alongside Zambada are three sons of former Sinaloa leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. They’re known as “Los Chapitos.”
The oldest son, Ovidio Guzman Lopez, also known as “El Nuevo Raton” or “The New Mouse,” was considered to be the leader of the cartel’s deadly fentanyl division before his arrest earlier this month. That unit has made the cartel billions and likely funded Guzman’s collection of luxury cars and designer clothing.
Now, both Ovidio and his father are behind bars.
El Chapo’s two other sons, Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar and Jésus Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, are both on the lam.
Although the Sinaloa cartel is one of Mexico’s oldest and most influential drug-trafficking groups, it’s far from alone.
The Jalisco New Generation cartel (CJNG), a powerful Sinaloa offshoot founded in 2010, has grown its territory and is now considered the second most powerful cartel in Mexico.
It’s leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho,” is known for founding the criminal organization and building its prominence. He’s accused of ordering several assassinations of Mexican politicians and is currently one of the most wanted men in Mexico.
The U.S. is offering $10 million for “El Mencho’s” arrest, one of the highest amounts ever.
The CJNG’s rise is particularly concerning because of what it has been willing to do to expand its power.
“The CJNG’s rapid expansion of its drug trafficking activities is characterized by the group’s willingness to engage in violent confrontations with Mexican government security forces and rival cartels,” the Drug Enforcement Adminsitration (DEA) wrote in its latest threat assessment.
U.S. officials estimate that the CJNG supplies more than a third of the U.S. drug market today and has a significant presence in 23 of the 32 Mexican states.
Earlier this week, law enforcement officials issued a stark warning to Congress regarding the growing influence of Mexican cartels on U.S. soil.
“These ruthless, violent and criminal organizations have associates, facilitators and brokers in all 50 states as well as in more than 40 countries around the world,” Jon DeLena, a DEA special agent with 27 years of experience, told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.
His warning comes as federal authorities continue to seize record quantities of deadly drugs coming over the southern border.
In 2022 alone, the DEA says it seized more than 50 million fake pills and 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder. Approximately 379 million deadly doses of fentanyl have been taken off American streets.