SANTA ANA – It’s too early to tell whether the capture of Sinaloa cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman will put a dent in the drug pipeline from Mexico to Orange County, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officials said Monday.
An assessment of the exact impact of Guzman’s arrest by Mexican marines Saturday in Mazatlan can’t be made until it’s determined if there is a fluctuation in the price and quantity of drugs available on the street, said the DEA.
The DEA said the Sinaloa cartel is the largest supplier of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine in Southern California, including Orange County.
The drugs often are smuggled by vehicle through Arizona as well as the border crossing at San Diego and by boat along the California coast, the DEA said.
The Sinaloa cartel also uses Los Angeles as a major distribution hub to repackage and ship narcotics to other locations throughout the United States, according to the DEA.
Gary Fouse, a retired DEA agent who lives in Orange County, applauded the arrest of Guzman. However, it’s unlikely to impact the Sinaloa cartel’s operations in Southern California, he said.
“You are talking about one person in the cartel,” Fouse said. “He will be replaced and life will go on.”
Guzman may have more ability to continue to operate the Sinaloa cartel from a Mexican prison rather than a U.S. prison if extradited, he added.
BY SCOTT SCHWEBKE / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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