Mexican Cartel Boss Joaquin Guzman Caught

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The leader of the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was finally caught in a dawn raid in the popular resort city of Mazatlan. The raid occurred so quickly and suddenly that Guzman’s bodyguards did not have time to react to the raid and mounted no defense to the influx of armed men, and Guzman himself was caught naked in bed with an untouched AK-47 nearby. This was the dénouement of a series of arrests these last few months that ate away at those closest to the cartel leader and followed on another raid not two weeks prior that had nearly captured Guzman while he was staying at a house belonging to his ex-wife. Guzman had escaped thanks to a reinforced steel door and a tunnel hidden under a bathtub. The assets of several of his relatives had also been frozen in order to prevent him from accessing resources that might aid in further escapes.

Guzman, now 56 years old, was born the son of a small-time farmer and, over the course of a very illicit career, became one of the most wealthy and powerful men in the world. According to Forbes’ Magazine Guzman was one of the few billionaires in the world and he also has the dubious distinction of being the first “Public Enemy Number One,” after the American gangster Al Capone, by the Chicago Crime Commission. His career began when he joined the Guadalajara cartel that was then run by the drug boss Miguel Angel Gallardo. Guzman was known for cultivating a number of contacts in both the political and the criminal sphere as well as for his ruthlessness, and took over Sinaloa’s operations when Gallardo was finally arrested in 1989. Guzman eventually took over a number of routes into the United States, expanding his operations beyond his home province. His career was cut in half by his arrest and imprisonment nearly fifteen years ago, which was in turn divided by his escape from maximum-security prison El Puente Grande prison in 2001 via a laundry van.

Thereafter he and authorities in both Mexico and the United States engaged in a prolonged game of cat and mouse. Other than the escape via a bathtub trap door, there were other near misses including a raid at the town where Guzman had held a large public ceremony to celebrate his wedding to a teenage girl. His constant movement in the isolated countryside, combined with his almost folkloric anti-hero status, combined to make him very difficult to catch. Investigators who worked the case were also at risk of assassination.

This arrest marks one of the highpoints in a series of arrest against the Sinaloa drug Mexican cartel. Last November Ismael “Mayo” Zambada, who is the son of one of the cartel’s top men, was arrested at the Mexico-US border and another man, who is known under the name of “19” and is alleged to be an assassin for the cartel, was arrested near Mazatlan. There are at least another ten arrests that occurred in the last few months. While this arrest is a success for law enforcement, others have noted that this leaves a power vacuum in one of the largest criminal organizations in the country. Some have predicted that this may lead to a struggle for control and a heightened level of violence in the upcoming months.


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