Mexico Sends El Chapo Back to Altiplano Prison

At a press conference held at the government's airplane hangar in Mexico City around 10 pm MT last night(available here), both Osorio Chong and Attorney General Arely Gomez spoke. Gomez said El Chapo was being sent back to Altiplano, the prison from which he escaped. (He has since arrived there.)

As for extradition, I don't expect it to happen anytime soon. Last July, he was granted a Writ of Amparo prohibiting his extradition to the U.S. without first being provided a hearing and due process. In October, another court granted his writ. (News article in Spanish here.) [More...]

I think Mexico, by sending him back to Altiplano, is sending a clear message that it believes its prison system is perfectly capable of housing and holding onto El Chapo. Mexico is not about to say we're sending El Chapo to the U.S. because otherwise he might escape again. He has a long sentence to finish in Mexico and several new cases. Unless the U.S. makes Mexico an offer it can't refuse (perhaps in some other area like trade, foreign aid, etc) I think it will be a long time before El Chapo ever sets foot in the U.S.

Also, Mexico wants answers as to who helped him escape from Altiplano in July, and how he did it. They are unlikely to send him to the U.S. before getting answers to those questions.[Added: One political party is actively opposing extradition.)

Back to the pres conference. Since I don't speak much Spanish, I didn't understand most of what was said. This Associated Press article has a brief recap in English. But the interesting part was after the speeches. First, soldiers pulled the podium away.

Then two military vehicles came on scene. One held El Cholo and the other held El Chapo. There were perp walks for both.

El Cholo looked very unhappy, but at least they gave him a shirt to wear.

El Chapo's perp walk is longer, and there are closeups as he is removed from the military vehicle and walked across the tarmac to the Marina helicopter.

He too was provided a real shirt -- and track pants -- and after putting him in the chopper, both aircraft took off.

He didn't get to look out the window.

Chapo's expression throughout was deadpan -- no discernable reaction -- although I suspect some will read resignation into the screenshots. Still, they are very revealing, at least physically.

There's a bit of a variance between the official version of the arrest and the news earlier. The Government seems to be saying that after the shootout, El Chapo and El Cholo (Orso Ivan Gastelum Cruz) escaped through the sewers, stole a vehicle, and were intercepted and captured on the road outside Los Mochis, and then taken to the Doux Motel.

Earlier news articles said they were captured at the Doux Motel .

The shootout that occurred earlier was at a private residence in Los Mochis. While some news sites say the house was under construction, others say El Chapo had been living there for a while and it was under surveillance for a month. Two days ago, the Government says, they had information el Chapo was there and decided to move in. In any event, the shootout was hours before the captures.

The Attorney General also said something about being able to locate El Chapo because he had contacted actors and producers to make a movie of his life (that sounds far-fetched to me. I can see his sons doing that, but not him.) [Correction: I'm wrong about this. See my later post about the Sean Penn-Kate Castillo interview of El Chapo in Rolling Stone. They may or may not be the persons the AG was referring to with respect to a biopic, but given the interview, its close enough to refute my assumption El Chapo wouldn't be interested.)

One thing that was apparent: Contrary to earlier reports that El Chapo injured his leg in an earlier raid in Sinaloa, he had no noticeable limp in any of yesterday's videos.

Also, as nicely as El Chapo was handled in front of the cameras during his transfer to the chopper in Mexico City, it was a bit different in Los Mochis. Here's a 5 second video from journalist Lopez Doriga showing El Chapo being bundled into a Lear Jet in El Mochis with his pants falling down and "crack" exposed, plumber style.

Here's a photo of El Chapo, handcuffed and sitting on the bed at the Doux Motel. He looks a little swollen, but that could be from the sewer.

The Mexican press took great delight in publishing the photos of the five dead sicarios from the shootout (please don't post links here.)

As for El Cholo Ivan, his real name is Orso Iván Gastélum Cruz or Jorge Ivan Gastelum Avila. Here's an older photo of him.

The Mexican Government has said he controls the region of the Evora, i.e. Guamuchil, Angostura and Mocorito. It also said he is El Chapo's Chief of assassins. He escaped from prison in 2009, was captured in March, 2015, and obviously got out again.

El Cholo Ivan may be most famous for putting banners everywhere in Los Mochis after his girlfriend, Ms. Sinaloa of 2012, Maria Susana Flores Gamez , was killed during a shootout by the Mexican military. He would leave notes all over asking for the arrest of a Mexican general he thought was responsible for her death. He reportedly was a cell leader for Sinaloa in charge of the battle against Beltran Leyva at some point, and more recently,against "Chapo Isidro" Meza Flores and gang.

There was another raid in Los Mochis in October -- the DEA helped in that one. El Chapo got away by just a few minutes. There are also reports of a failed attempt to capture him in Los Mochis around July 30, just a few weeks after his escape.

All in all, while the arrest may get some egg off Mexico's face, it will make zero difference in the production or availability of drugs, either in Mexico or the U.S. Also interesting: none of Mexico's leaders credited the U.S. or phone surveillance at all in yesterday's arrest.

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  • Display: Sort:
    All I can say is, (none / 0) (#1)
    by lentinel on Sat Jan 09, 2016 at 07:48:44 AM EST
    it"s time to legalize drugs.

    All I can say is (none / 0) (#2)
    by CoralGables on Sat Jan 09, 2016 at 10:18:49 AM EST
    I hope they enjoy their stay at the three wall motel room.

    The Mexican Drug War (2006-present) ... (none / 0) (#3)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat Jan 09, 2016 at 01:49:50 PM EST
    ... between the government and the various criminal cartels / syndicates is a bloody assymetric conflict that's proved to be one of the great tragedies in modern North American history. It's been estimated that nearly 130,000 people have lost their lives in the mayhem, with another 27,000 missing. "El Chapo" has been one of the more infamously cruel leaders of the cartels. He's no Robin Hood, and I'll shed no tears over his fate.

    It has begun (none / 0) (#4)
    by TrevorBolder on Sat Jan 09, 2016 at 06:35:33 PM EST
    The Mexican attorney general's office says it will begin the process of extraditing recaptured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the US.
    It said the move was in line with US extradition requests from 2014.
    On Friday Guzman was detained and sent back to the maximum-security prison he escaped from six months ago.

    The Mexican Government (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jan 09, 2016 at 09:20:57 PM EST
    issued arrest warrants for his extradition back in June and September, 2015. That's what he got the first Amparo writ against. So the media is wrong to say Mexico has refused to extradite him up until now. They backed off that position a long time ago. Extradition arrest warrants were issued for both the 1993 San
    Diego case and the case pending in the Western District of Texas.

     Here is the AG's statement today. She says after receiving the extradition requests from the U.S. last year:

    In response, the Mexican government began analyzing these requests. On June 25 and September 3, 2015, the Foreign Ministry determined that formal requests met the requirements of the bilateral extradition treaty, so that transmitted to the PGR.

    From one of my earlier posts, here is the court docket for one of the Amparo writs.

     She says Mexico will comply with any writs of Amparo -- she also outlines the procedure. It takes a long time -- months to a year or more for extradition to occur if its challenged.

    El Chapo's lawyer was interviewed today and said they have six writs of amparo against extradition and will file more. Especially since Altiplano has refused to allow his lawyer to meet with him last night and today.

    Once again, the writs don't say he can't be extradited, they say he can't be extradited unless he has been provided an opportunity to challenge extradition. In other words, they can't just whisk him off to the U.S., he has the right to present his defense first.


    El Chapo's Mouthpiece speaks: (none / 0) (#5)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Jan 09, 2016 at 07:05:24 PM EST
    "He's incommunicado, defenseless, said his lawyer, who said he did not fear for the safety of the detainee, but to clarify what was needed to guarantee his rights.

    "Civilized countries - I'm talking Japan, I'm talking Israel, France, England - do not extradite their nationals. Why does our Mexico sell its citizens as if they were cheap barrels of oil?" said Badillo.

    please don't insult his lawyer (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jan 09, 2016 at 09:23:51 PM EST
    name calling isn't allowed here. His attorney is a well respected jurist. Use that trash talk elsewhere.

    His lawyer went to Altiplano to see him and was denied access. That's not fair. Everyone should be allowed to consult with their attorney when arrested. Even in Mexico.


    Definitions: Juicio [or] Recurso de amparo (none / 0) (#6)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Jan 09, 2016 at 07:38:46 PM EST

    The writ of amparo (also called recurso de amparo or juicio de amparo) is a remedy for the protection of constitutional rights, found in certain jurisdictions. In some legal systems, predominantly those of the Spanish-speaking world,[1] the amparo remedy or action is an effective and inexpensive instrument for the protection of individual rights.[2]

    Amparo, generally granted by a supreme or constitutional court, serves a dual protective purpose: it protects the citizen and his basic guarantees, and protects the constitution itself by ensuring that its principles are not violated by statutes or actions of the state that undermine the basic rights enshrined therein. It resembles, in some respects, constitutional remedies such as the writ of security available in Brazil and the constitutional complaint (Verfassungsbeschwerde) procedure found in Germany.

    In many countries, an amparo action is intended to protect all rights that are not protected specifically by the constitution or by a special law with constitutional rank, such as the right to physical liberty, which may be protected instead by habeas corpus remedies. Thus, in the same way that habeas corpus guarantees physical freedom, and the "habeas data" protects the right of maintaining the integrity of one's personal information, the amparo protects other basic rights. It may therefore be invoked by any person who believes that any of his rights, implicitly or explicitly protected by the constitution, another law (or by applicable international treaties), is being violated.

    Other references:

    Mexican Legal System, University of Arizona, J.E. Rogers College of Law

    Mexican Legal System Overview - Mexonline.com

    Mexico's Legal System: The Basics - Mexico Voices

    Mexico and its Legal System (none / 0) (#7)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Jan 09, 2016 at 07:47:17 PM EST
    - Jorge Vargas, LLRX.com - deeper than the previous references

    IV. Amparo

    V.  Best Mexican Law Web Sites

    As explained in this article, the stare decisis principle does not apply in Mexico. Accordingly, courts and law firms in that country do not need to have the traditional thousands of volumes containing the millions of precedents accumulated through centuries of judicial history like we do in the United States.

    it's kind of like (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jan 09, 2016 at 08:40:44 PM EST
    our habeas writ but broader. The Mexican government has many legal resources explaining it on its website. This is by a law professor:

    The writ of amparo, like the habeas corpus, may be invoked by any person who believes that any of his/her rights, is being violated. However, one of the great progresses of the amparo in Latin America it's that it enables citizens to invoke the action for the violation of any right protected either explicitly or implicitly by the Constitution or by any applicable international treaties.

    It is also a very inexpensive or a free action, and in some countries (eg. Colombia) it does not require the participation of any legal counsel.

    All, or almost all, Central and South American countries recognize and provide for writs of Amparo.


    El Chapo's Hollywood Dreams (none / 0) (#8)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Jan 09, 2016 at 08:21:10 PM EST
    Sure sounds like he was interested to me (none / 0) (#13)
    by shoephone on Sat Jan 09, 2016 at 09:26:50 PM EST
    I wrote a new post on this (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 10, 2016 at 12:16:19 AM EST
    here. Please put further comments about it in that thread. Thanks.

    you're right (none / 0) (#15)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 10, 2016 at 12:17:33 AM EST
    I was totally off on my assumption. I deleted my comment and am going to post a correction.