Los Chapitos, the two sons of notorious Mexican drug kingpin El Chapo, have begun assassinating their own drug dealers for not complying with the Sinaloa cartel’s new ban on the deadly drug fentanyl.
According to witnesses who spoke with the Mexican publication MILENIO, at least a dozen drug dealers have been murdered. And the killers reportedly left behind a signature — fentanyl pills scattered around the bodies.
MILENIO’s article was translated into English by Borderland Beat.
In mid-September 2022, drug dealers in Culiacán, Mazatlan, and Sinaloa received instructions on their phones ordering them to stop using fentanyl as a mixer to enhance the effects of other drugs, like cocaine.
“The decision comes from above, from the brothers, and anyone caught disobeying will be punished,” read the Whatsapp message that one of the recipients shared with MILENIO.
What was the punishment for disobeying? Death.
In January of this year, Ovidio Guzmán-López — El Chapo’s son — was arrested during an overnight raid conducted by Mexican security forces.
Guzmán, nicknamed “the Mouse,” was considered by the U.S. State Department to be a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Shortly after Guzmán’s capture, an anonymous 911 call led police to two men who had been handcuffed on a dirt road on the Benito Juárez highway. Both men had been tortured with barbed wire. When authorities arrived, one was dead and the other died shortly after. The killers left fentanyl pills next to the victims.
“Everything changed when they caught [Guzmán],” said the 29-year-old dealer who shared the messages with MILENIO. “Suddenly, fentanyl was disavowed and Los Chapitos began to write off even their own sellers (who didn’t listen).”
Los Chapitos’ private war against fentanyl only became public this week after several banners appeared in Sinaloa’s capital city prohibiting the sale, manufacture, transport, or any business with the deadly drug. The message on the banners ended with the message: “Beware of the consequences.”
Leo Silva, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent who worked in Mexico, says the banners could be an attempt by Los Chapitos to shift the blame for fentanyl production to rival cartels.
“Coupled with extradition of one of the brothers, it’s a ploy to take the heat off of them,” Silva told Reuters. “I don’t see them stopping production.”
Silva’s explanation does not address why the cartel would murder its own associates for disobedience if it were all simply a public relations ploy.
In May of this year, the DEA announced it tracked down and infiltrated the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartel networks operating within the U.S.
The effort, dubbed Operation Last Mile, resulted in 3,337 arrests, along with the seizure of nearly 44 million fentanyl pills, more than 6,500 pounds of fentanyl powder, more than 91,000 pounds of methamphetamine, 8,497 firearms, and more than $100 million.