"Reversing a fairly robust record of capturing and imprisoning leaders of Mexico's drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), the escape of notorious cartel leader Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán on July 11, 2015, was a huge setback for the Mexican government already beleaguered by charges of corruption and low approval ratings. Mexico's efforts to combat drug traffickers have touched all of the major organizations that once dominated the illicit drug trade: for example, the February 2014 capture of Guzmán who leads Sinaloa, Mexico's largest drug franchise; top leaders of Los Zetas in 2013 and March 2015; the October 2014 arrests of Hector Beltrán Leyva of the Beltrán Leyva Organization and, later, of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes of the once-dominant Juárez cartel. The DTOs have been in constant flux in recent years. By some accounts, in December 2006 there were four dominant DTOs: the Tijuana/Arellano Felix organization (AFO), the Sinaloa cartel, the Juárez/Vicente Carillo Fuentes organization (CFO), and the Gulf cartel. Since then, the more stable large organizations have fractured into many more groups. In recent years, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) identified the following organizations as dominant: Sinaloa, Los Zetas, Tijuana/AFO, Juárez/CFO, Beltrán Leyva, Gulf, and La Familia Michoacana. In some sense, these might be viewed as the 'traditional' DTOs. However, many analysts suggest that those 7 seem to have now fragmented to 9 or as many as 20 major organizations. […] This report provides background on drug trafficking and organized crime inside Mexico: it identifies the major DTOs, and it examines how the organized crime 'landscape' has been significantly altered by fragmentation."
CRS Report for Congress, R41576