Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was finally recaptured about a week ago, and barely 24 hours after, a DEA official told Washington Times reporters that his days were numbered, highlighting that “[h]e’s getting old, and he’s getting sloppy.”
Currently in his late 50s, ‘El Chapo has enjoyed an almost legendary status among certain populations of his country, with numerous Narcocorrido songs being made to celebrate his legacy.
However, his recapture about a week ago seems to have chipped at his ego, with the Mexican government parading him to the public handcuffed as a soldier’s hand firmly gripping his neck. This followed an immense effort by the Mexican government to save face after his embarrassing escape from Altiplano maximum security prison in Mexico via a mile tunnel about seven months ago, which portrayed the ineptitude of the Mexican prison and the justice system in handling men of El Chapo’s stature. Following his recapture, President Enrique Pena Nieto posted the following message on his Twitter account.
“mission accomplished: we have him.”
The attack on his hideout was said to have been carried out by a division of the Mexican Navy. The following is a report of the raid, according to the Washington Times.
“The Mexican Navy said in a statement that marines acting on a tip raided a home in the town of Los Mochis before dawn. They were fired on from inside the structure. Five suspects were killed and six others arrested. The marine’s injuries were not life-threatening.
“At the home, marines seized two armored vehicles, eight long guns, one handgun and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
“The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration applauded Mexico’s success.”
The US Drug Enforcement Agency also offered the following statement.
“The capture of Joaquin ‘Chapo’ Guzman-Loera is a victory for the rule of law and the Mexican people and government. The arrest is a significant achievement in our shared fight against transnational organized crime, violence, and drug trafficking. It is further evidence of our two countries’ resolve to ensure justice is served for families who have been plagued by Guzman-Loera’s ruthless acts of violence. The DEA and Mexico have a strong partnership and we will continue to support Mexico in its efforts to improve security for its citizens and continue to work together to respond to the evolving threats posed by transnational criminal organizations.”
That said, it seems as if the DEA may have used El Chapo and his Sinaloa Cartel as pawns in a divide-and-conquer scheme hatched several years ago that would eventually lead to his downfall. According to an investigation carried out by El Universal that spanned between the years 2000 and 2002, the DEA had made a deal with El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel, allowing it to bring in large quantities of drugs into the United States, and the cartel would, in turn, provide information on rival cartels in a bid to bring them down.
This was at a time when there was a significant increase of violent and extremely powerful drug cartels such as the feared Los Zetas. Founded by 31 former elite Airborne Special Forces Group (Grupo Aeromovil de Fuerzas Especiales – GAFES), it used gruesome mutilations and overwhelming violence to take over territories instead of forming alliances with other cartels. In 2010, for example, it murdered 72 illegal immigrants and dumped their mutilated bodies in Tamaulipas.
This style of intimidation was soon copied by other up-and-coming gangs, consequently creating a nightmare for authorities in both Mexico and the U.S. The intelligence offered to the United States by the Sinaloa cartel is said to have helped in the capture of some notable figures in the drug trafficking world. As a result, cartels, such as Los Zetas, are currently reduced to disorganized trafficking gangs, leaving only the less violent Sinaloa cartel at the top.
The simple strategy of using the biggest cartel to exterminate the others seems to have so far worked, and now the only remaining notable figure was El Chapo. Consequently, the current Mexican cartels are still thriving under bosses who like to keep a low profile and use less violence, such as Vicente Carrillo Fuentes of the Juarez cartel and El Mayo, who is affiliated with the Sinaloa cartel.
Check out Video of El Chapo’s safe-house.
[Image by Elizabeth Gail]