The Sinaloa Federation, also known as the Pacific cartel or Golden Triangle Alliance, is primarily involved in the smuggling of Colombian cocaine, Mexican marijuana and methamphetamine, and Mexican and Southeast Asian heroin into the US. In the late 1980s, the DEA believed the Federation was the largest DTO in Mexico. By the mid-1990s, it was believed to be the size of the Colombian Medellin cartel in its heyday. By 2006, the Federation had virtually complete control of the Mexico-Arizona border plazas. In early 2008, the cartel allegedly split into a number of warring factions, including the now-independent Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO).
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera took leadership of the Federation in 1995 after his partner and then-leader was arrested by the Mexican army. Guzman Loera was himself imprisoned until 2001, but escaped and resumed control of the cartel. He has since formed a partnership with Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia and Javier Torres Felix.
The Sinaloa Federation has been battling the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO) for control of the Tijuana plaza since the early 1990s. This battle has recently hit a fever pitch with the Sinaloa backing of a former AFO lieutenant and current rival Teodoro “El Teo” Garcia Simental. The majority of recent violence in northern Baja California state has been a result of Garcia Simental’s attempts to take control of the Tijuana plaza with Federation support.
(Chart below by Strategic Forecasting)