Have Ivan & Jesus Guzman, El Chapo’s Sons, Taken Over His Empire?

El Chapo

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman | Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is one of the most infamous drug dealers in the world. El Chapo and the Sinaloa cartel has moved more drugs than Pablo Escobar and his Medellin cartel. It is reported that El Chapo amassed a net worth of at least $1 billion during this time, however, the riches have cost the drug lord his freedom.

El Chapo is currently on trial in New York, facing a 17-count indictment for his role in the Sinaloa cartel. Among the charges are murder, drug trafficking, and money laundering. With the kingpin behind bars, El Chapo’s sons Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar and Ivan Archivaldo Guzman, known collectively as El Chapitos, have taken over the disgraced drug lord’s empire, running the Sinaloa cartel like a family business.

Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar has Columbian interests

Salazar spent several months strengthening relations between the Sinaloa cartel and the Oficina de Envigado in Medellin in 2016. The Oficina e Envigado is a Columbian mafia group which oversees and unites Medellin criminal organizations. According to InSight Crime‘s summary of multiple reports, Salazar operated at least two cocaine laboratories while he was in Medellin and was able to export at least 400 kilograms of cocaine from Columbia to Mexico each week.

While he was in Medellin, he lived in luxury and had a constant hedge of protection around him. Salazar had no less than 12 armed guards with him at all times and traveled in armored trucks wherever he went. The protection was provided to Salazar by La Terraza under the direction of Oficina de Envigado.

US authorities consider El Chapo’s sons to be a threat to witnesses’ safety

A former Drug Enforcement Administration source told the New York Post in November that “The brothers have engaged in significant violence. They have ambushed military people and they still have the resources to affect witnesses.”

As prosecutors prepared for El Chapo’s trial, they also expressed concern about the safety of witnesses. In an October 28 communication with federal Judge Brian Cogan, the prosecutors warned, “There is no doubt that the defendant and his cartel have the capability, the resources and the will to harm cooperating witnesses and their families, even after they have been relocated.”

El Chapo’s sons are ‘unafraid’ as they flaunt wealth

Despite Salazar’s US assets being frozen in 2015 by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), he and his brother still have access to an inventory worth “millions of dollars.” The brothers operated Instagram and Twitter accounts until recently, which showed the privileged lives they live. Images of gold-plated assault rifles, expensive watches, pet tigers, stacks of cash in US currency, and other luxuries were routinely displayed on their social media accounts.

DEA special agent Patrick Curran said the brothers’ inventory of material possessions is worth millions of dollars, yet they travel lightly when it comes to bodyguards, appearing unbothered by threats of rival cartels and the authorities. “They travel in armored cars but they don’t have an entourage of bodyguards,” Curran told the New York Post. “They seem unafraid.”

Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar is one of the DEA’s Most Wanted

Salazar, who answers to the name Alfredo, joined the DEA’s 10 Most Wanted List in October. According to the list, Salazar is also known by the nicknames “Alfredillo” and “Jags.” There is a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Salazar, who was indicted for drug trafficking in Illinois in 2009.

El Chapo’s sons aren’t the only ‘narco-juniors’ who want control of the cartel

Although the brothers are rumored to be El Chapo’s favorite children, whom he personally groomed to take control, Salazar and Guzman’s power is not unchallenged.

According to The Guardian, the second generation of Sinaloa cartel members dubbed “narco-juniors” are in the midst of a struggle for control of the cartel. With El Chapo no longer free to mediate disputes between the younger generation, the clashes have escalated. The violent struggles have transformed the state of Sinaloa into one of Mexico’s most violent states in 2017.