Reports of the death of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán have apparently been greatly exaggerated, as Mark Twain famously said upon reading his own obituary in a newspaper. According to Manual Rueda for ABC News, the rumor seemed to come from the highest authority.
Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez of Guatemala announced Thursday that, “There was a clash between [drug dealers and] Guatemalan security forces in San Francisco,” referring to an isolated area of Guatemala, not the better-known city in California. He went on to say that two men were killed, one of whom was reported to resemble the distinctive drug dealer. “El Chapo” means “Shorty” in Spanish. An autopsy was underway to confirm the identification.
Oopsy. Not so fast. As it turns out, neither of the bodies was El Chapo. In fact, it appears that neither of the bodies even existed. It’s open to question whether there was any gun battle at all.
Lopez retracted the story on Caracol Radio on Friday night. The reports of a gun battle were “a misunderstanding.” When police and the Guatemalan Army went to check it out, they found no evidence of the conflict.
The embarrassed official suggested that the rumor of El Chapo’s death blew up because of a misreading of a warning about a convoy of vehicles. Apparently, the warning suggested that there was the possiblity of a conflict — which someone misinterpreted to mean that a firefight had actually occurred.
As Todd Rigney previously reported, El Chapo is the billionaire head of the powerful Sinoloa crime cartel. Although convicted of his crimes and sentenced to prison in Mexico, he escaped in 2001 and has been on the lam ever since.
A pregnant woman who claimed to be his daughter was in the news in December, when she was caught trying to sneak into the United States to have her baby in Los Angeles. She was deported back to Mexico.
El Chapo might be worth finding. The US State Department is currently offering up to $5 million for information that leads to his arrest.