"El Chapo" Guzman: One Year Later

One year ago today, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was captured in Mazatlan. He's been held at Altiplano prison in Mexico ever since. He has not been extradited. His assets have not been seized or forfeited. There has been no dent in the drugs produced and trafficked by the associated Sinaloa organizations. (Via google translate):

However, one year of "El Chapo" capture, the Sinaloa cartel continues supplying methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and marijuana to consumers in Los Angeles, area that has been the one of the main markets for Mexican drug traffickers since the 90's, from the time that "El Chapo" was partnered with the Reynoso brothers.


Despite the triumphalism that showed with the capture of Guzman Loera, officials acknowledge that drugs still crossing the border, the organization is using better techniques for trafficking and that was little change in its operations. The DEA has reported that the heroin which is sent to the North has multiplied four times and that, in Mexico, methamphetamine laboratories continue to increase.

No one really knows who, if anyone took his place, or whether Ismael Zambada-Garcia or El Chapo's sons, or Damaso Lopez-Nunez or his son Damaso "Mini-Lic" are calling the shots. (Since it's been a long time since Sinaloa had a vertical structure, there may be no new leader.) While violence is down, the decrease had been following a trend that may have nothing to do with El Chapo.

Basically, his arrest has not accomplished anything.

Most of the articles on the anniversary of his capture are shallow, with no real news, just the opinions of various law enforcement. I found one article with details on his life at Altiplano, reportedly from prison officials speaking anonymously. Via Google Translate: [More....]

Guzman Loera, as all maximum-security offenders, has a personal surveillance 24 hours a day. They are a group of custodians that are rotating by security issues and has prohibited establish verbal contact with the detainee.

His cell is illuminated, also the 24 hours a day, and is entitled to one hour of sunlight, out to a courtyard that connects directly to your cell.

The sources consulted explained detainee has not requested a single book of the prison library and that he is virtually illiterate...."Seven minutes takes him to write his name when he signs a document", [said one source.]

Not one of the 6 or 8 new pending cases against El Chapo in Mexico has been decided. It's not known if the U.S. has filed a new extradition request, but he has an order preventing his extradition without first allowing him to challenge it. The most curious part is the failure to seize his assets. San Diego recently filed forfeiture cases against his son's plane and cars, located in Mexico, but not against El Chapo's assets. Seraphin Zambada, Ismael's second son to plead guilty, has already paid whatever forfeiture was required by his San Diego plea agreement. (The docket shows the Marshals Service received a check but doesn't say the amount. He has not yet been sentenced.)The lack of action against El Chapo's assets and business interests has led some in Mexico to speculate he had an agreement in place at the time of his arrest.

Since the news articles are sketchy and filled with opinion, I thought I'd reprint this comment posted to an article in the Guardian by someone who claims to live in Sinaloa. It may or may not be true, but I think it's interesting:

Typical clueless gringo writings that are at least 25 years behind the curve. I live in a Sinaloa neighborhood. It has been for decades.

The 'Golden Triangle' is little more than a maquiladora that supplies the ever flexible and redundant logistics networks embedded in their principal operations hub: southern California.

Tens of thousands of Mexicans, legal or not, make their living this way. Millions of red gringos are available at the drop of a sombrero to fight for their rights to practice capitalism according to their now traditional cultural mores.

Generically, they're good neighbors who care about their kids and administer justicia without all the intentional inefficiencies of the US legal system. Chapo Guzman's wife and girlfriends are well known. You don't look for trouble with them and they don't look for trouble with you. We proudly show off our firearms to each other.

They are far more proactive and responsive than the draconian local and state governments who tax with impunity but cannot educate the kids, pave the roads, keep the power on or keep the police for creating more problems than they solve.

The Sinaloan cartel isn't remotely cost competitive in the pot biz and encourages your patronage of the local Armenian dispensary if that's your thing: all locally grown and organic.

And unless you're interested in doing business at the kilo level in heroin or meth, it's not really in their interest to do business with you. The closest business analogy is to the populous suburban business district that surrounds Bentonville, AR/Wal Mart's headquarters.

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    Jeralyn, did you see the article... (none / 0) (#1)
    by unitron on Sun Feb 22, 2015 at 08:18:56 PM EST
    No, that's pretty funny (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Feb 22, 2015 at 10:15:09 PM EST
    I missed it. They want $1.4 million to research and provide reports on El Chapo. As the group that requested the info concedes, their request is not very specific. (I've spent well over $500. just on PACER documents from his current crop of cases, and probably that much on the older cases. And that's just court filings.) I suspect most of the cost is related to the need to review and redact the few million pages.

    In fairness, the request is quite broad in scope, and the estimated 13,051 case files would create considerable workload. But assuming that $200,000 of that fee came from photocopying (which would put the total number pages at two million), that would put the time estimate at over 40,000 hours, or 1785 days. That's almost five years of constant work without breaks.

    The DEA might want to look into a more efficient system for processing - or invest in a redaction drone.

    Viva Sinaloa... (none / 0) (#2)
    by fishcamp on Sun Feb 22, 2015 at 08:38:53 PM EST

    Might as well release him. (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 22, 2015 at 08:49:06 PM EST

    well color me stunned! not. (none / 0) (#5)
    by cpinva on Sun Feb 22, 2015 at 10:35:35 PM EST
    the Mexican gov't is as corrupt as ever, the sky is blue and water is still wet. film at 11.