In January 2017, days after Mexico extradited the notorious drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to the United States, local cops in his home state of Sinaloa fell under attack.
Some were shot dead in broad daylight. Others vanished and were never found. In all, 13 police officers died or disappeared in the months that followed.
That spree was the start of a shift in tactics within Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel, according to four intelligence and security officials, one that signaled the arrival of a new force inside one of Mexico’s most powerful drug syndicates: the kingpin’s four sons.
Collectively known as Los Chapitos, or “the little Chapos,” the four siblings were once mocked by adversaries as entitled princelings more concerned with flashing their wealth on Instagram than the grubby work of moving tons of cocaine into the United States. Yet the brothers have resuscitated a drug empire teetering after their father was locked behind U.S. bars and diversified the business by embracing a new line of synthetic drugs.
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