Things That Matter

One Of ‘El Chapo’s’ Sons Threw A Lavish Christmas Party For The Sinaloa Community And Even Gave Out Free Cars

Since the mid 1980s, when the Guadalajara Cartel became the prime exporter of cannabis to the United States first, and then acted as intermediary between the Colombian cartels and the US market, illegal trafficking organizations have become an important yet controversial institution in many parts of Mexico. We use the word “institution” a bit ironically, but there is some truth to it. Because state and federal governments often fail to provide even the most basic services to rural communities, drug kingpins, often of origen humilde themselves, are famous for giving back to their people, and then some. 

Not only in Mexico, but also in Colombia drug lords have built houses, churches, roads, clean water, schools and all sorts of basic amenities for marginalized communities. Pablo Escobar is famous for building houses for the most impoverished sections of his native Medellin. As the Daily Mail reminds us: “The Colombian drug lord once ordered the construction of more than 200 homes for poor families living in the Medellin slum of Moravia, and also built more than 50 soccer pitches. He also made his henchmen delivers loads of gifts ahead of Christmas.”

In Sinaloa, Mexico, El Chapo is revered and famous for his generosity, perhaps on par with the infamous violence he has unleashed for years. State governments often stay out of cartel territory as the population itself has chosen sides a long, long time ago. All of this comes with a prize, of course, and that often comes in the guise of social disruption and turf wars among the cartels and between cartels and the military, which results in death and anguish. 

In many regions of Mexico, cartel kingpins are basically Oprahs, and so much more.

Yes, cartel leaders love to display their wealth and their generosity. They often fulfill roles that the government is just disinterested in when it comes to taking care of the population.

As this author stated on an academic paper, drug kingpins have become mythical figures that have become fascinating to people and the entertainment industry: “Because the federal government has failed to provide basic services for large segments of the population, Mexican narcos are immortalised in popular lore as modern day Robin Hoods who distribute wealth in a more just, if unlawful, manner. The celebre Joaquín “Chapo” Guzmán, for example, has been the subject of movies and documentaries (Chapo: el escape del siglo (Axel Uriegas, 2016); El Chapo: CEO of Crime, 2013), as well as a 2017 quality TV show coproduced by Univisión and Netlix, El Chapo”. 

This is Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán, son of El Chapo and allegedly one of the current bosses of the almighty Sinaloa Cartel.

We all know that El Chapo is currently behind bars and will remain there for the rest of his life. There are conflicting reports on who runs the Sinaloa organization today. Some accounts claim that Mayo Zambada, El Chapo’s compadre, has always been the true boss. He has been elusive and has never been caught by the authorities. Other’s say that it is El Chapo’s son, Ivan Archivaldo, who truly runs the cartel and that there are sometimes conflicts in the highest spheres of the organization. 

As shown on a video leaked online, Ivan Archivaldo threw a lavish Christmas party for his town.

Credit: Daily Mail UK / YouTube

What has become clear, however, is that the cartel remains powerful even in the face of the competition from the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, CJNG, which has conquered plenty of territory in recent years. The recent find and then release of Ovidio, Ivan Archivaldo’s brother, demonstrated both the firepower and social influence that the Sinaloa Cartel holds in their home state, and the support it is still getting from the population in all corners of the state.

This event also demonstrated that the AMLO government is perhaps as incapable of asserting its authority over the cartels as previous administrations. The cartel had a lot of reasons to celebrate and they threw la casa por la ventana with music acts and dance, drink and music. 

He even gave away cars, complete with Mexican pinatas on top.

Credit: Daily Mail UK / YouTube

As the Daily Mail UK reports: “Videos uploaded across several Mexican social media accounts showed a row of at least 10 cars and SUVs lined up at the event at an unidentified town in Mexico.”

Ivan Arcvhivaldo remains at large, so the use of social media is often discouraged in these type of gatherings. But there are always a few videos that record these parties. 

And the kids got toys, and there were electronics galore as well.

Credit: Daily Mail UK / YouTube

Allegiance to the cartels starts at a young age, and kids shouted “Gracias, Don Ivan” as they got toys and pinatas fat with treats. 

Things between the cartels and the population are not black and white, there are many shades of gray (much more than 50!)

Credit: Daily Mail UK / YouTube

From a Global North perspective it might be easy to blame the population for being complicit with the cartels, but things are not that simple. In places like Sinaloa, which is a rural state crossed by impenetrable mountain ranges, government aid is hard to come by. So what would anyone do if someone brings mild prosperity to a godforsaken land? See? Not that easy to see it in terms of “good guys versus bad guys” is it?

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Cartels In Colombia Are Killing Residents Who Don’t Obey Their Covid-19 Lockdown Orders

Things That Matter

Cartels In Colombia Are Killing Residents Who Don’t Obey Their Covid-19 Lockdown Orders

LUIS ROBAYO / Getty Images

Colombia’s government was quick to institute wide-ranging measures meant to prevent the spread of Coronavirus within the country. They banned all international travel – even of its own citizens – and instituted nation-wide curfews that limit the times and amount of people that can go into markets, pharmacies and other essential services.

However, like many places, not all people have adhered to the restrictions and Colombia is seeing a surge in cases. In places where the government has failed to protect its citizens, local cartels are now stepping onto the scene and enforcing their own much more severe rules and lockdown orders. For those who don’t respect the new rules, they risk severe consequences – including death – at the hands of cartel members.

Colombian cartels are executing those who break their Coronavirus lockdown rules.

Across Colombia, heavily armed cartels have introduced their own Coronavirus lockdown measures and “justice” system for those who break quarantine orders. To date, a least nine people have been killed for either refusing to adhere to the hardline restrictions or for daring to speak out against them.

The worrying news was revealed by experts from the campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW). José Miguel Vivanco, HRW’s Americas director, said the shocking developments are down to the failure to keep control over swathes of Colombia after decades of in-fighting.

“In communities across Colombia, armed groups have violently enforced their own measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” he said. “This abusive social control reflects the government’s long-standing failure to establish a meaningful state presence in remote areas of the country, including to protect at-risk populations.”

Left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels and former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were among those said to be responsible.

“They have shut down transport between villages, and when someone is suspected to have Covid-19 they are told to leave the region or they will be killed,” one community leader in Colombia’s southern Putumayo province told the Guardian, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “And people have no choice but to obey because they never see the government here.”

The cartels curfew orders are even more strict than those imposed by the actual local governments.

Credit: Juan Barreto / Getty Images

At the very start of the Coronavirus pandemic, Colombia’s government was quick to institute wide ranging lockdown measures. Since March, the entire country has been under lockdown, which includes curfew hours with allowances for people to leave their houses for necessities and in a medical emergency. But the cartels have reportedly implemented more stringent and sometimes lethal measures across 11 of the country’s 32 states.

HRW’s report tells how in the port city of Tumaco – where local residents are banned by gangs from fishing – cartels are limiting their ability to earn money and food. They have also imposed a 5pm curfew on citizens – far stricter than that imposed by the state. 

In the provinces of Cauca and Guaviare armed groups torched motorcycles belonging to those who they claimed ignored their lockdown measures.

Cartels distributed pamphlets about the restrictions, warning that they are ‘forced to kill people in order to preserve lives.

Credit: Luis Robayo / Getty Images

The cartels are informing residents of the lockdown orders and that armed fighters would kill anyone who disobeyed them. Cartel groups handed out pamphlets and communicated with communities through WhatsApp to establish curfews, lockdowns and restrictions on movement for people, cars, and boats, according to the report from HRW.

COVID-19 instructions also included limits on opening days and hours for shops as well as bans on access to communities for foreigners and people from other communities.

One pamphlet by the National Liberation Army (ELN) fighters in Bolívar, in northern Colombia, from early April said they were “forced to kill people in order to preserve lives” because the population had not “respected the orders to prevent Covid-19.”

The pamphlet said “only people working in food stores, bakeries, and pharmacies can work,” and only until certain hours of the day, saying others should stay “inside their houses.”

The brutal attacks come as Covid-19 cases have been surging across Colombia and elsewhere in South America.

Like much of South America, Colombia is bracing for the worst of the Coronavirus pandemic. Since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed on March 6, medical authorities have confirmed 159,898 cases, with 5,625 deaths. Cases regularly climb by over 5,000 a day.

Meanwhile, nearby countries in the region – including Ecuador and Brazil – are the region’s epicenter for the pandemic. It’s only a question of time until the worst of the outbreak arrives in Colombia.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

A New Investigation Alleges That Some Of Mexico’s Largest Tequila Brands Are Laundering Money For Drug Cartels

Things That Matter

A New Investigation Alleges That Some Of Mexico’s Largest Tequila Brands Are Laundering Money For Drug Cartels

Carlos Jasso / Getty

Thre have long been alleged links between Mexico’s drug cartels and legitimate businesses. Whether by pressure or choice, several companies have been proven to be working alongside some of Mexico’s most deadly cartels – whether it be laundering money, lobbying politicians, or paying off corrupt officials.

However, a new investigation has revealed just how far the cartels have gone to ensure a steady stream of cash directly to their pockets. And in the process, they’ve revealed that some of Mexico’s most iconic brands may be tied to some of its most dangerous cartels.

Working together with the U.S. DEA, Mexico has identified tequila brands that are allegedly laundering money for cartels.

On Tuesday, Mexican financial regulators unveiled details about companies they believe to be linked to movements totaling more than $1.1 billion related to the hyper-violent Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). They also froze the bank accounts of nearly 2,000 people they allege are involved in the money laundering scheme.

The country’s anti-money laundering agency said it worked with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to identify the 167 companies caught up in the financial dragnet, dubbed “Operation Blue Agave.”

Blue agave is the plant used to make tequila, which is the signature drink of Jalisco, the cartel’s home state.

Drug cartels have a long history of using tequila to disguise their operations, dating to at least 2006.

Credit: Carlos Jasso / Getty

This isn’t the first time that criminal groups have used Mexico’s most popular beverage to advance their illegal activities – links between the tequila industry and drug cartels go back to at least 2006. That was the year the DEA first discovered a connection between tequila and drug trafficking in Mexico, the newspaper Milenio reported on Thursday.

Much like today’s report, it’s alleged that drug cartels are using legitimate – and sometimes totally fake – tequila companies to launder money.

In 2006, it was the Tequila Cartel – also known as the Arellano Félix organization – that was found to be using tequila as a front for illegal activities. the U.S. Treasury Department had alleged that the tequila company 4 Reyes had helped the Tijuana Cartel to launder the money it obtained from distributing drugs in both Mexico and the U.S.

So which tequila companies have been accused of working alongside the cartels?

Mexican officials so far are remaining pretty tight lipped about which specific companies have been accused of working alongside the cartels. However, from previous reports, links between the tequila company Onze Black have been discovered. The company was set up by Los Cuinis, a drug cartel with close ties to the CJNG, to help finance its criminal activities. The U.S. government added the company to an economic blacklist the same year.

Another tequila company, one owned by the actress Kate del Castillo, was investigated by Mexican authorities to establish whether it had any financial links to the former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, currently imprisoned in the United States.

However, no illicit dealings between del Castillo’s company, Tequila Honor, and El Chapo were detected.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com