El Chapo’s sons ban production and sales of fentanyl

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman

A powerful faction of the Sinaloa cartel has banned fentanyl production and sales, according to roadside banners.

The banners that appeared in the northern Sinaloa state on Monday, known as “narcomantas”, were signed by Los Chapitos, the sons of ex-Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

The brothers took over their father’s criminal empire when Guzman was extradited to the United States in 2017.

Analysts have suggested that the pair, who it is claimed are the main manufacturers of fentanyl going into the US, are using the signs to shift the blame for the drug’s production on to others.

The banners read: “The sale, manufacture, transportation or any type of business involving the substance known as fentanyl is strictly prohibited in Sinaloa.”

It is unclear who put up the banners, festooned to bridges and overpasses, but experts doubted the group would leave such a profitable business.

The banners appeared at a time when US authorities are ramping up pressure on Mexico to take action against crime groups involved in fentanyl production.

This year, the US government portrayed Los Chapitos, or “little Chapos”, as the principal providers of fentanyl into the United States. Last month, Ovidio Guzman, the youngest of the four Los Chapitos brothers, was extradited to the US.

Leo Silva, a former US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent who worked in Mexico, said the banners were likely an attempt by Los Chapitos to shift the blame for fentanyl production. “Coupled with the extradition of one of the brothers, it’s a ploy to take the heat off of them,” Silva said. “I don’t see them stopping production.”

In July, Sinaloan investigative outlet Riodoce reported that Los Chapitos had told producers in Culiacan, the state capital, to stop manufacturing fentanyl. Soon afterwards, bodies were discovered of men who had been tortured and had fentanyl pills dumped on them, in an apparent signal to others.

It was also unclear if Los Chapitos could enact such a ban across Sinaloa, as much of the territory is controlled by El Chapo’s old partner, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, who runs another powerful grouping of the cartel.

Silva doubted Los Chapitos would stay away from fentanyl.

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