The United States accused Aureliano Guzmán Loera, brother of "El Chapo", and the Salgueiro Nevárez brothers, all from the Sinaloa cartel, of violating drug laws and offered up to $5 million for information leading to their capture, the State Department announced Friday. The reward of up to millions of dollars for each falls under the State Department's Narcotics Reward Program.
Aureliano Guzmán Loera, brother of former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, and brothers Ruperto Salgueiro Nevárez, José Salgueiro Nevárez and Heriberto Salgueiro Nevárez are charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl.
One of the Justice Department's indictments deals with fentanyl trafficking, which is responsible for more than 63% of the 96,779 drug overdose deaths in the United States between March 2020 and 2021. All four operate in Chihuahua and Sinaloa. The latter is where the cartel was born and has long been a hub for smuggling marijuana and poppy into the country. According to Insight Crime, the cartel operates in 17 Mexican states and at least 50 countries. Its main rival is the powerful Jalisco Cartel - New Generation.
El "Guano", brother of "Chapo", Aureliano Guzman Loera
Aureliano Guzmán Loera, El Guano, has returned to the media spotlight thanks to the Americans who have raised their interest in him with a reward of five million dollars, but the man is cunning, he moves through the Sinaloa highlands and his capture is a challenge he is facing with even more reason since Chapo Guzmán fell behind bars. For El Guano, the persecution by the Americans is nothing new. On November 5, however, the State Department offered the equivalent of 100 million Mexican pesos for information leading to the arrest of the man in charge of the Sinaloa Cartel's operations in and around the Badiraguato mountain range.
The charges were filed in the District Court of Arizona. Along with El Guano, the top leaders of the armed wing, Gente Nueva, headed by brothers Ruperto, 37; José, Che; and Heriberto, the Salgueiro Nevarez, are also wanted. The latter collaborate in areas of Chihuahua and Sonora; five million dollars is also being offered for each of them. Thus, U.S. authorities are willing to pay 20 million dollars representing more than 100 million pesos for the arrest or conviction of these subjects identified as high-ranking members of the Sinaloa Cartel, according to the cases 18-CR-1840-TUC-RCC(JR) and 18-CR-00597-TUC-RCC(BGM) announced by the Department of Justice.
According to an account by journalist Miguel Angel Vega, who met and ate with El Guano at La Tuna, the drug lord is very analytical, distrustful, and frighteningly cold. This is how he described him in his book "El Fixer" (Aguilar, 2021). Just like his brother's sons, he has a reputation for ruthlessness. In 2017, an envoy of the Dámasos told Ríodoce that the Guzmáns only impose themselves with the Law of Fear, rather than negotiation and respect for codes of trust.
After his brother's final recapture in 2016, Aureliano Guzmán Loera was appointed head of criminal operations in the Sinaloa highlands. After those years he already knew that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was on his heels, according to Miguel Angel Vega's anecdote. Alfonso Duarte Múgica, a general now retired from the army, said in 2016 that El Guano took command of the Sinaloa Cartel in Badiraguato, the birthplace of Chapo Guzmán, and cited an investigation by the Specialized Deputy Attorney General's Office for Organized Crime Investigations.
Aureliano Guzmán Loera left no doubt about his personality: he gave the impression of being cruel, but in front of his mother, Doña Consuelo Loera, he was kind, hugged her, and kissed her on the cheek. The capo arrived the night Miguel Angel Vega took Pablo Garcia-Ines, who was then producing the program "Clandestino" about the Sinaloa Cartel, to Chapo's mother's house.
Several vans parked at Consuelo Loera's house and more than 30 heavily armed men with Barret .50 caliber rifles, AK-47, M16, and AR-15 descended from them. Some were stationed at the entrance of the house and the rest looked for strategic points to watch over their boss's visit. The bodyguards were young and in a few minutes surrounded the property, Vega said. Although El Guano, his mother, and the journalists sat down to eat barbecue, it was a tense moment. Suddenly, Chapo Guzman's brother asked if the Spaniard Garcia-Ines was DEA. The awkwardness grew, but they again clarified their profession.
The matter calmed down. After a while, El Guano asked the same question again and then the fear was already worrying, as he looked at the Spanish journalist with a hard look. In the end, the distrust did not escalate at that dinner, but it was enough to get to know part of the personality of one of the most feared drug traffickers. "Being in front of him, more than three hours away from the first trace of cell phone signal and surrounded by more than 30 men armed to the teeth made us feel that we were, without a doubt, in his hands, but also his silence, in his gaze and even in his thoughts," narrates Miguel Angel Vega, who has been a liaison for foreign correspondents seeking to get to the bowels of the Sinaloa Cartel.
In October 2016, a fierce manhunt was unleashed against Aureliano Guzmán after he attacked a military convoy carrying Julio Óscar Ortiz Vega, El Kevin, one of his close collaborators, with grenades. Five soldiers were killed and 10 others were wounded, but El Guano achieved his objective and freed the assassin. Some 50 military trucks were sent to Sinaloa to look for Chapo Guzmán's brother, but he managed to escape. He has also been credited with coordinating security in the area of the Golden Triangle - the region that concentrates the largest production of marijuana and poppy in Mexico - and ensuring that poppy and marijuana production supplied the demand in the United States.
El Guano has also shown his ferocity at home. In the mountains of Sinaloa, he is credited with the April 2015 murder of his half-brother, Ernesto Guzmán Hidalgo, who was also the father of Alfredo Berltrán Leyva's wife, El Mochomo, which sparked the fight between the two cartels. The reason for the reprimand was supposed that Guzmán Hidalgo had leaked information that led to his brother's second capture. However, a cousin of the Guzmans told Riodoce that, after the escape from the Altiplano prison in 2015, Chapo Guzman immediately went to see El Guano and slapped him in the face for having approved the death of his brother.
Allegedly, from that moment on, Joaquin Guzman Loera and his people retook control of Badiraguato and allegedly negotiated with the family of his murdered half-brother, including his grandson, Alfredo Beltran Nunez, so that a war would not break out. But after the leader's final recapture on January 8, 2016, El Guano retook control of Badiraguato and broke the truces agreed to by El Chapo, which led to bloody clashes in Sinaloa. Reports have indicated that he is not at all well regarded in his homeland, as he is accused of being in constant conflict with other cartel cells even though land and the lives of hundreds of farmers in the area are at stake. One of the virtues that have allowed him to evade arrest is that Aureliano Guzmán Loera knows his way around the sierra. He also keeps a low profile. He does not excel in eccentricities, but he is known to be ruthless with rivals.