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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Sinaloa Cartel


Throughout the months of my summer semester at Salt Lake Community College, I took a class called Life, Society, and Drugs. In this class we learned about the international drug industry and one thing that stuck out the most to me was the Sinaloa Cartel’s impact on the drug industry. The Sinaloa cartel is one of the biggest producers and manufacturers of the world wide illegal drug industry. They supply drugs all around the world, with the U.S. being one of their biggest markets. I want to find an answer for the correlation between this cartel and the illegal drug industry.

Literature Review:

One of the biggest reasons cartels have a big impact on the illegal drug industry is because they control territories, law enforcements, and the use of international waters. The evidence that I found came from a well respected article and author, Central American Gangs: Changing Nature and New Partners, by Douglas Farah, which I located in the library. The author talks about how during the war against mexican cartels by Felipe Calderon, the violence and fighting took a toll on the Sinaloa cartel influencing them to take their business overseas. The author states, “the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas, began to open new inroads into Central America, which went beyond simply using gang members as their foot soldiers,” (Farah 7). This had a huge impact on the narcotics industry meaning that 90% of the United States cocaine passed through Central America and Mexico due to the Sinaloa’s territorial input. With the growing presence of the Mexican cartels, the gangs in Central America had a higher presence of violence and drug usage occurred.

Furthermore, a book I found relating to this, explained that the cartels hold such a big influence over the Mexican government it makes it hard to stop them. The evidence that I found came from a well respected book and author, When I Wear My Alligator Boots: Narco Culture In The U.S. Mexico Borderlands, by Shaylih Muehlmann, which I located in the library. The author explains that the Sinaloa cartel holds such a powerful presence over prison guards that it allowed for their leader Joaquin Guzman to escape not once but twice. The author stated, “Guzmán reportedly paid “salaries” to prison officials of up to $4,500 a month, and over seventy guards were investigated for facilitating the escape. Most of the bribes to guards are made in smaller increments, to compensate for the lack of basic services such as adequate food and medical care,” (Muehlmann 36). El Chapo was on the Forbes magazine billionaire list, listing him at the world’s sixtieth most powerful person in 2010. This cartel’s strong presence in the media and throughout Mexico makes it even easier for them to supply drugs around the world. After Joaquins’ arrest the town of Sinaloa held a parade in honor of him and his accomplishments saying they didn’t want him to be arrested. The author also stated, “Despite the $5 million bounty the U.S. State Department has placed on his head, he remains one of the most elusive criminals of all time,” (Muehlmann 67). He became so famous that almost everybody knew his name, which also brought more people to join the cartel in turn for the hopes of making money like El Chapo did.

Furthermore, another book that I found relating to this, explains that the Sinaloa cartel uses strategic tactics to get what they want. The evidence that I found came from a well respected book and author, Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel, by Tom Wainwright, which I found in the library. The book explains that the cartel tries to make it look like they don’t bring harm towards others but in reality they do. The author stated, “The Sinaloa mob has murdered and mutilated anyone who stands in its path. It’s victims have been tortured, burned alive, and publicly hanged,” (Wainwright 80). Cartels create a good image by using marketing. They do this to ensure that they maintain support among the public which helps them run their multi billion dollar drug businesses. They also have a big influence over reporters. They don’t want the news of them murdering people all over the news, so they control reporters to make sure it doesn’t get out. These big drug leaders like to make a good impression on their cities. The author stated, “Shorty Guzman, who liked to strut around the poshest restaurants of Sinaloa, was known for the thousand-dollar tips he gave to waiters,” (Wainwright 91). They use their money to keep information quiet and to get the approval of local citizens which makes it easier for them to keep their illegal business going especially if these paid people will stay quiet about it. The cartels have a huge impact on offshoring countries.

In Honduras police found a huge lab that was run by the Sinaloa cartel which produced more than 400 kilos of cocaine paste that turned into pure cocaine powder almost every week. The cartels also use forrest landing strips in the carribean coast to crash land drug filled planes where they are then transferred by boats and the planes are left to rot.

Cartel’s have created a frightening image over the heroin epidemic. According to the author, “Heroin has a frightening reputation, and rightly so: the margin between an effective overdose is narrower than that of any other mainstream narcotic,” (Wainwright 210). With the help of doctors prescribing a lot of OxyContin to patients it’s provided the drug cartels to hold a higher supply over the drug industry. When patients run out of this prescribed drug they go looking for more and cheaper options which are supplied by the cartels. This means that they are benefiting from the doctors unknowingly and making a huge profit off of this sad addiction.

However according to another article that I found the Mexican cartels hold a powerful presence over the Australian drug industry. With the use of technology cartels are now able to supply more and more drugs around the world. The evidence that I found came from a well respected article and author, Mexican drug cartels and their Australian connections: tracking and disrupting dark networks, by McCarthy Jones, which I located online. According to the author, “During the twentieth century, many of these groups established themselves as the key suppliers of marijuana and heroin,” (Jones 6). The cartels are the biggest suppliers for illegal marijuana and heroin throughout the world which makes governments from all around the world want to try to close drug corridors which would make it harder for the cartels to smuggle drugs across the borders. The author also stated, “ Further, the weakening price of illicit drugs in the US market in comparison to European and Asia Pacific regions has acted as a further ‘push’ factor for cartels in seeking to franchise their profit-maximising operations further afield,” (Jones 8). These push factors have made it easier for cartels to enforce their presence in Australia, especially because they have one of the largest amounts of amphetamine stimulant users in the world. Also according to the author,”the wholesale price per kilo of cocaine salts in the United States is approximately US$54,000 and in the UK the average price is US$87,000, however, in Australia, the price ranges between US$228,000 to US$259,000,” (Jones 9). This means that due to the scarcity of drugs in Australia the wholesale prices are extremely high, which is another big influence for the Mexico cartels to go there. The cartels have created successful smuggling routes throughout the world, which makes it easier for them to deal with their wholesale of illegal narcotics.


I have learned a lot about different ways the Sinaloa cartel influences the international illegal drug trade. This research has shown me that the Sinaloa cartel holds a lot of power over certain territories and they use this to bring up their drug business. They also use violence, money, influence, and their reputation to help with the supply of drugs. The cartels use international borders to help supply heroin, cocaine, marijuana and many other drugs around the world. I can see now why the Sinaloa cartel holds such a powerful presence over the illegal drug industry.


Works Cited:

“Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations.” Trends in Organized Crime, vol. 15, no. 1, Mar. 2012, pp. 64–74. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s12117-012-9148-2.

Farah, Douglas. “Central American Gangs: Changing Nature and New Partners.” Journal of International Affairs, vol. 66, no. 1, Fall/Winter2012 2012, p. 53. EBSCOhost,

GRILLO, IOAN. “Mexican Cartels: A Century of Defying U.S. Drug Policy.” Brown Journal of World Affairs, vol. 20, no. 1, Fall/Winter2013 2013, pp. 253–265. EBSCOhost,

Jone’s, McCarthy. “Mexican drug cartels and their Australian connections: tracking and disrupting dark networks.” Arts Papers and Journal Articles, vol. 24, no, 1, 2016, &httpsredir=1&article=1125&context=arts_article

Muehlmann, Shaylih. When I Wear My Alligator Boots : Narco-Culture in the U.S. Mexico Borderlands. University of California Press, 2014. EBSCOhost,

Wainwright, Tom. Narconomics: how to run a drug cartel. Public Affairs, 2016.

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