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Arrest of Mexican Drug Kingpin Likely to be Only Minor Setback for Cartel: Experts

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The arrest on Saturday of the head of the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel, Joaquín (El Chapo) Guzmán Loera, will likely be only a minor setback for the operation, experts tell The New York Times.

An international investigation that ended last year in the arrest of four Sinaloa cartel members and the seizure of 750 pounds of cocaine did not have a major impact on the cartel, according to the newspaper. The cartel handles billions of dollars, and has established links with many European criminal groups.

Many governments say El Chapo’s arrest is a major victory against organized crime. In a statement Saturday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, “Today’s apprehension of Joaquin ‘Chapo’ Guzman Loera by Mexican authorities is a landmark achievement, and a victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States. Guzman was one of the world’s most wanted men and the alleged head of a drug-running empire that spans continents. The criminal activity Guzman allegedly directed contributed to the death and destruction of millions of lives across the globe through drug addiction, violence, and corruption.”

However, many authorities say the arrest is unlikely to end the cartel’s activities, or to have a major impact on the availability of illegal drugs. This is because the cartel has learned to outsource business to partners around the world, experts say.

“Sinaloa has managed to expand in such a way that the business can run itself,” said Samuel Logan, an expert on transnational crime at Southern Pulse, an investment and risk assessment firm. “The entire Mexican state could fall, and the drug trade will continue, as long as there is a demand.” He added, “If the C.E.O. of McDonald’s was arrested today, you could still buy a hamburger in Tokyo tomorrow.”

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