Although Tuesday’s conviction dealt a blow to the Sinaloa drug cartel, which Mr. Guzmán, 61, helped to run for decades, the group continues to operate, led in part by the kingpin’s sons. Despite this violence, Sinaloa seemed to receive less attention from the authorities than other cartels. An investigation by the US broadcaster National Public Radio (NPR) reported that between December 2006 and May 2010, Sinaloa members were arrested at significantly lower rates than those of rival groups.
Mainstream coverage of El Chapo’s trial often veered into lurid spectacle, rarely questioning bedrock assumptions about America’s drug war. The conviction has not ended the flow of illicit fentanyl into the United States, or the 93,000 overdose deaths in 2020, a 21,000 jump from the year before, shattering all previous records. The trial team also relied on scores of local American police officers and the authorities in Ecuador, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. The drug lord’s apprehension came one day before his interview with Penn was published on Rolling Stone’s website.
First escape and second arrest
In early January of this year, the Army told Mr López Obrador it planned to mount a top-secret operation to recapture Ovidio, according to a then-senior government official with direct knowledge of the events. Hundreds of gang fighters armed with military-grade weapons rushed to the scene, firing on government troops and barricading key city streets to trap them. They also el chapo meaning kidnapped eight soldiers and surrounded military housing where wives and children of Mexican soldiers lived, Mexican officials said. Los Chapitos prevailed in their struggle with López, who was arrested in Mexico City in 2017 by the Mexican military and subsequently extradited to the US. Following the tunnel caper, Mexican authorities recaptured El Chapo in January 2016.
No actionable evidence against any officials had emerged, and Grillo said most Mexicans were not particularly surprised to hear any of the corruption allegations that the case brought to the surface. In the early 2000s, after Guzmán’s first escape from jail, Sinaloa began to expand. The organisation moved into the markets for meth and fentanyl and, as opioid addiction gained momentum in the US, Guzmán approached it like a shrewd businessman.
El Chapo’s sons charged after ‘feeding people ALIVE to tigers’
It is clear the public wants reform, but the question is whether López Obrador will be able to do anything about the corruption that has for so long hobbled the state, including parts of his own administration. Three days after Guzmán’s sentencing, López Obrador visited Badiraguato, the kingpin’s hometown. Guzmán is by no means a popular figure in Mexico, but in Sinaloa, one of the country’s most dangerous regions, T-shirts with his face on them are sold in markets and he is widely regarded as a local hero.
El Chapo became the country’s top drug lord in 2003 after the arrest of his rival Osiel Cardenas of the Gulf Cartel. From 8 May through the end of the month, over 116 people were murdered in Culiacán, 26 of them police officers. In June 2008, over 128 were killed; in July, 143 were slain. An additional deployment of 2,000 troops to the area failed to stop the turf war. The wave of violence spread to other cities such as Guamúchil, Guasave and Mazatlán.
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A congressman from Sinaloa also told NPR that the government “has been fighting organised crime in many parts of the republic, but has not touched Sinaloa”. Explanations for this varied from low-level corruption in the armed forces to more elaborate conspiracies involving the government – accusations that Calderón told reporters were “totally unfounded”, naming various Sinaloa members that the government had arrested. Calderón’s announcement initiated what would become one of the deadliest periods in Mexican history. With billions in funding from the US, Calderón pursued his own version of the kingpin strategy, deploying the military to fight cartels and targeting their leaders. During his six-year tenure, 25 of Mexico’s “most wanted” – two-thirds of the entire list – were arrested or killed. As cartels pushed back, extortion and kidnappings spiked, and the number of homicides reached an average of 20,000 a year.
- A star prosecution witness in El Chapo’s 2019 trial, López got his own life sentence for drug trafficking reduced.
- In early January of this year, the Army told Mr López Obrador it planned to mount a top-secret operation to recapture Ovidio, according to a then-senior government official with direct knowledge of the events.
- People like El Chapo, like Beltrán-Leyva, El Mayo, and El Azul, were there to make money from that demand.
- Over his 30-year criminal career, he is believed to have earned more than $14bn (£11bn) in cash proceeds from narcotics sales, the US Department of Justice said.
Both knew of the grinding poverty in the Sierra that destroyed lives even before they had begun. Both had wound up in Puente Grande, stuck within the same dreary prison walls. Here’s what you should know about Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, according to those who know him—from government authorities to former lovers. When Guzmán’s guilty verdict was read aloud, his mouth was “agape” and he looked “vaguely stunned”, the New York Times reported.