Large banners have appeared throughout the narco-controlled Mexican state of Sinaloa appearing to ban fentanyl production and sales at the behest of “Los Chapitos,” the sons of the notorious cocaine kingpin “El Chapo.”
According to Reuters, it is unknown who put the banners up, known as “necromantas,” despite what the banners themselves may read as the Chapitos signature could be a disinformation tactic by another criminal group.
“Attention. Due to the incessant disinformation of some media and the obvious omission of the government in not investigating and prosecuting the true culprits of this epidemic,” the banners said (in Spanish). “In Sinaloa, the sale, manufacture, transportation or any type of business that involves the substance known as fentanyl is strictly prohibited, including the sale of chemicals for its preparation. We have never been nor will we be related to that business. [Be warned of] the consequences. Att: Chapitos.”
The Chapitos, which translates to “Little Chapos,” are the four sons of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán who ran the Sinaloa Cartel until he was extradited to the United States in 2017 after several previous unsuccessful attempts to imprison him. The Chapitos consist of Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar, Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, Joaquin Guzman Lopez and the youngest: Ovidio Guzman Lopez who was just extradited to the United States in mid September to face drug trafficking and money laundering charges. El Chapo’s wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, was also released just weeks ago from U.S. prison after serving a three year sentence for helping her husband run his criminal empire.
The banners may be in response to recent efforts by the United States government to put pressure on Mexico to stop the flow of drugs, particularly fentanyl, from entering U.S. soil. Ovidio Guzman Lopez’s arrest came shortly after some talk from conservative congressmen of the possibility of military intervention in Mexico if the surge of fentanyl coming across the border did not stop.
“This action is the most recent step in the Justice Department’s effort to attack every aspect of the cartel’s operations,” said U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in a statement about the arrest.
The banners could also indicate the Chapitos don’t want any more extraditions or fentanyl-related deaths on their hands (which totaled around 75,000 in the U.S. in 2022), but a former DEA agent told Reuters it’s likely an attempt to fool the authorities, corner the market for themselves or both.
“Coupled with extradition of one of the brothers, it’s a ploy to take the heat off of them,” said Leo Silva, a former DEA agent who previously worked in Mexico to Reuters. “I don’t see them stopping production.”
According to the Reuters article, this is actually the second such attempt claimed by the Chapitos at stopping fentanyl production. In July, a Mexican news outlet Riodoce reported that cartel members had told fentanyl makers in the state capital to stop production, followed shortly thereafter by the discovery of several bodies left with fentanyl pills on them.
A supposed cartel source who spoke to Vice on the condition of anonymity said both these attempts were nothing more than a strategic maneuver by the cartel to ward off other would-be fentanyl traffickers and corner an even bigger piece of the market for themselves.
“There are a lot of other families [of traffickers] who are mad at them because they have been killing a lot of people that used to produce fentanyl on their own and now they want the whole business for them. But I can tell you, fentanyl production hasn’t stopped in Sinaloa. And it will not stop,” said the cartel source to Vice.
“It’s too much money to turn down or turn their back on,” Silva said to Reuters.
Los Chapitos have been accused of several heinous crimes other than fentanyl trafficking, including using human beings as test subjects in their drug laboratories to see how people will react to fentanyl of different strengths and so on. There are also, according to this article in El Pais, an unspecified number of tigers kept at Iván Archivaldo Guzman Salazar’s ranch in Sinaloa for the purpose of feeding enemies to, dead or alive. The same article made allegations of torture by way of waterboarding, electrocution and other tiger-related methods the specifics of which i’m sure are too ghastly to include here.
Ovidio Guzman Lopez pleaded not guilty on September 15 on a laundry list of drug charges. Some of the charges he faces carry a life sentence maximum.