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Column 031014 Wall

Monday, March 10, 2014

 

Mexican Drug Lord 'El Chapo' Guzman remains in the Limelight

 

By Allan Wall

 

The world’s most wanted man, Joaquin “el Chapo” Guzman, co-leader of the mighty Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel, was captured by Mexican marines on the morning of February 22nd, 2014, in Mazatlan, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

 

Since then, all sorts of details and speculations have been published.

 

For example, Chapo Guzman’s car collection, at least those which were confiscated, consisted of 43 automobiles, many of which were armored. The most common brands were Jeep (11), Dodges (seven, one of which was a Dodge Charger police car) and six Mercedes-Benzes.  Also there were Fords, Chevrolets, Nissans, Toyotas and Volkswagens.

 

According to Mexico’s La Jornada newspaper, Mexican Naval Intelligence was working with the American DEA, the Drug Enforcement Administration.  The DEA reportedly had drones flying over Culiacan.  These drones picked up the signal from Chapo Guzman’s cell phone in Mazatlan and were able to get a fix on it, and so the Mexican Marines were able to move in and nab Chapo.

 

What will be the fate of the now-detained Chapo Guzman?  And what will become of the Sinaloa cartel?

 

Guzman is still in prison, with the legal charges against him mounting.  As for whether or not he will be extradited to the United States, that’s still up in the air.

 

Everybody, however, was not happy with Guzman’s capture.  In his home state of Sinaloa there were demonstrations supporting the imprisoned drug lord.

 

In Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa, upwards of a thousand protestors turned out on February 26th calling for el Chapo’s release from imprisonment.  One large sign borne by demonstrators read, “Sinaloa quiere libre al Chapo Guzmán” (Sinaloa wants Chapo Guzman free).  A pro-Chapo demonstration was also held in Guamuchil.

 

It’s also been reported that Chapo Guzman is missed by some restaurant proprietors in the city of Culiacan.  Guzman would dine at restaurants, although he had a peculiar manner of going about it.

 

Guzman’s henchmen would first contact the restaurant and inform the establishment that “el jefe” (the boss) was going to be dining there.  Guzman was reported to prefer seafood and grilled meat, and was known to be a big tipper, leaving tips of 10,000 pesos (at 13 pesos to the dollar that would be $753 dollars). Not only that, but Chapo would pay the bill of everybody eating in the restaurant.

 

Unsurprisingly, conspiracy theories have emerged about the Chapo Guzman capture. One is that it really wasn’t Guzman who was captured, but another person.  To verify the prisoner’s identity, the Mexican government checked Chapo’s fingerprints, ears and DNA.

 

Another conspiracy theory has it that it really was Guzman who was arrested, but the whole capture was an arranged set-up.  According to this theory, Chapo had arranged to surrender and the whole show of force by Mexican marines was for his protection.

 

Will Chapo Guzman be extradited to the United States?  So far, the Mexican government is keeping its options open.  Chapo’s lawyers wasted no time in seeking a legal injunction to prevent extradition.  That injunction was shot down by a judge with the argument that the U.S. hasn’t requested extradition, so it can’t be denied at this point.

 

On the other hand, officials in Mexico (including President Enrique Peña Nieto and the Attorney General) have stated that it’s not likely that Chapo would be extradited soon.   Not only does Guzman face charges in Mexico, he didn’t even complete his earlier sentence when he escaped jail back in 2001.

 

Furthermore, President Peña Nieto has thus far done less extraditing than his predecessor, Felipe Calderon.  In Peña Nieto’s first year in office he extradited 54, while Calderon extradited 115 in his last year of office.

 

As for the overall trends in the Mexican Drug Cartel War, the current trend is toward fragmentation of the big cartels into smaller ones. Is that better or worse?

 

NOTE:  I was a guest on Silvio Canto, Jr.'s "Canto Talk" and discussed the capture of Chapo Guzman with Silvio and Michael Prada.  You can listen to the interview here.  My interview is in the first half of the show.  The second half of the show is about the situation in Venezuela and features an interview with a woman (pseudonym Maria) in Venezuela.

 

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Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info.

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