Chapo Guzman arrested in Mazatlan, Sinaloa in USA-Mexico OperationPosted on February 22, 2014
Thirteen years after escaping a Mexican prison, the notorious drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman Lorea, aka "Chapo" Guzman, has been arrested. Guzman was arrested while with a yet to be identified female. The pair were at a condominium in Mazatlan on Saturday morning at approximately 6:40 a.m when their room was raided. The city of Mazatlan is a tourist city on the West Coast of Mexico and in Guzman's home state of Sinaloa. A photo of a shirtless Guzman surfaced not long after the first reports of his capture. In the photo, the 56 year old (age disputed) Guzman can be seen with bruises on his body and in the company of at least two people in military uniforms. Guzman was captured at the Miramar Condos which are located on the city's boardwalk, not far from the city's aquarium. The Miramar Condos are nice, but are not extravagant. The condos rent for about $120 per night. Surprisingly, Guzman's mugshot photo didn't appear very different from his wanted posters. At the time of his capture, Guzman still had the same basic haircut, dark hair, and a thick mustache with an otherwise clean shaven appearance that he has had for numerous decades.
Prior to Guzman's capture, there had been a lot of recent law enforcement activity in Sinaloa's capital city of Culiacan. Mexico's version of the Attorney General's office known as the PGR (Procuraduria General De La Republica) had announced on Thursday, February 20, 2014, the arrest of Cesar De La Cruz Vazquez and Jesus Pena Gonzalez in Culican. It has been reported that Pena-Gonzalez is a high ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel and works for drug kingpin Ismael Zambada aka "El Mayo". During this operation, Mexican authorities seized 200 kilograms of cocaine, 20 guns, 14 bulletproof vehicles, 6 luxury vehicles, 8 trucks and one motorcycle. On Tuesday, February 18, 2014 the PGR had announced another significant event in Culiacan. During this operation, Mexican authorities seized more than 3000 kilograms of various types of drugs to include cocaine, meth, and marijuana. In that same operation, numerous guns, grenades, and vehicles were seized.
Full details of Guzman's arrest were officially announced after the Mexican government confirmed for 100% that the person detained was in fact Guzman. It appears that the recent law enforcement activity in Culiacan was in fact related to the capture of Guzman. According to Mexico's Attorney General, Jesus Murillo Karam, the operations in Culiacan took place between February 13-17. During this time frame, Mexican military and law enforcement officials executed search warrants at seven different houses in Culiacan. These houses, had sophisticated tunnels that had been built in them and also utilized the city's city sewar system tunnels to reach other houses as well. The tunnels and re-enforced steel doors allowed "El Chapo" Guzman to escape during this time frame. It appears that after the searches were conducted, Guzman was followed to Mazatlan which is about two and a half hours to the southwest of Culiacan. In addition to the seven houses, the PGR reported that at least four ranches were searched. The arrest of "Chapo" Guzman is a major victory for the Mexican government's fight against organized crime in Mexico which has plagued the nation's reputation for many years.
Guzman has become a legend in Mexico and around the world from his rags to extreme riches story. Guzman was born to a poor family in the municipality of Badiraguato in Sinaloa. Guzman was given the nickname of "El Chapo" because of his short height. Guzman would go from a poor child selling produce to a young adult involved in the illicit drug business in the 1970s and 1980s in Sinaloa. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Guzman's influence had increased greatly. Guzman evolved from cocaine and marijuana trafficking and became involved in methamphetamine production and trafficking. Guzman had been very successful in drug trafficking and his group of associates had made the Sinaloa Cartel the most powerful drug organization in the world. In 1993, Guzman was arrested in Guatemala and extradited back to Mexico. Guzman was later sentenced to almost 21 years to serve in a Mexican prison. In 1995, Guzman was sent to the maximum security prison known as "Puente Grande" in the state of Jalisco. The Mexican states of Nayarit and Jalisco have strong connections to the Sinaloa Cartel. The city of Guadalajara which is in Jalisco, is a major economic hub of Mexico and has many people from Sinaloa living in the city.
Mexican prisons have had a long history of corruption problems. Not surprisingly, on January 19, 2001 Guzman escaped from prison. Since this time, the escape has made Guzman even more famous in the eyes of people in Mexico and all around the world. Although it is debatable whether Guzman is currently the most prolific trafficker from Mexico, there is no doubt that he is the most famous. Numerous media outlets have reported stories not only about Guzman, but also about his sons and his young beauty queen wife. Despite being the most wanted drug lord in the world, Guzman had been able to elude capture for years. Numerous raids in Mexico and even an offer of $5 million dollars by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency had proven futile for the past 13 years.
There had been fears in Mexico and in the United States that the current Mexican government would "protect" the Sinaloa Cartel. In 2006, Mexico elected Felipe Calderon as it's presidenct. Calderon's term from 2006 until the end of November 2012 had resulted in a vigorious fight against drug trafficking in Mexico. Calderon had a reputation as a leader who fought hard against significant drug traffickers from all parts of Mexico and this led to many arrests and deaths of the various cartels' leadership. Calderon came close several times but was never able to capture "Chapo" Guzman. On December 1, 2012 Enrique Pena Nieto became Mexico's new president. Pena-Nieto is a member of the political party in Mexico known as the "PRI". Calderon had been a part of an opposing political party known as the "PAN". There had been numerous reports that Pena-Nieto would not fully combat the powerful drug cartels. Today's announcement of Guzman's arrest will no doubt help Pena-Nieto's message that he has no alliance to any drug cartel.