By Reuters/The New York Times. CULIACAN/MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s public enemy No. 1, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was nabbed last week after a gunfight and high speed getaway bid. But his more discreet partner is flourishing, moving tonnes of drugs to the United States and laundering the profits at home.
Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada jointly heads the powerful Sinaloa cartel and, with Guzman behind bars again and facing possible extradition to the United States, it falls to Zambada to maintain the gang’s ranking as the world’s largest.
In the past few years, Mexican security forces have captured or killed almost all the leading kingpins who had dominated drug trafficking over the last two decades. Guzman, the most prominent of all, was recaptured on Friday, six months after his second escape from maximum security prison.
That leaves Zambada, 68, as the most senior capo still standing.
“He is the patriarch,” said Antonio Mazzitelli, the U.N. representative on drugs and crime in Mexico.