QUITO – A suspected member of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel and eight other people were arrested during an anti-drug operation in Ecuador, the National Police said.
Four of the nine suspects detained in the operation are Mexican nationals.
The suspects belong to a transnational criminal organization that smuggles drugs by sea from Ecuador to Mexico, the National Police said.
Searches were conducted this week at houses in several cities on Ecuador’s coast, and investigators also searched a ranch in Jumon, a town in El Oro province, where they seized 456 kilos of cocaine and $276,567 in cash, the National Police said.
The gang’s leader, identified only as Manuel de Jesus A. A., is suspected of “having links to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel,” the law enforcement agency said.
The Sinaloa drug cartel is led by Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, the world’s most-wanted drug trafficker.
Guzman, who is Mexico’s most-wanted man and is ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the world’s richest people, has been on the list of U.S. drug kingpins since June 1, 2001.
The Sinaloa organization, sometimes referred to by Mexican officials as the Pacific cartel, is the oldest drug cartel in Mexico and has an extensive drug distribution network in the United States.
Guzman, who was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western state of Jalisco on Jan. 19, 2001, is considered the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.
The Sinaloa cartel, according to intelligence agencies, is a transnational business empire that operates in the United States, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Americas and Asia. EFE