While El Chapo is the infamous leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, there are many others who live and work in Mexico’s northwestern border region. Like El Chapo, they are also feared by the federales and by their own families. This narcotics-fueled economy is based on a cruel opportunism. Partnerships are temporary and treachery is rampant. In one case, El Chapo was working alongside an old childhood friend, Arturo Beltran Leyva, who was running a profitable Sinaloa cartel subsidiary. The two subsequently split and Beltran Leyva was accused of killing one of El Chapo’s sons.
In another case, a former gangster was forced to kill a man in public. He then fled into hiding when the police came to his neighborhood. The cartel then contacted him and asked him to switch hiding places. He no longer served the cartel’s interests. The gangster was no longer needed by the cartel. This case has a grim ending.
A recent study in Juarez, Mexico, found that drug cartels recruit kids under the age of 18. They are unreachable, with the ability to avoid detection, and they enjoy instant respect and power. But the fact is, they do it for more than just money and power. As a member of the cartel, you also get access to high-level territory, including money and connections.