On August 2, 2020, Mexican security forces captured the elusive leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Gang: Jose Antonio Yepez Ortiz. The Sledgehammer, as he is known, will be incarcerated at the Altiplano Penitentiary, the same facility that housed Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman before a widely-publicized escape in 2015. Although the arrest is a significant accomplishment for the Mexican government, it is unlikely to stem the growing tide of violence across the country. The Santa Rosa de Lima Gang has been largely inactive in criminal activities due to repeated defeats at the hands of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel in June.
The silent war in Mexico between organized criminal organizations and the government has resulted in an untold number of dead. Although government officials, newsmen, and non-government organization's claim that progress is being made in the push for peace, nothing could be further from the truth. In 2019 alone, 35,000 murders relating to cartel violence occurred, while nearly 243,000 lives have been taken over the past ten years. Although US citizens regularly travel to Mexico City and coastal resorts for vacation, most do not know that the United States Department of State has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory (Do Not Travel) for the majority of the country. Other nation-states with Level 4 Travel Advisories include North Korea, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Central African Republic.
In his 2018 campaign, Mexican President Lopez Obrador vowed to bring down violence levels in underserved areas. Under his leadership, however, government authority has continued to decrease while cartel power continues to rise. This reality manifested itself in October of 2019, when Mexican authorities chose to release the son of “El Chapo” Guzmán, a blood thirsty criminal, when faced with potential retaliation from the cartels. Instead of prosecuting him for well-known crimes, the Mexican government bent to cartel demands. Simply put, the government of the United Mexican States was unable to exercise its legitimate authority to govern.