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Mexican drug trade now ruled by two cartels

"El Chapo" Guzman has a fight on his hands

After nearly four years  and 40,000 dead, Mexican president Felipe Calderón’s offensive against the five major drug cartels in his country has left two of them dominating the market.

While other organizations have been hampered or fragmented by the arrest or killing of their leaders, the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel have taken advantage of the situation to step into the gap and expand their operations, according to narcotrafficking expert Jorge Chabat.

“The two that have survived are absorbing elements of the others”, he said.

Chabat also noted that the two which now dominate most of Mexico are known for their extreme violence, and that the trend is not improving.  Last week 35 bodies bearing signs of torture were dumped in the streets of Veracruz during rush hour.  Authorities attributed that massacre to the Zetas, who are composed of military veterans recruited from the Mexican Special Forces.   The victims are thought to have ties with the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Last May over two dozen people, most of whom were suspected Zetas, were murdered while allegedly attempting to infiltrate Sinaloa Cartel territory in the Pacific coastal state of Nayarit.

Upon taking power in December of 2006, President Calderon launched a national offensive that deployed thousands of soldiers across the country. At that time the Zetas operated as the armed branch of the Gulf Cartel, before breaking ties in 2010 in a bloody fight that left the Zetas dominating that region.

According to Chabat, in their battle for control of seaports the Zetas and Sinaloa Cartel are unlikely to come to any agreement to divide the country, but rather expected to continue escalating their violent tactics.