DEA: Cartel active in Arizona ‘No. 1 target,’ even with El Chapo conviction

Feb 13, 2019, 4:54 AM | Updated: 6:59 pm
In this courtroom drawing, defendant Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, second from left, listens to the ju...

In this courtroom drawing, defendant Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, second from left, listens to the judge while staring at the jury as the verdict is read in his drug trafficking trail, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019 in New York. The notorious Mexican drug lord was convicted of drug-trafficking charges, Tuesday. Seated at the defense table, from left are, an interpreter, Guzman, and defense attorneys William Purpura and Eduardo Balarezo. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

(Elizabeth Williams via AP)

PHOENIX — Even though Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is likely off to federal prison for ten drug-related convictions, the Drug Enforcement Administration said the Sinaloa cartel is still its “No. 1 target by far.”

The illegal drug paths across the Arizona border from Mexico are “almost completely controlled by Sinaloa cartel leadership and cell heads,” Doug Coleman, DEA special agent-in-charge in Arizona, said.

He said Sinaloa has trafficked millions of pounds of methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl over 30 years.

With Guzman away, the DEA is taking advantage by going after his operatives.

“Every time we take off a leadership member, it causes an instability in that organization,” Coleman said.

“Then, DEA agents in Arizona are there to exploit that vulnerability.”

In recent years, the DEA has arrested over 1,000 Sinaloa agents in Arizona.

The DEA blames El Chapo and his cartel for America’s opioid crisis.

In Arizona last year, “we seized enough fentanyl to kill roughly 80-100 million Americans,” Coleman said.

“Fentanyl trafficking is coming across the Southwest border in large amounts, directly tied to the Sinaloa cartel,” he added.

Coleman blames Sinaloa for moving millions of pounds of methamphetamine and heroin from Mexico through Arizona over the years, but said fentanyl is moving faster.

“Fentanyl is coming across in significant quantities,” Coleman said.

“It’s a very powerful drug that comes across in smaller quantities than some of the others.”

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DEA: Cartel active in Arizona ‘No. 1 target,’ even with El Chapo conviction