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Taking down the Sinaloa Cartel could be a very bad idea

In the convoluted, collapsing world of Mexico and its government, the battle between the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas is of crucial importance. Both are ruthless, kill and bribe with impunity, and make profits in the billions.

So why would anyone want to back the Sinaloa Federation against the Zetas?

What the Mexican government can never publicly acknowledge—if it truly believes this to be the case—is that Mexico would be a safer place with [Sinaloa Cartel head] Guzmán in charge of the drug trade.

The scariest part of Los Zetas is the fact they didn’t enter the Mexican drug trade in the same way as the other cartels. They came into it as pure killers and kidnappers. They’re also not organized hierarchically like older TCOs; they work as a franchise operation, doing business in cells across Mexico that often have a great degree of freedom to extort, kidnap, and kill as they wish.

The prospect of Los Zetas emerging as the winning horse is a situation too desperate to even contemplate.

There are whole areas of Mexico now that are controlled by cartels, where law as we know it does not exist. Sinaloa, it is said, prefers to corrupt rather than kill. The Zeta just kill. Where all this is headed is unknown. The cartels are something new. They are extremely wealthy with tentacles into many areas besides drugs. They now resemble a cross between a traditional crime syndicate and an insurgency. They probably do not seek overthrow of the government, preferring a weakened hollowed-out government that is malleable and easily corrupted.

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