Drug-trafficking has provided cash for Los Chapitos, as the sons of notorious Mexican cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán call themselves.
But murder, mayhem and torture have kept them in power.
And those who dare cross them are sometimes fed, “dead or alive,” to tigers, according to the DOJ.
A recently released indictment accuses 28 Sinaloa Cartel members and leaders — including four of El Chapo’s sons: Iván and Alfredo Guzmán Salazar and Joaquín and Ovidio Guzmán López (nicknamed Raton, which translates to mouse or hangover) — of running “the largest, most violent and most prolific fentanyl trafficking operation in the world.”
It also reveals that the siblings’ and their henchmen’s sadistic violence knew no bounds, as is well known to cartel insiders and experts.
“They are the bosses and the violence they commit is terrible,” one source told The Post. “It seems like there is nothing that can be done to stop it.”
According to the indictment, the Navolato, Sinaloa, ranch owned by Iván, 39, was where rival traffickers, uncooperative law enforcers and unfaithful cartel members were taken for interrogations that turned into the stuff of horror movies.
Torture sessions included waterboarding and electrical shock, carried out by the Sinaloa Cartel’s “ninis,” a “particularly violent group of sicarios,” or hitmen, trained in “urban warfare … and sniper proficiency,” the indictment says.
Once victims spilled the wanted info, however, they became useless and were disposed of.
The lucky ones got shot and died quickly. The less fortunate were, according to the indictment, fed to tigers that Iván and Alfredo, 36, kept as pets.
One of the ninis, as cited in the indictment, used a corkscrew to rip out a Mexican federal law enforcement officer’s muscle, then “poured hot chiles in his open wounds and nose.”
After that, Ivan is said to have shot the officer dead.
That the Chapitos kill with impunity is a message that’s extended well beyond the ranch.
“You can go walking across the street in the Sinaloa and there are black bags with bodies left on the street,” said the source. “You go to school with your son in the morning, you both see these bags and you both know there are bodies in them. Nobody says anything. Everyone knows what they mean. The message that those bags send is, ‘Don’t cause trouble for us or this will happen to you.’”
Through a process called “cleaning,” as described in the indictment, Los Chapitos and their ninis would bring violence to areas of Mexico where they wanted to take over control of the drug trade.
Rival drug traffickers and government officials, the indictment states, “would be kidnapped, tortured and killed.”
But ordinary citizens have also been victimized.
Don Winslow, a novelist who has written heavily researched fiction about the cartels, told The Post that the Sinaloas offer deals that he described as “plato o plumo — silver or lead.”
As Winslow explained, when the cartel needs locals’ cooperation, often as drug mules, they offer a choice but not a lot of time to think about it.
“You say yes and you get a lot of money; you say no and [they’ll] kill you and might kill your family,” said the “City of Dreams” author. “They kill your kid right in front of you. If you don’t say yes after that, they kill you. Then they go to the next guy and ask, ‘Have you seen Philippe and his son around?’ The person they approach does not want to be next” so they tend to go along with whatever is asked.
And while the Guzmán brothers are charged with being brutal, Mexican journalist Jose Reveles has also described them as “show-offs, loud-mouthed and very indiscreet” and they’re alleged to have shown off their flashy criminal lives on social media.
In terms of the sibling pecking order, Iván is said to be El Chapo’s favorite and groomed for the drug trade from an early age. Sean Penn, in writing about his secret 2015 visit to see El Chapo for Rolling Stone, said that Ivan “is considered heir to the Sinaloa cartel.”
Ovidio, 33, is reportedly the least successful of the children within the family business. His glamorous girlfriend, however, is cartel royalty: Adriana Meza Torres is the daughter of the late Raul Meza Ontiveros, part of the old guard of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Alfredo is said to wear splashy wristwatches and be in pursuit of top-dog status.
Little is known about El Chapo’s namesake, Joaquín, 36, who is said to keep a lower profile than his brothers. (While he and Alfredo are the same age, they have different mothers.)
“They are spoiled rich kids who did not have to work their way up the ladder – it’s their Guzmán name that gives them the clout,” Malcom Beith, author of “The Last Narco,” told The Post.
Exactly how violent their army can get became evident when Ovidio — who is currently incarcerated in Mexico and fighting extradition to the US — was arrested in January, leading to 29 deaths. Cartel members blocked streets, set fire to vehicles and reportedly even fired shots at the local airport.
“Drug traffickers took to the streets and put the city [of Culiacán] under siege,” Beith said. “That is the power of the Chapitos.”
This article was originally posted here