Comparing and Contrasting Two Drug Trafficking Organizations — A Focus on LaFamilia Michoacana Gang Group and the Sinaloa Cartel

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Comparingand Contrasting Two Drug Trafficking Organizations — A Focus onLaFamilia Michoacana Gang Group and the Sinaloa Cartel

Comparingand Contrasting Two Drug Trafficking Organizations — A Focus onLaFamilia Michoacana Gang Group and the Sinaloa Cartel

Streetand drug gangs continue to hurt communities across the U.S anddespite various concerted efforts by jurisdictions to tame the vice(National Gang Intelligence Center, 2015). The membership andformation of collaborative and cooperative ties with other groupsfrom Mexico and other parts of the world such as the Mexican DrugTrafficking Organizations have been notable. Apart from drugtrafficking, some of the criminal activities of the drug gangsinclude money laundering, human smuggling, murder, racketeering, armstrafficking, assault, police impersonation, terrorism, andcounterfeiting. The examples of notable drug gangs working togetherare LaFamilia Michoacana gang and the Sinaloa Cartel. According tothe terms of the agreement (The Projects), the LFM group gave 500,000USD to the Mexican Mafia as an upfront compensation for drug proceedsand discounts on meth. On the other hand, the Mexican Mafia offeredsecurity for meth routes and shipments, safety for LaFamiliaMichoacana inmates, safeguarding distribution territories inCalifornia, Texas, Michigan, Oregon, Atlanta, Ohio, Indiana, Illinoisand Washington and other services such as debts collection (Harris,2014).

.The paper explores the similarities between drug guns, focusing onLaFamilia Michoacana and Sinaloa Cartel.

LaFamiliaMichoacana Drug Gang

LaFamiliaMichoacana is drug gang that based in Mexico. It was founded by theCarlos Rosales, Mendoza, Osiel Cárdenas, and Nazario Moreno Gonzálezin 1983. The groups later expanded and established its operationacross various states in the U.S (National Gang Intelligence Center,2013).


&quotLaFamiliaMichoacana,&quot which means &quotfamily,&quot is an organizedgang with centrally coordinated group activities. The group wasfounded with the aim of protecting drug members from their enemiesand police. The gangs operated in large groups with clear-cuthierarchy, control, defined modus operandi, including using violenceand corruption to deal with dissents. The organizations developedpower and influence through partnerships with other gangs and leaderssuch as Los Zetas, Tijuana Cartel, Juárez Cartel, Beltrán-LeyvaCartel, Sinaloa Cartel, Gulf Cartel, Servando Gómez Martínez, Joséde Jesús Méndez Vargas and Enrique Plancarte Solís. Followingraids by Mexican police and the U.S federal and state police, severalfounders and members were killed and jailed, as others fled. The gangis re-establishing the networks across various states in the U.S andis actively recruiting agents into drug syndicates (National GangIntelligence Center, 2015).


Themajority of the members of the gang are from Mexico, where the groupwas founded. However, the group gained popularity after expanding itsmarkets to neighboring countries, especially the U.S, which is themain market. In the U.S, most of its members are African Americansfrom California, Atlanta, Washington, and Illinois, among otherstates. Nevertheless, prison inmates have also been recruited tofacilitate selling of drugs to inmates in prison (National GangIntelligence Center, 2013 National Gang Intelligence Center, 2015).


TheUnited States and Mexico have been the market targets with highdemand for drugs. Political instability and the lack of security inMexico have significantly contributed to the expansion of drugbusiness. In the U.S, the large population of youth who are prone toaddiction has been providing a stable market base for the gang.Besides, the group has established networks in many prisons acrossthe U.S and Mexico, where drugs are sold to inmates. Other countriesthat have acted as markets for the group are Brazil, Uruguay,Jamaica, Colombia, and other regions in southern America (Harris,2014).


Thegang uses its secret agents in distributing and collecting drugs andmoney. Most mega transportations and distributions are done throughships, submarines, and boats. Once the drugs reach theirdestinations, they are distributed to strategic areas, mainly in thesuburbs. Moreover, the gangs conspired with airport authorities andprison wardens due to its influence and power to facilitatetransportation of its drugs to destinations across Europe and prisons(Gangs beyond borders, 2014).

Powerand Control

Thelarge sums of money received from drug trafficking and other criminalactivities such as kidnapping ransoms enabled the gang to increaseits power. Other activities by the groups instilled fear among peopleinclude terrorism, money laundering, human trafficking, armstrafficking, mass killing of individuals, racketeering, assault,police impersonation, and counterfeiting.

SinaloaCartel Gang

Sinaloais considered the most sophisticated gang in the world. The group wasfounded by Sonora, Durango, Baja California, and Chihuahua in 1980,in Mexico. The group is spread across the world and has accumulatedpower and control through the formation of alliances with othergroups across the globe.


Accordingto Gangs Beyond Borders (2014), the Sinaloa cartels gang operatesusing third party strategy. As opposed to previous gangs who workedas mafia in large groups with clear-cut hierarchy and direct control,Sinaloa Cartel strives to disguise itself the police. Besides, theteam works without the clear-cut leaders and monitoring, definedroles, violence, and reduced external or international networks,making it hard for detection by the police (National GangIntelligence Center, 2015).


Themembers of the gang come from the United States and countries fromSouth America continent. The majority of the members come from thecountries of origin. The gang has units composed of a few individualsin foreign countries to avoid being tracked by the authorities.Nevertheless, in the U.S, African Americans are the majority,followed by the whites and other minority youths. The gang has moremale youths than females (National Gang Intelligence Center, 2015).


Thegang uses its agents to facilitate the transportation of drugs acrossborders. Besides, it relies on total privacy and secrecy to avoiddetection by authorities in airports and other places that are underhigh police security. Drugs that are involved include cocaine,heroin, and other drugs that command a significant value in themarket. The drugs are transported using private boats and ships tostrategic locations where supplementary means of transport such asroad transport are used to fetch them to intended locations. The ganghas been keen to use women in transporting and distributing drugs toexploit the trust the community places upon the gender (Harris,2014).


Marketsfor Sinaloa Cartel include countries from the South Americancontinent, the U.S, Canada, Europe and Africa. Gangs Beyond Borders(2014) discuss that the increased rate of use of illicit drugs in theU.S and Europe has contributed remarkably to the profits andexpansion of the gang. Sinaloa Cartel has also been utilizing prisonmarkets through cooperating collusion with prison wardens.

Therefore,LaFamilia Michoacana gang and the Sinaloa Cartel have similaritiesand differences in their organizational structures, membershipdiversity, markets, and distribution methods. However, compared toLaFamilia Michoacana, the LaFamilia Michoacana gang is centrallyorganized (mafia). The group`s hierarchy is clear with the foundersas the heads of the gang. The command structure flows from topleadership, down to the group agents. Besides, the Sinaloa Cartelemploys minimal violence to avoid attracting the attention of theauthorities. On the contrary, LaFamilia Michoacana uses violence andintimidation as its method of instilling fear to the authorities andenemies and uses direct control of drug networks (National GangIntelligence Center, 2015).


Theaim of this paper was to compare and contrast operations of druggangs, focusing on their distribution approaches, organizationalstructure, membership diversity, and markets of the gangs. Theorganization of discussion is LaFamilia Michoacana gang and theSinaloa Cartel. It is revealed that LaFamilia Michoacana gang andthe Sinaloa Cartel have similarities and differences in theirorganizational structures, membership diversity, markets, anddistribution methods. It is clear that gangs have evolved from thecentralized type of leadership to avoid being targeted byauthorities. The decline of the LaFamilia Michoacana gang isattributed to its centralized form of leadership that enabledauthorities to eliminate its leaders quickly. The Gangs have evolved,and it is becoming very difficult for authorities to detect andarrest members of gangs that are volatile and operate silently andsecretly such as the Sinaloa Cartel. Therefore, for the enforcementgroups to deal with drug guns effectively, they must be aware ofthese operational strategies. The fact that these gangs operateacross borders means that jurisdictions will need concertedcross-border approaches to enforcement.


GangsBeyond Borders (2014), California and the fight against transnationalorganized crime. Retrieved from

Harris,K. D. (2014). Gangsbeyond borders -California and the fight against transnationalorganized crime.Retrieved from

NationalGang Intelligence Center. (2013). 2013 Nationalgang report.Retrieved from

NationalGang Intelligence Center. (2015). 2015National gang report (NGR)—FBI.Retrieved from