Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been officially dethroned as the most-wanted drug lord.
Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, known as "El Mencho," was named the most-wanted drug kingpin in North America after Mexican Authorities and the U.S. State Department put a combined $6.5 million bounty for the leader of the Jalisco New Generation cartel.
Paul Craine, who previously headed the Drug and Enforcement Administration in Mexico when El Chapo was captured in 2016, told the New York Post that El Mencho has an “army of thousands of bad guys.”
“He’s public enemy No. 1,” Craine said.
El Mencho, 52, a former police officer in Mexico, runs the cartel that rose in the ranks following El Chapo’s arrest in 2016 and his extradition to the United States. Guzman remains in prison in New York City, where he’s awaiting his November trial on murder, money laundering and drug trafficking charges.
Jalisco New Generation cartel has proven to be more ruthless and better organized than the Sinaloa cartel in recent years.
“Unlike the other cartels, they function like a paramilitary organization,” Craine told the New York Post. “They are like an iron hand taking control of Jalisco, and have set up carjackings and roadblocks to show their power.”
El Mencho has entrenched his cartel’s routes in the U.S., Europe and Asia. DEA Regional Director North and Central Americas Region Matthew G. Donahue said last week that the cartel is a “rapidly expanding brand” in Chicago and in the world, WLS-TV reported.
The now most-wanted drug lord had previously shown his violent side. He ordered a series of attacks in 2015 on security forces in Jalisco. He reportedly firebombed gas stations and banks and ordered cartel members to take down a military helicopter with rocket-propelled grenades, the New York Post reported.
Mexican authorities announced last week they were adding $1.5 million to the State Department’s $5 million reward offer for information leading to El Mencho’s arrest.
El Mencho’s wife, Rosalinda Gonzalez Valencia, was arrested last May. She worked as the cartel’s chief accountant.
“I have no doubt that El Mencho will be caught, but the violence won’t end until the Mexican government gets serious about strengthening the rule of law and ending corruption,” Craine said.