By: Earnest Wright | 05-02-2017 | News
Photo credit: CARLOS JASSO | Reuters

El Chapo’s Right-Hand-Man, Cartel Leader "The Graduate" Captured

An infamous Sinaloa cartel leader was arrested on Tuesday. Mexican prosecutors revealed that the cartel launched a struggle for control of the gang following the re-arrest of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.The drug gang leader was identified as Damaso N. who was captured after soldiers and prosecution agents carried out a morning raid in an upscale apartment building.

The suspect’s name has been confirmed as Damaso Lopez, known by the nickname El Licenciado. Lopez was long considered Guzman's right-hand man and helped him escape from a Mexican prison in 2001.

Photos were distributed showing soldiers in full battle gear guarding the entrance of an upscale apartment building on a major boulevard in Mexico City, not far from downtown.

Lopez was escorted by soldiers and police out of the building under heavy guard. However, he’s not the first high-level drug suspect from outlying provinces to be captured in the capital. Although Mexico City officials say drug cartels do not control territory in Mexico City, they acknowledge that drug lords have sometimes lived in the city and moved drug shipments through the capital.

In the meantime, Guzman is in jail, the Sinaloa Cartel has been controlled by Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada Garcia and Rafael Caro Quintero, two of the most traditional, old-school capos, plus Lopez, and Guzman's son, Ivan Archivaldo Guzman and Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar.

Guzman was extradited to the United States earlier this year to face drug trafficking, money laundering and other charges. He has pleaded not guilty. Lopez, who is aged 51, is believed to be locked in a dispute with Guzman's sons for control of the cartel's territories. He was also blamed for a supposed attack on Zambada.

The clash between the two has caused an upsurge in violence in Sinaloa and other states. Mike Vigil, a former chief of international operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said that the arrest is a big deal because it may stave off an internal war within the Sinaloa cartel.

He also revealed that the clash could have easily gone into a full-scale war which could have translated into massive casualties and violence in Mexico. Vigil revealed that the capture was the most significant after Chapo Guzman.

However, Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said Lopez's arrest probably won't reduce the level of violence, as he was referring to the short term.

He revealed that Lopez's son, Damaso Lopez Serrano, would likely seek revenge for his father's arrest. The younger Lopez who is known as the mini-licenciado is known to be violent, flashy and undisciplined.

It turns out that the newer generation of the Sinaloa cartel has apparently abandoned the relatively low profile, discretion and calculated violence of their fathers.

Vigil noted that the only thing they know about the drug business is violence. The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control described Lopez as Guzman's right-hand man and one of the top lieutenants of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Back in 2013, it announced U.S. sanctions identifying Lopez as a major international drug trafficker. Back in 2011 Lopez was indicted by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia on charges of conspiring to distribute cocaine and conspiring to commit money laundering.


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