MEXICO CITY – The man who reportedly succeeded Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman as the leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel has been arrested by the security forces in Mexico City, officials said Tuesday.
Damaso Lopez Nuñez was detained in Anzures, an upscale neighborhood in the Mexican capital.
The Sinaloa cartel leader was captured in a joint operation staged by the Attorney General’s Office and the army, the AG’s office said in a statement.
The suspect, known as “El Licenciado” (The College Graduate), was moved on Tuesday morning from the Hares building in Anzures to the AG’s office by a security detail that included about 15 Criminal Investigations Agency (AIC) members and soldiers.
Lopez Nuñez was considered Guzman’s successor as leader of the powerful cartel following El Chapo’s capture in Los Mochis, a city in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, in January 2016.
Reports said Lopez Nuñez, who was Guzman’s right-hand man, was in the best position within the criminal organization to take the top spot.
Lopez Nuñez, however, got into a power struggle with El Chapo’s sons and Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, who shared the Sinaloa cartel’s leadership with Guzman, who was extradited to the US on Jan. 19.
The war for control of the cartel between Lopez Nuñez and Guzman’s sons has left at least 500 people dead this year.
On April 12, three bodies were dropped from a small plane in Eldorado, a suburb of Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa and an area controlled by the Lopez Nuñez faction of the cartel.
El Chapo Guzman’s sons, Jesus Alfredo and Ivan Archivaldo, published a letter two months earlier in which they revealed that they had been wounded while traveling with Zambada in a hit ordered by Lopez Nuñez.
The Sinaloa cartel, sometimes referred to by Mexican officials as the Pacific cartel, is the oldest drug cartel in Mexico.
The Sinaloa organization, according to intelligence agencies, is a transnational business empire that operates in the United States, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Americas and Asia.