by Lindsey Glass
In a story worthy of a cable show, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, chief of the Sinaloa Cartel, was captured after his second jail break from prison in Mexico since 2001. Score one for the war on drugs! Now Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto can officially call himself redeemed from the fails that let the world’s most wanted drug trafficker escape. Twice. A man, who at the time of his arrest in 2014, single-handedly imported more drugs than anyone else to the US. That takes work.
Apart from displaying the ineptitude Mexican police have shown in dealing with the cartels, these blunders caused Mexican’s to lose even more faith in the integrity of their government and police force. Video from the prison showed it took 30 minutes before the camera on El Chapo’s cell was checked, then another ten for guards to get to his cell, giving Guzman a 40 minute head start. That was more than enough time for a man famous for the elaborate tunnels his cartel uses to smuggle drugs across the American border. And how did he escape? You guessed it, through an elaborate, mile-long tunnel dug underneath his cell.
But the ‘alleged’ authority aid in his escape isn’t surprising for a man who has created lots of support in community leaders and police. Many sympathize with him because Guzman has made a local legend of himself by building schools and hospitals in parts of his impoverished Sinaloa. To many he’s a Robin Hood type who has done more for the area that raised him than law enforcement ever did. The financial aid Guzman provided worked because it’s been reported it was these impoverished communities who helped hide him and his people over these past months.
But let’s back up for a moment. For those not obsessed with following Mexican drug cartels here’s your 411. Joaquin Guzman runs a criminal organization called the Sinaloa Cartel, named after the Pacific Coast state of Sinaloa. The US Department of Treasury considers him to be the most powerful drug trafficker in the world. Not bad for a man who earned the nickname ‘Shorty’ because of his 5’ 6” height. As if he needed more recognition, from ’09-’11, Forbes ranked him as one of the most powerful people in the world. He came in as the second most powerful man in Mexico, and the 10th richest with a net worth of one billion. It’s possible that no one has made drug trafficking look as lucrative and brutal since our old favorite, Carlos Escobar. And, he’s surpassed Escobar in influence and reach so maybe Guzman will have his own HBO show soon!
To understand just why Guzman has earned this fortune and reputation, the Sinaloa cartel is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that is responsible for the majority of the drug trade in the U.S. and has reach all over the globe. They are the lead providers of Heroin, Cocaine, Meth and marijuana. They run multi-ton cocaine shipments from Colombia to the US, the US being the biggest consumer of cocaine in the world. Woohoo, I’m so proud. Psych. And among their claims to fame are the manufacturing and distribution of Mexican meth, Mexican weed, Mexican MDMA, and Mexican smack to North America and Europe. Guzman turned the Sinaloa Cartel into the Apple Computers of cartels.
But back to the story of his capture, after all 3rd times a charm (finger crossed). Massive military operations were held in several villages where he was thought to have been hiding, which resulted in the arrest of a group, including his brother in law, who are believed to have helped with his prison escape. The capture was done by Mexican Navy, a group thought to be less vulnerable to corruption than the police. They have taken the lead in fighting the cartels and this is most certainly proof they mean business.
A gunfight ensued, and at least 5 people died, all on the Cartel side. There was one Mexican military agent injured, but is in stable condition at this time. It’s a miracle things didn’t end the way they did with Bin Ladin or Pablo Escobar, neither of them wanted to live through the consequences, dying in the gun battles. One can only assume, that Escobar thinks he will once again escape prison with the aide of his money and cartel.
A question came up in one CNN report that said US law enforcement was responsible for helping to locate El Chapo and perhaps a thank you is in order. All of this attention and interest in credit only adds to Guzman’s mythology. One reporter said the mysticism behind this man has never been seen, and that nothing has garnered as much interest since the manhunt of Obama Bin Laden. Various reports surrounding his whereabouts have surfaced over the last six months, but none proved to be legit until now. Part of the problem authorities faced is that lots of these communities trust the drug lords more than their own local authorities so Guzman’s capture is a win on many levels.
In my opinion, the real score on this story is that publicly the Mexican and US governments made a big statement that they will hunt down and capture anyone who represents a drug threat to our countries and the world. No one is immune from punishment, not even a Forbes rated and endorsed drug lord who ranked as one of the richest men in the world. This is a very positive step forward and message to police and drug enforcement agencies here and afar. My only request is, let’s put him in Guantanamo and see if he escapes.