Last week, Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was captured in the town of Los Michos, possibly because of an interview he conducted with Sean Penn for Rolling Stone. The Sinaloa cartel, however, will carry on business as usual: “It’s not even going to skip a beat,” one analyst told AFP.
“The capture won’t have a significant impact other than a moral victory,” a former international operations chief at the Drug Enforcement Administration, Mike Vigil, told Agence France-Presse. El Chapo, who faces extradition to the U.S., will probably be succeeded by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. “It’s going to continue to function.”
“The infrastructure has been developed through decades, and the fact of the matter is that just because they get rid of the CEO doesn’t mean that it’s going to collapse.”
Guzman has spent months on the run, having escaped (for at least the second time in his life) from prison, in July. Another analyst, Raul Benitez Manaut, a security expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, told AFP that the Sinaloa cartel has been operating normally since its leader’s incarceration.
In the interview with Penn, El Chapo himself is seemingly aware of his diminished significance in the context of his business. “The day I don’t exist, it’s not going to decrease in any way at all,” he said. Since his imprisonment, he said, “From what I can tell, and what I know, everything is the same. Nothing has decreased. Nothing has increased.”