El Chapo: How Mexico’s drug kingpin fell victim to his own legend
His moustachioed face, previously unknown to the public, started appearing in newspapers and on TV screens. Within weeks, he was arrested in Guatemala and he was later sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of conspiracy, drug trafficking and bribery. In 2012, he evaded capture by the F.B.I. and the Mexican federal police by ducking out the back door of his oceanview mansion in Los Cabos into a patch of thorn bushes. Two years later, after he was recaptured in a hotel in Mazatlán by the D.E.A. and the Mexican marines, he escaped from prison again — this time, through a lighted, ventilated, mile-long tunnel dug into the shower of his cell.
- His four surviving brothers filled the void, US and Mexican security sources said.
- For taking the stand against his “compadre”, as he politely referred to Guzmán, the 44-year-old was promised a shorter sentence and a possible path to US citizenship.
- Both knew of the grinding poverty in the Sierra that destroyed lives even before they had begun.
- In the first decade of the 21st century, the Sinaloa cartel engaged in bloody battles with rival cartels and Mexican law-enforcement authorities that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people.
- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos congratulated Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for the capture of Guzmán.
At this same moment, we see the introduction of cocaine, which turbocharged everything. Among the witnesses were the kingpin’s first employee; one of his personal secretaries; his chief Colombian cocaine supplier; the son of his closest partner and heir apparent to his empire; his I.T. Expert; his top American distributor; a killer in his army of assassins; even the young mistress with whom he escaped from the Mexican marines, naked, through a tunnel that was hidden under a bathtub in his safe house. In January 2017, the Mexican government extradited Guzmán to the United States to face drug trafficking and other charges. Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York, and pleaded not guilty to over a dozen charges. His arrest came months after his dad, Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, was sentenced to life imprisonment for drug trafficking and conspiracy.
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To illustrate this point, the journalist Diego Osorno recently noted that the most popular brand of milk in Sinaloa is made by a company owned by Guzmán’s colleague El Mayo. The Sinaloa cartel operates on such a large scale – connecting manufacturers and distributors, bankers and businesses and extracting money at each step – that there is no longer a single face of the organisation. Buscaglia told me that that if I wanted to see the “sophisticated” side of the Sinaloa cartel, I should visit a particular gated community in Argentina.
Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera was born in the rural Mexican town of Badiraguato. The date of his birth is believed to be April 4, 1957, according to Time magazine, although other outlets list December 25, 1954, as his birthday. Guzmán’s childhood was shaped by his family’s poverty and his abusive father, a violent man who was in the drug trade. Joaquín Guzmán Loera, aka «El Chapo,» is a Mexican drug lord who was head of the Sinaloa cartel, the world’s most powerful drug-trafficking organization. El Chapo was found guilty of trafficking masses of cocaine, heroine and marijuana while running the Sinaloa Cartel in a US court. DRUG kingpin Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman was the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel and built an international criminal empire trafficking cocaine, heroin, and marijuana.
Former top Mexican security official found guilty of taking bribes from drug cartel run by ‘El Chapo’
Ovidio’s lawyer and Mr López Obrador’s office did not respond to requests for comment. Los Chapitos’ ascent, US and Mexican officials say, has coincided with a decision by Mr López Obrador to turn away from the aggressive anti-narcotics policies of his predecessors. US overdose deaths, the lion’s share due to fentanyl, surged to nearly 107,000 in 2021.
Former cartel kingpin Héctor «El Güero» Palma gave Guzmán his first break in Guadalajara in the late 1970s, when he oversaw a shipment of drugs from the Sierra Madre mountains. Guzmán was ambitious and eager el chapo meaning to increase the quantities of drugs being transported, according to Mr Beith’s book, The Last Narco. He was also «no-nonsense» and would execute employees himself if deliveries were late, Mr Beith said.
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David Brooks, the Jornada reporter, told me there is still “mass ignorance about what’s happening next door”. In Mexico, he observed, Trump coming to power “reinforced every stereotype of America for the past hundred years”. At the same time, while there are 36 million Mexican Americans in the US, Americans are generally ignorant of what’s happening below the border. One thing that has gone notably unnoticed, according to Brooks, is the victory of left populist López Obrador. Since he took office in December 2018, Mexico has entered “a moment of potential transformation”, which, if the new president follows through on his promises, could reshape the way Mexico deals with drug trafficking. Americans spend around $109bn on illegal drugs each year, and Bloomberg estimates that the Sinaloa cartel makes at least $11bn in annual sales to the US.
- With the cold war receding, drugs replaced communism as the enemy No 1 of the American people.
- In 2010, the bodies of 72 Central American migrants were found on a ranch in the north-eastern state of Tamaulipas.
- By his teens, Guzmán had been kicked out of the family home and was forced to make his own way.
- Former cartel kingpin Héctor «El Güero» Palma gave Guzmán his first break in Guadalajara in the late 1970s, when he oversaw a shipment of drugs from the Sierra Madre mountains.
- Not long after the jury got the case on Feb. 4, Matthew G. Whitaker, the acting United States attorney general, stepped into the courtroom and shook hands with each of the trial prosecutors, wishing them good luck.
His lawyer, Mariel Colon previously claimed the harsh conditions at the supermax prison have been detrimental to his physical health, though «he still has mental clarity.»
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On the night of July 11, 2015, Guzmán once again escaped custody, fleeing the maximum-security Altiplano prison near Toluca through a shaft beneath the shower in his cell to a more than 1-mile- (1.5-km-) long tunnel that led to a house on a construction site. The roughly 5.6-feet- (1.7-metre-) high wood-reinforced tunnel through which Guzmán fled had lighting and ventilation, indicating that it had been in the works for some time. (A motorcycle apparently had been used within the tunnel during its digging to remove soil.) A massive manhunt was mounted, and questions were almost immediately raised about the possibility of official complicity in the escape, which came as a huge blow to Pres. Enrique Peña Nieto, who had made the crackdown on drug cartels a cornerstone of his new administration and who had trumpeted Guzmán’s capture as a pivotal triumph. On January 8, 2016, it was announced that Guzmán had been captured in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, after a shoot-out.
From his beginnings as a hitman, Guzmán’s rise through the ranks of the criminal underworld was swift. His first foray into organised crime came at the age of 15, when he cultivated his own marijuana plantation with his cousins. But his ambitions belied his diminutive stature (he is only 5ft 6ins, or 1.64m).
By the early 1990s, Guzmán was on the radar of the DEA and FBI and was considered one of Mexico’s most powerful and dangerous drug traffickers. By his late 20s, the quiet but savvy Guzmán was supervising logistics for another drug kingpin, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, founder of the Guadalajara cartel. Guzmán kept a low profile, but when his boss was eventually arrested for the 1985 murder of an American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, he quickly emerged as one of the new faces of the Mexican drug world.
Guzmán quickly became the No. 1 drug target of the U.S. government, which offered a $5 million reward for information that led to his arrest. In 2012, the U.S. authorities froze the American assets of his family members. After successfully evading authorities and the $7.5 million combined bounties of Mexico and the US, El Chapo was arrested by the Mexican Navy on February 22, 2014, after he had hidden in tunnels for days on end.