Some Crim

Track the Untold Stories

Eliseo Imperial Castro, alias Cheyo Antrax

Cheyo Anthrax’s Murder Highlights How Few Are Irreplaceable in Mexico’s Underworld

Cheyo Anthrax’s Murder Highlights How Few Are Irreplaceable in Mexico’s Underworld

The recent killing of a key member of the Sinaloa Cartel may spell the end of one of its armed wings, but does little to affect the internal dynamics of one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal groups.

Eliseo Imperial Castro, alias “Cheyo Anthrax,” was killed on the afternoon of May 30 as he was driving down a street in the south of Culiacán, in Sinaloa, northwest Mexico. Cheyo Anthrax was fleeing from a group of armed civilians who shot at his vehicle and killed him once he stopped, according to local newspaper Noroeste.

Cheyo Anthrax was considered the last leader of the Anthrax, one of the armed wings of Ismael Zambada Garcia, alias “El Mayo,” one of the founders of the Sinaloa Cartel and now the head of one of its most powerful factions. Cheyo Anthrax was also a cousin of Ismael Zambada Imperial, one of El Mayo’s sons, and was his bodyguard until Zambada Imperial was captured in late 2014.

SEE ALSO: Sinaloa Cartel Princeling Guilty But Group Has Moved On

The Anthrax was formed in 2008, during a war between former drug trafficking allies the Sinaloa Cartel and the Beltran Leyva Cartel. A particularly violent group, it was led by Rodrigo Arechiga, alias “Chino Anthrax,” until his assassination in Sinaloa in May 2020. 

Although the motives behind Cheyo’s killing are unknown, it is possible that the act may have been approved by another faction of the same criminal organization of which he was a member.

“Nothing happens in Culiacán or the surrounding area without the permission of the heads of the different factions that make up the Sinaloa Cartel,” Miguel Angel Vega, a security analyst and reporter for Mexico-based weekly Ríodoce, told InSight Crime.

In mid-2014, Cheyo Anthrax was charged with drug trafficking and money laundering by a court in the Southern District of California. In 2016, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added him to its list of foreign drug traffickers, citing his role in assisting, supporting, and providing services to El Mayo.

InSight Crime Analysis

Cheyo Anthrax was a key player with close ties to El Mayo, but it is unlikely that his death will have a major impact on the internal organization and criminal dynamics of the Sinaloa Cartel.

The Sinaloa Cartel does not have a hierarchical structure and is composed of different factions that cooperate with each other. These different parts, in turn, command numerous operators, plaza bosses, and subcontractors that run the group’s criminal activities.

This network model has been a key factor in the criminal group’s resilience. Since each person in the network can be easily replaced, deaths and captures have minimal impact on its operations.

“They are very large, very powerful organizations, and having someone taken away from them does not affect them at all,” Vega said.

SEE ALSO: How Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel Has Stayed United for Decades

One of the most telling examples is the case of the Chapitos, as the sons of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo,” are collectively known. Ovidio Guzmán López, Iván Archivaldo, and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar are leaders of one of the main criminal factions of the Sinaloa Cartel.

In 2023, the Chapitos suffered some major blows. Ovidio Guzmán was captured in January and extradited in September, and Nestor Isidro Perez Salas, alias “El Nini,” the Chapitos’ security chief, was arrested in November.

However, none of these blows generated major changes in the group’s dynamics, nor did they affect the operational capacity of the criminal organization, which is driven by a network that extends beyond its members and includes large criminal economies and corruption links.

Featured image: The recently murdered Eliseo Imperial Castro, alias “Cheyo Anthrax.” Credit: La Jornada

The post Cheyo Anthrax’s Murder Highlights How Few Are Irreplaceable in Mexico’s Underworld appeared first on InSight Crime.