This segment originally aired Jan. 24, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
The Sinaloa drug cartel is the largest cartel in the world, and it’s estimated to rake in $3 billion a year. VICE News visited Mexico’s Golden Triangle, the stronghold of the Sinaloa cartel, just days before the extradition of drug lord El Chapo.
A decade ago, Mexico declared war on the country’s drug cartels, deploying the military to dismantle them. That means destroying their drug crops.
“They do the destruction by hand and also with fumigation with air force planes,” Cmdr. Cesar Augusto Bonilla told VICE News in the “Golden Triangle,” which is notorious for its marijuana and poppy production. “They collect everything that’s been destroyed, and continue to incinerate it.”
These types of raids are supposed to cut into the cartel’s profits, just as the arrest of kingpins like El Chapo are supposed to cripple trafficking networks by removing their top commanders. But even after his decade-long imprisonment, and now as he faces extradition, the organization El Chapo built is very much intact.
“Nothing has changed here,” the local boss said. “Drug trafficking will never end.”