By John Miller
Thursday the 21st of December, 2017
It hasn’t been a great 12 months for the cartels, folks.
First there was cartel leader, Mexican drug kingpin El Chapo Guzman, who got into a Twitter war with candidate Trump, and then found himself residing in a US penitentiary not long after President Trump came to office.
His organisation, the Sinaloa cartel, continues to dominate the West of Mexico, under new Boss, Il Padrino 2. The former El Mayo inherited the Cali and Arizona routes that his old boss El Chapo pioneered, along with the Pacific routes into Cali, Oregon, Washington, and Canada – but the cartel forgot to send their best, and one brave turtle has thwarted their latest cocaine shipment.
The loggerhead turtle was found entangled in bales of cocaine worth $53 million by the US Coast Guard, when the USCGC Thetis found her in the eastern Pacific during routine surveillance last Tuesday.
Narco-traffickers routinely drag large quantities of cocaine behind and below boats and submersibles, and often release their deadly haul when they think they are detected.
Strangely enough, this story may well have saved somebodies life, as cargos that fail to materialise because of police interception are more likely to be written off as a cost of doing business, as opposed to the cargo which simply vanishes – when bodies get written off.
The total value of the illicit drug trade is valued at 1% of global GDP, and the Mexican cartels have controlled the most lucrative slice of that since the 1990s, when the Colombians lost control of their distribution routes to the Mexicans.
The first Il Padrino was a former Mexican cop who went bad, and after he was taken down by the Feds his organisation splintered into several smaller groups, the largest and best organised of which was the Sinaloa cartel of El Chapo.
At first simply a West Coast operation, El Chapo outfoxed his rivals by being good at Minecraft. His tunnel beneath the border to a warehouse in Arizona ran from the house of his Mexican lawyer, and before it was shut down his cartel was able to smuggle staggering amounts of Cocaine and other drugs into the US.
Guzman’s crew established a strong gangland presence and distribution hub in Chicago with his ability to supply US markets, and Sinaloa today ranks amongst the top criminal organisations in the USA.
El Chapo was also quite famous for his short stint in a Mexican penitentiary, which he turned into a five-star Sinaloa resort, as well as for deluging the US with the 95%+ pure heroin that sparked the US opioid epidemic, although big pharma eventually beat him out of that market with legal products that mimic heroin.
Along with his crafty lieutenant El Nacho, El Chapo was also credited with the first Mexican workaround to provide the USA with industrial quantities of high grade Meth, after Congress cracked down on the precursor ingredients used in its manufacture in the US.
The Sinaloa cartel remains a massive concern even after the incarceration of El Chapo, an organisation of 150 arch-criminals who employ a horde of up to 100,000 petty criminals, and which spends an estimated $1 Billion every year on bribing every level of the Mexican police.
Right now 2000 ordinary Mexicans are dying every month in drug related violence though – so everybody is probably tired of their bullshit.
Il Padrino 2 is an old-school gangster who knows that drugs is a risk management game, and he probably just wants to get off the front page of the newspapers.
The Zetas – a gang of former cops and soldiers who used to act as the mercenary army of the original Il Padrino, are these days considered the most fearsome gang. And as they are engaged in a never-ending turf war for control of the East Coast, they are the most often in the news for gang violence. So they might expect to cop the most heat from authorities too – except El Mayo on his ascent to Sinaloa mob boss was quickly recast as Il Padrino – the Godfather – not the best of moves if you want to avoid the spotlight.
The 1,800 pounds of cocaine seized from the Pacific is literally a drop in the ocean of the illicit drugs market in the US – but even when the risk is spread out amongst a few partners in crime, Fifty Million will always sting. It is probably like you or me losing a hundred bucks or something.
The Coast Guard vessel USCGC Thetis seized a total of 14,800 pounds of cocaine and 14 pounds of marijuana on its last 68-day swing.
No word yet on whether President Trump is planning to award any medals to the brave turtle who intercepted the drugs.
Full disclosure: John Miller’s IRL name is Frank Faulkner. I’m an Aussie and when I’m not obsessing about Conservative politics or defending Trump I also enjoy various sports and Christian activities.