“HEARST” for Borderland Beat 

The news publication Contralinea released images from seven old military intelligence documents which cover the Sinaloa Cartel (Cártel de Sinaloa, CDS). 

The Leaked Documents 

Contralinea says they reviewed a total of 34 intelligence documents on CDS that were produced between the years 2016 and 2022. They published images from just 7 of these documents so far, in this article

It’s important to keep in mind that many of these documents are quite outdated. Believing these documents represent their current status would set our understanding of the group back at least 5 years. 

That being said, the documents do contain numerous photos and names which have never been released before which can help fill in our current charts and maps. Furthermore, we end up getting a rare glimpse at the government’s changing understanding of the group dynamics and conflicts in recent years. 

Document 1 – CESNAV

Date Prepared: 2018

The oldest intelligence document that they released images of was titled CESNAV, which likely refers to the Mexican Navy’s School for Higher Studies (Centro de Estudios Superiores Navales, CESNAV).

Currently in the States of Durango and Sinaloa there are criminal organizations that control the planting, cultivation and transfer of narcotics, the production of synthetic drugs and the theft of fuel, which have been the main generators of violence, as is the case of: 

• The following organizations maintain a presence in the state of Sinaloa: 

-“Guzman Loera-Zambada Garcia”, led by Archivaldo Ivan Guzman Salazar (a) “El Chapito”. Ismael Zambada Garcia (a) “El Mayo” and Rafael Caro Quintero (a) “El Viejito”. 

-“Beltran Levva-Carrillo Fuentes”, led by Fausto Isidro Meza Flores (a) “Chapo Isidro”. 

• In the state of Durango they maintain a presence with the organizations of: 

-Guzman Loera-Zambada Garcia”, led by Jose Luis Cabrera Sarabia (a) “El Chepe” and/or “El 03” . 

-“Independiente de la Laguna”, headed by Griselda Eulalia Garcia Avila and Rosa Isela Garcia Avila (a) “La Tia”.

Document 02: Situación Actual del Cartel del Pacífico

Date Prepared: 2020


The criminal organization is present in 20 states: Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baia California Sur, Campeche, Mexico City, Chiapas, Colima, Chihuahua, Durango, State of Mexico, Guerrero, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Queretaro, Sinaloa, Sonora , Tabasco, Yucatan and Zacatecas.

It maintains confrontation with eight criminal groups in nine entities of the country: 

• Baja California – against the Arellano Felix Cartel and the Jalisco Nueva Generation Cartel (CJNG) for drug dealing and drug trafficking.

• Chihuahua – against La Linea-Nuevo Cartel de Juarez (NCD)for the drug dealing of synthetic product and drug transfer routes. 

• Colima – with CJNG for control of the port of Manzanillo-Conflict with CING and CAF 

•Jalisco – in support of La Nueva Plaza, splinter group of the CJNG 

•Oaxaca – a point of confrontation with the CJNG for drug dealing, drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping

• Quintana Roo – the conflict is with the CJNG, CDG and Los Pelones for drug dealing and extortion. 

• Sinaloa –  Los Beltran Leyva through the drug-producing areas (marijuana and poppy fields and drug trafficking routes. 

•Sonora- with Los Beltran Leyva for the transfer and sale of drugs. 

•Zacatecas – conflict with the Gulf Cartel (CDG) Los Talibanes and the Northeast Cartel (CDN), due to the predominance of transfer routes, drug dealing and extortion. 

There are fractures and internal conflict between cells that operate for each of the aspects: 

• Sinaloa – In Culiacan and Salvador Alvarado between cells of Los Mayos and Los Chapitos. In Badiraguato between Los Chapitos and Los Guanos. 

• Chihuahua – A fissure in the Gente Nueva cell is detected in the capital 

• Sonora –  Los Mayos fight in Nogales with cells of Caro Quintero and in Caborca with Los Chapitos.


• Two leadership blocs can be seen: the traditional one prone to negotiation, where El Mayo, El Guano and R-1 are located; and the second headed by Los Chapitos, which is more violent. 

• In order to mitigate the friction with the children of Guzman Loera, El Mayo chose to respect the passing of power to his children 

• Conflicts within CDS tend to encompass limited geographical spaces, between cells or related groups that do not reach the top of the factions

• In Sonora, in 2019 Zambada Garcia, Caro Quintero and Los Chapitos directly managed the drug and migrant transfer routes, to avoid an armed clash between local leaders. 

• When CDS groups were competing with antagonistic organizations, they receive support from other entities. This is the case in Chihuahua with Gente Nueva. 

• The CDS dominates the market, production and transfer of fentanyl, the profit of this interests other organizations, mainly the CJNG 


• The insistence of Los Chapitos to dominate the rest of the subgroups and thus achieve greater expansion, are permanent risks of rupture within the Pacific. 

• Ismael Zambada will continue with his negotiation strategy to avoid internal conflicts, with the intention of positioning himself as the hegemonic leader. 

• Rafael Caro Quintero’s side will maintain its low profile to avoid conflicts with the rest of the criminal group. 

• The conflict between the subgroups and the divide within it will weaken the organization. Especially in entities where their presence is weak or with there is resistance from other criminal groups.

 • The conflicts with the subgroups, allows other groups, such as the CJNG, to expand into territory controlled by CDS 

The CDS will continue to strengthen its logistics in smuggling cocaine and its eventual production in Mexico, as well as the production of poppy and trafficking of fentanyl and methamphetamine. 


Document 03: Groups of the Sinaloa Cartel 

Date Prepared: 2020 


Jesús Humberto Limón López (a) Chubeto, leader in the Altar region (Los Chapitos) persists in his intention to attack his opponents. 

– In Caborca he plans to assassinate Jesús Darío Murrieta Navarro (a) Cara de Cochi, head of Los Páez (RCQ) assassins; 

– While in Ures they are trying to push back Los Gigios (Los Mayos faction). 

• In the context of maintaining control of criminal activities, Limón López strengthens his network of corruption. In addition to providing protection, he occasionally participates in violent actions to counteract his antagonists. 


•In Caborca, José Bibiano Cabrera Cabrera (a) Durango, operational chief of (a) Chubeto, coordinates the strategy, deploying cells of hitmen in the towns of El Chango and El Plomo. 

-Luis Gerardo Cabrera Cabrera (a) Gero, plaza chief in Trincheras, will support the deployment coordinated by his brother (a) Durango, and will head a cell of 10 hitmen, which will be installed in the early morning of Aug. 13 (location not specified).

-For his part, (a) Duranguillo, José Bibiano’s operator, will transport the weapons and ammunition. 

• In Ures, (a) Chubeto will reinforce the cell installed (07/Aug) with 15 hitmen and 2,000 bullets for the AK-47 

-(a) Ponchis, plaza chief in Santa Ana, will send 15 hitmen. 

-Limón López mentioned that his group installed in Urés confronted Los Gigios in Mazatán and Moctezuma; and managed to kill six adversaries. 

• He emphasizes that in the context of the dispute, Limón López strengthens his protection network.

In this regard, (a) Ponchis specified that he reached an agreement with Santa Ana police officers on the amount of the weekly “quota”: municipal police of 20 thousand pesos, 25 thousand to state police officers and 30 thousand to “cajoneros” (unidentified corporation); they will also provide 40 thousand pesos every two weeks to the National Guard. 

Previously, (a) Durango agreed to pay 60 thousand pesos per week to an alleged military commander (unidentified), in order to implement operations against Los Paez in Caborca and participate in the “cleaning of the plaza”. 


The group led by Limón López is characterized by its high capacity for corruption, which is why it receives protection from security forces of the three levels of government, who, in addition to providing protection and informing them of the operations implemented in their area of operation, also participate in the detention of their antagonists, including violent actions against them.


Their broad network of corruption strengthens their firepower and gives them an advantage over their antagonists to expand their area of operation, a situation that foreshadows a scenario of greater violence. 

The dispatch of hired assassins in Caborca and Ures is due to the intention of assassinating (a) Cara de Cochi, while expanding his influence in those municipalities. 


We recommend a greater presence of the GN and SEDENA as a deterrent in order to avoid direct effects on the population. 

Likewise, it would be convenient that the security personnel assigned to the Altar region be constantly rotated to make it more difficult for Limón López’s group to co-opt them.

Document 04: Accion Sonora

Date Prepared: 2020  

Presence of Criminal Organizations

From January to August 2020, Sonora ranks 8th in the nation for intentional homicides with 870 cases.

At the state level, Cajeme is the municipality with the most intentional homicides with 247 cases. They are followed by Hermosillo with 159, Guaymas with 117, Nogales with 73 and Empalme with 63 cases. 

The Cajeme-Guaymas-Hermosillo corridor is the area with the highest number of intentional homicides, mainly linked to organized crime for the control of the transfer of drugs, people, weapons and money, among other crimes. 

The main problem is the operation of the organizations: Sinaloa and Los Beltran Leyva, responsible for the production, transfer and commercialization of drugs at retail, especially crystal, in urban centers of Hermosillo, Cajeme and Nogales. 

Competing criminal groups:

• The predominant CDS groups that operates through 9 local groups related to three aspects, in the north of the state: 

– Rafael Caro Quintero (a) R-1, has a convenience agreement with the CJNG.

– Los Chapitos (sons of Joaquin Guzman Loera). 

–  Ismael Zambada (a) El Mayo. 

• Los Beltran Leyva through Los Chapos Trinis, operate mainly in the capital, municipalities on the coast and in the south of the entity. They maintain an alliance with Caro Quintero and the CJNG against Los Salazars of CDS

• New Juarez Cartel: It comes from Chihuahua, enterings through the municipalities of Arivechi, Sahuaripa and Yecora, under the leadership of Ever Jose Gonzalez Bourne (a) El Aquila, disputes with Los Salazar the transfer of drugs in Cajeme and Navojoa. 

From January to June 2019 and 2020, the number of C.I. for drug dealing 103%, home robbery 113%, robbery 74.2%, extortion 240% and kidnappings decreased by 75%.