However the high-profile federal prosecution in New York is a largely symbolic victory for authorities in Mexico and the US, the place the cartel — primarily based within the Mexican state of Sinaloa — continues to regulate most main narcotics markets.
“The Sinaloa cartel continues to be principally working with the identical energy and attain,” stated Mike Vigil, former chief of worldwide operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration. “They proceed to be probably the most highly effective drug group on the planet.”
Guzmán, a founding father of the cartel named for his house state, was captured in Mexico in January 2016 and extradited to the US a 12 months later.
However his prison enterprise, which has lengthy benefited from a extra horizontal management construction he helped put in place, has continued to prosper, specialists stated.
In his absence, the cartel’s day-to-day operations have been largely dealt with by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, a longtime affiliate of Guzmán’s.
At trial, protection legal professionals argued that Zambada — who was additionally named within the superseding indictment towards Guzmán — bribed the Mexican authorities to border El Chapo and stay free to run the cartel.
“El Mayo Zambada and Sinaloa have continued and thrived and flourished,” stated Bruce Bagley, a College of Miami skilled on Mexico’s cartels who has adopted the trial.
“The truth that you knock off a kingpin like El Chapo — which he clearly was — doesn’t imply that you simply finish the group or in any means severely debilitate it.”
The sensational 2½-month trial featured beautiful testimony about corruption at practically each echelon of Mexico’s authorities, from police and navy commanders to native and state officers to former presidents who vehemently denied the allegations.
That corruption didn’t finish with Guzmán’s seize. It nonetheless greases the cartel’s profitable operations.
“It is a affirmation of the huge widespread bribery and factors to the issue the US authorities below (Presidents) George W. Bush, below (Barack) Obama and now (Donald) Trump have to find workable companions,” Bagley stated.
“With or with out El Chapo, these traces of bribery, these traces of corruption, lengthen into each political celebration at each stage of the Mexican authorities.”
Ray Donovan, the DEA particular agent who spearheaded the 22-agency effort that led to Guzmán’s seize, advised CNN that the Sinaloa cartel nonetheless provides the overwhelming majority of US drug markets.
“In actual fact, Chapo’s sons are actually risen by the ranks of the Sinaloa cartel and brought over Chapo’s finish of the group,” he stated.
Bagley stated Guzmán and Zambada have allowed higher autonomy to an estimated 120 smaller cartel-affiliated organizations referred to as “cartelitos.” That has made maintaining observe of them tougher for legislation enforcement authorities.
The cartel additionally has an rising rival
“It is a symbolic victory,” he stated of Guzmán’s prosecution. “It isn’t going to have an effect on the way forward for Sinaloa. The underside line is that there are a whole lot of different individuals ready within the wings. The jockeying has already begun.
Zambada, in his 70s, is taken into account the final of the old-school Mexican drug capos.
“He’s very revered by the rank and file of the Sinaloa cartel and different cartel leaders,” stated Vigil, who spent greater than a dozen years working with the DEA in Mexico and alongside the border.
“He is not in the most effective of well being and if Mayo Zambada dies or if he is captured, that may severely cripple the Sinaloa cartel as a result of Chapo Guzmán’s sons have by no means gotten their palms soiled. They’re what we name ‘narco juniors.’ They’re good at spending their father’s cash however are hardly able to working the cartel.”
And Sinaloa has a formidable rival. The Jalisco New Era cartel has been one of many world’s fastest-growing drug organizations since its break up from Guzmán’s group in 2010, in keeping with a DEA evaluation. Rubén Oseguera Cervantes, often called “El Mencho,” is its chief.
Consultants say the one definitely of Guzmán’s downfall is extra drug violence.
“There’s going to be extra bloodshed,” Bagley stated. “Each time there are these transitions … there’s a interval of adjustment. It is typically fairly bloody, however they kind issues out as a result of they’ve each incentive to take action.”
CNN’s Mark Morales contributed to this report.