El Chapo Interrogation Reveals Extensive Prison Corruption

The name Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is synonymous with corruption, and new details about an interrogation in 2000 by Mexican attorney Jose Antonio Ortega reveal that it goes much deeper than many could have imagined, CNN reports. From the moment Ortega arrived at the prison where El Chapo was being held, it was apparent who was really running the show.

“Guzman didn’t behave as a prisoner, Ortega said, but as the man in charge.”

Ortega arrived at the prison to conduct El Chapo’s interrogation at 10 a.m., but it was to be more than 12 hours before the cartel leader finally appeared. Most shockingly, however, it was also clear that prison officials were supporting El Chapo’s delay of the interview.

But the shocks didn’t stop there. Instead of being shown to the regular interrogation room, officials escorted Ortega to a room right next to the prison director’s office. When the door opened and Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman finally appeared, Ortega said it felt as though the arrogant drug lord was attending a social gathering – not an interrogation.

“He said, ‘Look, I had my conjugal visit today. Afterward, I went to the steam room and then had to take a nap so that I could greet you as you deserve.”

Although Ortega said El Chapo was wearing the standard beige uniform that other prisoners were required to wear, that was where any resemblance to behaving like other inmates ended. Instead, Guzman was allowed to roam free, without handcuffs, and the two custodians who accompanied him behaved more like servants than jailers, fetching sodas, coffee and snacks for the group at his order.

“El Chapo owned the prison at that moment,” Ortega told CNN. “It was as if he had invited us to his house. He offered coffee to us, knowing full well the hearing was going to last several hours.”

Ortega was sent to interrogate El Chapo at the request of the Archdiocese in Guadalajara, which was looking for answers in the murder of Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo, who was killed in a hail of bullets at the Guadalajara Airport in the early 1990s in what officials believed to be an attempt on Guzman’s life. At the time, El Chapo was being held on drug trafficking, murder and kidnapping charges at the Puente Grande federal prison in Guadalajara, Mexico.

From the man the Los Angeles Times had described as “Mexico’s top drug trafficker” in 1993, Ortega hoped to learn who killed the Cardinal, as well as where El Chapo was headed and why. Instead, Guzman claimed he was a farmer when asked his occupation and that his men had not fired a single shot during the airport shooting.

“Guzman didn’t really provide any piece of relevant information, Ortega said, repeatedly answer questions with, ‘I don’t recall.'”

Although the hearing lasted until 5 a.m. – just a few hours short of an entire day after Ortega had been scheduled to speak with the cartel leader – the experience was little more than “frustrating” according to the attorney, who also said the prosecutor appeared to be on El Chapo’s side.

“It appeared as if the attorney acting as a government prosecutor had coached Guzman, telling him at one point, ‘You don’t have to answer that,’ and later, ‘They want to get you.'”

After hearing about Ortega’s experience dealing with El Chapo, it’s really not surprising that he escaped the Puente Grande federal prison just 10 months after the interrogation. In fact, Ortega said military sources told him El Chapo didn’t even really escape; he merely walked out the front gate of the prison with the help of officials.

Ortega is among only a few prosecutors who have ever interrogated the drug lord, who was captured in February 2014 only to escape again in July 2015 using an elaborate tunnel and ventilation system fitted with a modified motorcycle, the New York Times reported. El Chapo was recaptured again in January and Ortega reportedly hopes to interrogate him again. The case investigating the death of Cardinal Posadas Ocampo is still unsolved.

[AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File]

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