Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was arrested this past Saturday morning in his home state of Sinaloa, Mexico. Guzman nicknamed “El Chapo,” meaning shorty, because of his short stature of 5’6, is one of the most violent and ruthless drug lords in history. He also heads the Sinaloa Cartel, which is thought to be the largest and most powerful cartel in the western hemisphere, bringing in over 25 percent of the US supply of cocaine.
According to CNN, Guzman who is known as the most powerful drug lord in the world, was captured in Mazatlan, Mexico in a joint operation between the Mexican Marines and the United States Drug Enforcement Agency. This is not the first arrest for Guzman; in 1993 he was arrested in Guatemala and extradited to Mexico, yet in 2001 he escaped. Several stories have emerged; some say he escaped in a dirty laundry bag and others state he walked out of prison dressed in a police uniform. He has been able to evade the law for what is described as his Robin Hood demeanor. Extremely private, he is said to help and respect the poor by giving monetary handouts, paying diners’ bills at restaurants, all in exchange for privacy. His power and thoughtfulness towards the poor created loyalty within the community, and is believed to be the reason he was difficult to track down. CBC reports that US officials have confirmed that it was Guzman’s security team that cooperated and helped track his location, after their arrests. It is speculated that Guzman’s biggest mistake was to come out of hiding. He lived many years in the mountains a place that provided him security; yet he began visiting local towns thereby making himself public, his whereabouts then became the whispers that ultimately led to the most powerful and what seemed to be untouchable drug lord capture.
Guzman has been named by the DEA as “the godfather of the drug world,” Chicago’s Crime Commission has named him “Public Enemy No. 1,” he has been on Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful list, having an estimated net worth of $1 billion. He has been the leader of Mexico’s most powerful and dangerous cartel, Sinaloa Cartel, for over 20 years. According to Forbes, his operation extends to North and South America, as well as Europe and Asia. And according to CBC he is estimated to have employed as many as 150,000 people. The U.S. had a $5 million bounty on him, and Mexico a $2.4 million bounty. His leadership over the Sinaloa Cartel has been blamed for the bloodbath that erupted in Juarez, Mexico, an important transport city for its proximity to El Paso, Texas. The fight for leadership of Juarez has left a toll of approximately 70,000 deaths in the past 7 years. There have been claims that the Sinaloa Cartel was working in conjunction with the Mexican military and police in order to bring other cartels down, with the goal of having an uninterrupted flow from Juarez to El Paso.
Who will be the new lord of the Sinaloa Cartel? CBC states that with Guzman’s capture there is new worry as to whether there will be a wave of violence in the fight to control the most powerful drug cartel and its turf.
By Dony Lugo