El Chapo Guzman has been Mexico’s most powerful drug lord for a long time with his influence infiltrating the justice, political and social systems in Mexico. Presently said to be in his sixties, his legacy as Mexico’s most wanted man for about a decade is fit for a novel.
Just last year, he was able to escape from Mexico’s Altiplano prison — which is the most secure facility in the country — through a 1.5 kilometer tunnel. Details of his escape indicated that he was taken to the state of Queretaro by his henchmen after escaping, where a plane to the Sierra Madre mountains awaited him.
That said, his arrest in 2014 led to a bit of uncertainty as to who would lead the Sinaloa cartel, although there were reports that he was able to run his organization behind bars and received special privileges such as frequent conjugal visits, which only about 20 percent of the inmates were allowed to receive. The following is an excerpt from the Huffington Post report detailing his time in prison.
“Altiplano, the maximum-security prison where Guzmán was held, is known for having high rates of conjugal visits, according to the Mexican news site Animal Político. But even there, only about 20 percent of prisoners receive them, at a rate of about once a month. The nearly four dozen conjugal visits Guzmán racked up over the 16 months he spent in Altiplano average out to once every nine days.
“Such visits are considered a privilege contingent upon good behavior. But Guzmán received them even though security cameras recorded him discussing plans to escape the prison and administer his sprawling cartel operation, which dominates the U.S. illegal drug market… ‘The daily routine of the drug lord in prison was far from a punishment,’ Hernández wrote for Proceso in August.”
Following his arrest in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, by a contingent of heavily armed marines in January, violence in major drug trade linked regions was said to have spiked, with speculations pointing to a fight between factions for areas now slipping away from the weakened Sinaloa cartel, headed by El Chapo Guzman.
One such region is the Tierra Caliente valley, also known as the Hot Land, which many also refer to as Little Hell. Apart from its harsh climate, the area has also become a frontline for the ongoing Mexican drug war. It transverses the southern region of Guerrero state, which is where 43 students went missing not too long ago, and is now a hot-bed of violence. It has been reported that rising drug trafficking organizations in the area have grown stronger after the weakening of big cartels such as El Chapo’s Sinaloa organization due to infighting and the arrest of key figures.
The main cause of the violence is said to be its present status as a heroine production area, supposedly eclipsing the Mexican “Golden Triangle.” The following is footage of drug related violence in the region.
It has been reported that about 120 people are killed each month from the last quarter of last year in drug-related violence. The following is an excerpt of a report detailing the situation, according to the Daily Beast.
“There’s a human-rights crisis in Tierra Caliente, and it’s not being attended to,” says Laura Carlsen, director of the Mexico City-based Americas Program, in an interview with The Daily Beast.
“I’ve been in Mexico for 30 years,” Carlsen says, “But I never imagined that we could see the levels of violence happening now.”
Some of the gangs involved include the Guerreros Unidos (Warrior’s United), Jalisco New Generation Cartel, and the Los Rojos (The Reds).
[Photo by Eduardo Verdugo/AP Images]