Joaquin Guzman, 62, was jailed for life earlier this month after a highly publicised trial in the US.
He was found guilty by a jury in February of trafficking tonnes of cocaine, heroin and marijuana while head of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel.
With Chapo out of the way and the cartel facing an internal power struggle, rival gangs may target its territory in north-west Mexico.
Gladys McCormick, a professor at Syracuse University and expert on Mexico’s political violence, told Daily Star Online: “Within Sinaloa today, there’s also another up and coming gang.
“They’re called La Gente Nueva – the new people – and they’re one of the cells that are really making inroads in terms of their leadership structures.”
“There’s also a huge amount of infighting going on with the Jalisco Generation Cartel, which broke off from the Sinaloa cartel after El Chapo’s arrest in 2014. They are very violent.
“They’ve already essentially taken control of the state of Jalisco, which includes Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta.”
The group is led by Nemesio ‘El Mencho’ Oseguera Cervantes, a former ally of El Chapo, and operates in at least 22 states across Mexico.
US authorities have previously offered a reward of $10 million for information leading to El Mencho’s arrest.
“There’s also a huge amount of infighting going on with the Jalisco Generation Cartel”
Professor Gladys McCormick
His cronies have targeted members of the public, soldiers and police officers in brutal displays of violence.
Professor McCormick added: “They are now making a play for both Sinaloa and Baja California.
“They broke off from the enforcement branch of the Sinaloa Cartel.
“In some ways, I see them modelling themselves on Los Zetas, who are just hype violent and make hyper displays of violence.
“They’re making major inroads in terms of full on war.”
Los Zetas – one of Mexico’s most savage cartels – routinely carry out, beheadings, torture, and indiscriminate murder.
Aside from external threats, Chapo’s ex partner Ismael El Mayo Zambada may ignite a civil war for control of the Sinaloa Cartel.
The ailing drug trafficker, 71, is one of the last remaining members of the original Sinaloa Cartel, having evaded the authorities and rival gangs for years.
He is now having to contend with Guzman’s two sons, Ivan Archivaldo, and Jesus Alfredo, otherwise known as Los Chapitos (Little Shorties).