Northern Mexican Drought Could Benefit Sinaloa Cartel’s Smuggling Operations into Arizona

Metal fence along the border in Sonoyta, Sonora state, northern Mexico, between the Altar desert in Mexico and the Arizona desert in the United States, on March 27, 2017.

The drought in northern Mexico is killing off thousands of cattle from starvation and is forcing ranchers to sell herds early. If the trend continues, property owners could turn to the Sinaloa Cartel to augment their finances.

In the border state of Sonora, two years of harsh drought have decreased cattle counts from 1.1 million to 635,000, a new report by the LA Times revealed. While the region received some rain in recent weeks, it is not enough to counter the lasting impacts to grazing areas.

Local scientists predict that in the coming years, the drought in Sonora will worsen, placing the cattle industry at particular risk, the report claimed. Sonora, just south of Arizona, is one of the main drug trafficking areas used by the Sinaloa Cartel. Some of the ranches mentioned in the report are near the city of Cajeme, an area that has seen a spike in cartel violence in recent months.

The drought struggles among ranchers can push more individuals to the Sinaloa Cartel as an economic alternative. In recent years, rival criminal organizations waged fierce turf wars in the region for routes into Arizona.

According to information from Mexico’s federal government, Sonora has seen a 38 percent spike in murders this year, with the figure expected to climb further into 2021. According to El Sol de Hermosillo, one of the state’s main cities, Ciudad Obregon, is listed as one of the top 10 most dangerous in the world.

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and senior Breitbart management. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at

Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and senior Breitbart management. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at     


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