Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman has for a long time been one of the most revered drug cartel leaders in Mexico. Born in La Tuna, Sinaloa, he has been involved in the drugs trade for decades and been imprisoned three times. He began trafficking drugs to the United States in the 80’s, but times have changed since, along with the dynamics of the trade. For example, there was little violence related to drug smuggling a few decades ago in comparison to today.
On how this came about, the people have changed and money has taken precedence over lives. According to a drug dealer known as Hector, who spoke to the BBC, and who has been involved in the trade for 50 years, the amount of money to be made has made the cartels merciless. The following was his statement.
“The person who uses crystal meth can hang his mother. The change to synthetic drugs changed the mentality. When the meth boom started, the war started, the jealousy started. The different cartels started to recruit people who had never seen a Kalashnikov.
“They give them a rifle, they give them drugs and those people turn crazy, they don’t think about tomorrow. People are sick – the ones who kill and the ones who send them to kill.”
He also spoke about the drug war, which is carried out by the sicarios, a term that refers to cartel hitmen. According to one named Raphael, who spoke to the network, he became a hitman for the Sinaloa cartel while just 14 years old. The following was his statement.
“A friend a mine told me about this business. He was part of this team. So I joined too. I was 14 years old. I was not good at school. I like this. How to explain? I don’t like fighting but I do like the weapons.”
He stated that he was just 15 years old when he carried out his first murder, adding that he did not feel anything.
The target on that day was an informer. Regarding the number of killings he had undertaken, he said he had lost count, but members of the group gave an estimate of about a dozen each over a period of one year. According to a man known as Jose who headed that branch of sicarios, no one was untouchable, stating, “A traitor, a whistleblower, a thief, someone who doesn’t pay the cartel. They send us to collect the money or to kill him.”
He also revealed that the Sinaloa cartel worked to protect the community and refrained from carrying out extortion, carjackings and kidnappings, unlike rival cartels. Apparently, the cartel hanged criminals found to have kidnapped members of the community. On why the cartel chose to do this, he explained that partaking in such crimes would be bad for business, adding that the community also protected the cartel when the need arose.
“So the people protect us. Most people do business with the cartel or join it. It’s almost an obligation here because if you don’t you’re on your own. You are against everyone else. There is no protection.”
This is as reported by the BBC.
In an investigation carried out by NPR, the recent arrest of ‘El Chapo’ Guzman was not exactly something that called for celebration in Sinaloa. According to an interviewee named Christina, a psychology student who resided in Sinaloa, no one was happy, and the main reason was because ‘El Chapo’s cartel kept the peace in the area, saying, “People don’t steal, kidnap or extort here.”
[AP Photo/Marco Ugarte]