Spies Inside Sinaloa Cartel Strengthen US Case against Los Chapitos
By KELIN DILLON
Just days after U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced sweeping federal indictments against the four sons of notorious Mexican organized crime boss and former Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán for their alleged role in trafficking fentanyl into the United States, new reports reveal that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) case is expected to be bolstered by testimonies from three cartel-infiltrating spies, who had purportedly been reporting to the DEA from the inside of the Sinaloa cartel since 2017.
According to the United States’ extradition request for El Chapo’s son Ovidio “El Ratón” Guzmán López, the DEA’s secret allies within the Sinaloa Cartel include a member of El Ratón’s security team Miguel Alonso Payán, narcotics distributor Juan Carlos Arce Cabrera and an unnamed third spy who purportedly oversaw the organized crime group’s warehouses in California.
The three infiltrators reportedly provided photographic evidence and personal testimony to the DEA between 2017 and 2022, while also supposedly allowing the U.S. agency to monitor their digital and telephone activity.
Payán’s intel was particularly revealing given his role in the surveillance of Sinaloa’s fentanyl laboratory, with Payán alleging that the Sinaloa cartel moves up to 500,000 fentanyl pills into the United States each and every month as well as pointing the DEA to the town of Aguapetito, Navolato, where the Sinaloa cartel purportedly manufactured large quantities of drugs in a secret belowground facility.
“The entrance to the laboratory would be covered with earth and branches, and it had equipment like stoves and presses with the capacity to make kilos of fentanyl pills,” Payán told the DEA. “From there, 400,000 to 500,000 fentanyl pills were sent in small planes to the U.S. border.”
Payán personally provided the DEA with photographic evidence of the Sinaloa cartel’s fentanyl laboratories, cash and buses loaded with fentanyl, as well as photos of Payán using cartel-provided weaponry, until he ceased working with the Mexican drug-trafficking organization in 2021.
While the lawyer for El Chapo’s four sons declined to comment on the family’s indictments in the United States, the case against the so-called Los Chapitos is expected to bring the true nature of fentanyl production in Mexico and the substance’s subsequent trafficking into the United States – the existence of which Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has vehemently denied – to public light.