MEXICO CITY — The Jalisco New Generation Cartel, or CJNG, has long controlled the drug trade in nine states in Mexico's south and west. But in recent months, the cartel has edged out Mexican and Colombian rivals to conquer the narcotics market in the U.S.
Writing for Mexico City daily El Universal, investigative journalist Laura Sánchez reports that the CJNG infiltrated criminal networks on the West Coast of the U.S. in 2015 before expanding to the East Coast last year. A recent report published by the Drug Enforcement Administration or DEA identified the cartel as "one of the most powerful and fastest growing" since the decline of the once-dominant Sinaloa Cartel in 2010, previously headed by the infamous Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.
The CJNG is led by Nemesio Oseguera and Jorge Luis Mendoza, better known by their nicknames "El Mencho" and "La Garra". The gang has wrested control of American city streets in places Atlanta, Georgia, and Gulfport, Mississippi, and it's now aiming to take over Miami — the stronghold of the waning Sinaloa cartel.
While Sinaloa retains about 60% of the market in Miami, the CJNG is cutting into its share by providing purer e-drugs with lower prices and faster deliveries, El Universal reports. As the battle against El Chapo's men raged on last year, the CJNG entirely displaced another Mexican rival — the Beltrán Leyva cartel — to gain control of the drug trade further north in Virginia and South Carolina.
Colombian drug traffickers have long dominated the drug trade in Miami and the southeast since the 1980s, sharing their power in recent years with the Sinaloa cartel. That has changed in the last 12 months when the CJNG cast them out of the region.
El Universal's Sánchez reports that the CJNG expanded from the Pacific to the strategic Mexican cities of Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Juárez on the border with Texas in 2015, enabling it to challenge its competitors further east. According to the DEA report, the cartel now dominates the U.S. market, spreading to 13 cities last year alone.
The cruelty that characterized the cartel's rise to the top in Mexico is being replicated in its push to dominate the U.S. market. There are no signs of that violence abating anytime soon.