None of them really. If by power though you mean the ability to influence the government etc., then I'd say that Sinaloa and honestly maybe Juarez are the most powerful. Everyone will disagree about Juarez, but VCF is still free and that is because of political protection. So I'd say Sinaloa and Juarez are the most powerful. CDG largely factionalized as is los Zetas. BLO still has protection and some power. Los Caballeros Templarios are being decimated and their political protection is being hurt too. CJNG have some local power as does Tijuana. None of these organizations are as powerful as they were ten years ago.
@anon. The "ability to influence" the govt is a measure of their political influence. But keep in mind that for most cartels their primary purpose and reason for existence is trafficking drugs.
Political influence, or at least the ability to buy protection is ancillary to the purpose. I said above "most cartels" because for some their income from kidnapping, extortion, and taking over legitimate business probably exceeds the income from drug trafficking. But even in those cases political influence is ancillary to making money.
So for me, the measure of a drug cartels power should be how much drugs they move.
Or you could use the old universally accepted measure, Money Equals Power.
Which ever measure you use, my guess is that Sinaloa is the most powerful.
Words are powerful weapons, be careful how you use them.
I disagree that political protection is ancillary to moving drugs (or other illegal enterprise), rather it is essential. When the political links collapse, the capos get busted and the cartels split up. To me this is the difference between organized crime, which corrupt and use the system, from street gangs.
I think zambadas, guzmanes and esparagosas have their own way they operate their each independent they come together to protect each other its hard to say what cartel has the most power maybe the answer its what group is more powerful because their is so much infighting is not only cartel vs cartel anymore
Whenever you mention CDS you have to say who from CDS group,cell,faction you can't really say all CDS operate the same same for CDG and Zetas caballeros and cjng seem to have that kind of structure but in reality they are much smaller in numbers gente nueva themselves have like three different factions the ones from Sonora, border of Juarez and chihuaha talking about Juarez can anybody post difrrent factions of Juarez I know there's the arm wing aztecas what else
in juarez los aztecas are the armed wing of la linea, but in the past years la linea have been affected and now is a mix of aztecas and linea, they are fighting against los mexicles y artistas asesinos(doblados por aa) they are the armed wing of gente nueva, when gente nueva don't want to heat up the things they call mexicles and aa to fight against aztecas, also when they need something like move drugs in juarez or need a vehicle they call mexicles and aa, gente nueva in juarez have a very LOW profile, they aren't mentioned in the news, the people, even they don't got in trouble with the law, like the other factions of gente nueva in chihuahua state, but gente nueva have his presence in juarez.
The one with the best cocaine connect that's who. And what capo is most all Colombians willing to do business with ? El Mayo.Zetas never could have grown more then they did because they got there shit in Guatemala cut already.
Guatemala can be a distribution point zetas have limited connections they're just happy to be independent and still learning as for mayo I would think it wouldn't be for his best interest to get that crappy stuff but if you know then no argument here
@Choco: It goes deeper than each politician looking out for himself. There is an institutional mindset, for lack of a better description, in Mexican politicians that does not allow them to think in terms of the common good. I have said it before, and I think recent events in Mexico prove this: Mexican politicians go into politics to steal with impunity. That is why they don't, as a group, support prosecution of sitting or former politicians. They expect not to be prosecuted when they leave office with their share of the loot. Politicians are prosecuted when they dare oppose the executive or go against their party, but otherwise they are left alone. Any politician who thinks differently will be out of a job.
This also why the federal and state governments are turning on the ADs. The government does not see the autodefensas primarily as crime fighters, but as a dangerous challenge to its authority. The ADs are showing the Mexican people (as if they needed proof) just how ineffectual and corrupt their government is. I digress.
The PRI was without question the most powerful cartel before the PANistas took over with Vicente Fox's election. The PRI had 70 years to perfect its control. This is why every single report that has appeared on the subject documents the participation of police and military personnel in Mexico's drug trafficking. Police and military corruption was simply the tip of the iceberg. The corruption went all the way to the top and corrupt police and military personnel were simply employees following orders.
The election of Fox and Calderon freed the drug trafficking industry from government regulation and control, and they took advantage of that. Note that the PANistas did not make any move to eliminate the PRI's structure of political corruption and bureaucratic control, something they could have easily done, especially at the beginning when they came on the scene waving the flag of reform and change. Instead, as history shows, they proved every bit as corrupt as the PRI.
The Mexican political system is designed to prevent political participation by the people. With respect to the cartels, the PAN was faced with two choices: reform the system, including reforms to make the political system more transparent and responsive to the electorate and reforms to address economic inequality. These reforms would have done more to eliminate the cartels than all the soldiers and police in the world combined. They could still do the job, actually. Or PANistas could follow the dictates of their Mexican politician's DNA: seize power, get rich and do anything to stay in power. They were not as good at this as the PRI, after all, they were in power only 12 years, but they did the best they could.
With the election of Pena Nieto, the PRI has been trying to make up for lost time. Every action taken by EPN and his team so far, and by PRI politicians and governors, has been designed to recover and strengthen party control over every aspect of Mexico's economic and political institutions, including criminal organizations. Drug trafficking contributes billions of dollars/pesos to the Mexican economy, remember.
Like Calderon's war, the PRI's efforts are more show than substance. Proof? Drugs are cheaper and more available than ever in the U.S., the world's largest market. The war has not interrupted the flow of drugs, so maybe the war is not working, at least on the surface.
But if you see the PRI's actions as an attempt to regain control, the war is working nicely. Decapitate the cartels, but leave the organization otherwise intact, and somebody will have to step in to take control. Eliminate the criminal organizations that are bad for business, and people will applaud your efforts to combat crime. Infiltrate and take over the autodefensas, and you eliminate a potential challenge to the government's political power. The icing on the cake is that these activities also distract the people from less visible but ultimately more destructive policies that benefit the party and its friends, such as the privatization of Pemex, the telecommunications "reform" that rewards Televisa for its help in EPN/PRI's return to power, the so-called labor reforms... it's a very long list.
Best of all, the PRI can use public money, public forces and the cover of the law to help it accomplish its objectives. The other cartels, even the Sinaloa cartel, are outgunned. They will come around if they want to survive. It's just business.
@jlopez. Great comment as usual. Check your email.
You probably remember the discussion of the military as a cartel that was in the paper written in 2000 (end of PRIs 1st reign) titled Mexican Cartels and Their Integration into Mexican Socio-Political Culture.
6. The Mexican Military - While not recognized for many years in the academic community, the Mexican military has been heavily involved in the marijuana trade for decades. Recent works have begun to surface which speak to this issues (Morris, 1991; Nadelmann, 1993), though many are in Spanish. A recent article by O'Day (2000) is one of the first comprehensive pieces written in English that addresses this topic. As O'Day points out, the drug of choice of the Mexican military is now and has been for years, marijuana. Seeing an opportunity to carve out a literal monopoly, the Mexican military got into the marijuana transport business as the American demand for marijuana increased in the 1970s. Bulky and possessing a penetrating pungent odor that is virtually impossible to mask, the movement of marijuana presents very different transport dynamics than does either heroin or cocaine. The Mexican military, however, has the military force to move throughout the country with impunity thus rendering moot the need to mask the odor. It also has access to large vehicles that can easily move large quantities of the bulky weed. The military has used these unique abilities to their advantage, and have largely stayed out of the cocaine and heroin business, though they do provide security for clandestine airstrips operated by cocaine and heroin traffickers. Over the past 30 years, the Mexican military has emerged as a major cartel in its own right, and currently has a virtual monopoly in the marijuana transportation business. While there is little hard data, U.S. law enforcement officers stationed on the U.S.-Mexican border have long noted, "where the Mexican army goes, dope flows." Marijuana is grown year-round in Mexico and the army has literally tons of harvested marijuana at its disposal, and even oversees the production and crop security end of the process in some regions.
It appears that each Mexican military regiment operates somewhat independently and there is a de-centralized flavor to the operations, though high-ranking Mexican military generals are clearly involved (Dillon, 1998). This would suggest at least some semblance of an organizational hierarchy, where orders move down the chain of command, and money moves up. One of the results of Operation Casablanca, a U.S. government undercover operation undertaken in the late 1990s, was the acquisition of several tapes, one of which featured then Mexican Secretary of Defense Enrique Cervantes seeking ways to launder $150 billion. Many have suggested, on the basis of vast circumstantial evidence though there is still no hard evidence, that this flow of "cannabis cash" reaches up to the office of the Mexican president. What is clear is that the Mexican military are heavily involved in the transportation of marijuana and that they will use force to protect their business. In a chilling video, aired for the first time on American national television by PBS on October 10, 2000, a squad of elite Mexican national police officers who came upon a shipment of marijuana, are gunned down by a squad of Mexican army personnel. The video further revealed that the army regiment was deployed in a strategic military context to protect the clandestine airstrip (Frontline, 10/10/00).
In the past few years, the Mexican military has become more and more aggressive in the border regions, shaking down ethnic Mexicans with impunity, regardless of citizenship and regardless of which side of the border they were on. Numerous accounts are filtering in of camouflaged Mexican military units crossing the "Rio Grande" and carrying out their business on the American side of the border (see AFP, 11/03/00). In January of 2000 for example, there was a running fire fight near El Paso, Texas between several U.S. law enforcement officers and several Mexican military personnel who had driven across the border in broad daylight. Outgunned by the military personnel, the U.S. officers had to retreat. By the time they returned with more firepower, the Mexican military personnel had finished their business and driven back across the border.
O'Day (2000) provides numerous case studies of Mexican military operating north of the border. "What is surprising," he writes, "is the open and singularly aggressive demeanor of the Mexican soldiers [who are] on American soil." In conjunction with the American law enforcement community, they are turning both sides of the border region into a de-facto military zone, with all the accompanying infringements and abuses spawned by such a demarcation. Continued movement in this direction will threaten the very foundation of Mexican democracy.
excellent article DD that link you left on Mexican corruption which I have seen very little info on its a little long but goes through the history of it but all worth reading in its entirety Thx so much for sharing that