For months now rumors have spread throughout Mexico that the federal government tends to favor the Sinaloa Cartel, focusing law enforcement efforts on other cartels. Likewise, in Juárez rumor has it the state government of Chihuahua treads lightly on the Juárez cartel while going after the Sinaloa cartel aggressively. Conventional wisdom has it that the Sinaloa Cartel, headed by Chapo Guzman, for the past two years has been trying to muscle its way into the Juárez drug trafficking corridor, and local retail drug market, and the ensuing conflict between La Linea and Chapo (common names given to the two cartels) is the cause of much of the homicide activity in Juárez, which has become the number one homicide city in the world. At a function in Juárez this week none other than Jorge Castañeda, former Harvard professor, former Foreign Minister of Mexico (under Fox), and well-known writer, weighed in of the debate. When asked about it he said he did not think the federal government was playing favorites.
Diario has done a study of arrests made in Juárez so far this year to find if there was evidence one way or another of the rumors, and published their findings (click here for story).
According to their research, the Federal Police have made 31 arrests in 11 operations against La Linea, one of the armed commando groups working for the Juárez cartel. On the other hand only four arrests have been made against Artistas Asesinos (or Doble A, or los Doblados) a gang of assassins working for Chapo. (Remember the confusion about the name last February--see my entry on February 5--that led to the deaths of 15 high school students in the "Doble A" football league?)
Moreover, according to press releases from the federal police 500 "doses" of cocaine and 24 "packages" of marijuana, along with 7 AK-47s, 13 other guns, 12 vehicles, and various radios, cell phones and ammunition--all from La Linea. Only one vehicle, 3 AK-47s and four other guns have been confiscated, all during the one action against four members of the Doblados. In addition, arrests have been made by the federal police of the Azteca gang, which also works for the Juárez cartel.
Of course these number don't really prove very much: They could simply indicate that the Chapo organization is smaller than La Linea and hence less likely to get caught, or else that it is more cautious or better at evading detection. Interestingly enough, Diario did not do a parallel study of arrests made by state police to see if the evidence pointed in the opposite direction, as sometimes is asserted in the popular rumor-mill.