The Hunt for El Chapo

One afternoon final December, an murderer on board a Okay.L.M. flight from Mexico City arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. This was not a enterprise journey: the killer, who was thirty-three, preferred to journey, and infrequently documented his journeys round Europe on Instagram. He wore designer garments and a heavy silver ring within the form of a grimacing cranium. His passport was an costly pretend, and he had used it efficiently many instances. But, moments after he introduced his paperwork to Dutch customs, he was arrested. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had filed a Red Notice with Interpol—a world arrest warrant—and knew that he was coming. Only after the Dutch authorities had the person in custody did they study his actual identification: José Rodrigo Arechiga, the chief enforcer for the largest drug-trafficking group in historical past, Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel.

El Chapo escaped from a maximum-security jail and evaded many makes an attempt at seize, typically hiding out within the Sierra Madre.Clockwise from high left: Alfredo Estrella / AFP / Getty; Greg Mathieson / Mai / Mai / Time Life Pictures / Getty; Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP / Getty; Nikolai Golovanoff / Corbis; Artgraphixel / Shutterstock; Natrot / Shutterstock; Us DEA / Reuters; Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg / Getty; BSIP / UIG / Getty; Zimand / Shutterstock (AK-47); Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP / Getty (handgun)

To work within the Mexican drug commerce is to have a nickname, and Arechiga glided by the whimsically malevolent deal with El Chino Ántrax. He supervised the armed wing of the Sinaloa—a cadre of executioners often called Los Ántrax—and coördinated drug shipments for the cartel’s chief, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, who was often called El Chapo, or Shorty. Arechiga was a narcotraficante of the digital age, bantering with different criminals on Twitter and posting snapshots of himself guzzling Cristal, posing with unique pets, and fondling a gold-plated AK-47. Guzmán, who’s fifty-seven, typified an older era. Obsessively secretive, he ran his multibillion-dollar drug enterprise from hiding in Sinaloa, the distant western state the place he was born, and from which the cartel takes its identify. The Sinaloa cartel exports industrial volumes of cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine to America; it’s considered accountable for as a lot as half the unlawful narcotics that cross the border yearly. Guzmán has been characterised by the U.S. Treasury Department as “the world’s most powerful drug trafficker,” and after the killing of Osama bin Laden, three years in the past, he grew to become maybe essentially the most needed fugitive on the planet. Mexican politicians promised to carry him to justice, and the U.S. supplied a five-million-dollar reward for data resulting in his seize. But a part of Guzmán’s fame stemmed from the notion that he was uncatchable, and he continued to thrive, consolidating management of key smuggling routes and increasing his operation into new markets in Europe, Asia, and Australia. According to at least one research, the Sinaloa cartel is now lively in additional than fifty nations.

On a number of events, authorities had come near catching Guzmán. In 2004, the Mexican Army descended on a dusty ranch in Sinaloa the place he was holed up, however he had advance warning and fled alongside a rutted mountain observe in an all-terrain automobile. Three years later, Guzmán married a teen-age magnificence queen named Emma Coronel and invited half the prison underworld of Mexico to attend the ceremony. The Army mobilized a number of Bell helicopters to crash the get together; the troops arrived, weapons drawn, to find that Guzmán had simply departed. American authorities haven’t any jurisdiction to make arrests in Mexico, so every time D.E.A. brokers developed contemporary intelligence about Guzmán’s whereabouts all they might do was feed the results in their Mexican counterparts and hope for the very best. In Washington, considerations concerning the competence of Mexican forces mingled with deeper fears about corruption. A former senior Mexican intelligence official instructed me that the cartel has “penetrated most Mexican agencies.” Was Guzmán being tipped off by an insider? After a collection of near-misses during which Chapo foiled his pursuers by sneaking out of buildings via again doorways, officers on the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City took to joking, bitterly, that there is no such thing as a phrase in Spanish for “surround.”

Guzmán developed “a Zorro-like reputation,” Gil Gonzalez, who pursued him in Mexico for the D.E.A., instructed me. In dozens of narcocorridos, the heraldic Mexican ballads that glorify traffickers, singers portrayed Guzmán as a rustic boy turned crafty bandit who had grown wealthy however not smooth, his cuerno de chivo, or “goat horn”—Mexican slang for an assault rifle with a curved journal—by no means removed from his aspect.

Yet Guzmán himself remained maddeningly obscure. Only a couple of pictures of him circulated publicly. A well-known collection taken after an arrest in 1993 exhibits a stocky, dark-eyed, square-jawed younger man standing awkwardly in a jail yard; he gazes on the digital camera with a shyness that appears at odds together with his fearsome repute. Chapo escaped eight years later, and had been on the run ever since. Because he may need had cosmetic surgery to change his look, the authorities may not be certain what he appeared like. One narcocorrido captured the predicament: “Only he knows who he is / So go looking for someone / Who looks just like him / Because the real Chapo / You’ll never see again.”

The authorities tried to trace Guzmán by monitoring phone strains. Narcotics smuggling necessitates common cellphone communication between farmers and packers, truckers and pilots, accountants and enforcers, road sellers and suppliers. But traffickers on the high of the hierarchy keep operational safety by hardly ever making calls or sending e-mails. Guzmán was recognized to make use of refined encryption and to restrict the variety of folks he communicated with, preserving his group compartmentalized and permitting subordinates a level of autonomy, so long as the shipments saved operating on time. “I never spoke to him directly,” one former Sinaloa lieutenant instructed me. “But I knew what he wanted us to do.”

The Sinaloa cartel is typically described as a “cellular” group. Structurally, its community is distributed, and has extra in widespread with a terrorist group like Al Qaeda than with the antiquated hierarchies of the Cosa Nostra. When the cartel suffers the lack of a significant determine like El Chino Ántrax, it may possibly reconstitute itself—however not with out a few cellphone calls among the many management. At the D.E.A., which faucets a whole lot of cellphone strains and e-mail accounts related to traffickers, the method of making use of strain to a prison group after which monitoring furtive makes an attempt at outreach is named “tickling the wires.” When El Chino Ántrax was arrested in Amsterdam, the cartel was nonetheless dealing with two different high-level losses: in November, the twenty-three-year-old son of one in all Guzmán’s closest associates was arrested whereas attempting to cross the border in Nogales; in December, Mexican troops in a helicopter shot and killed one other key cartel enforcer, on a stretch of freeway by the Sea of Cortez.

As the cartel tried to regroup, authorities on each side of the border intercepted scores of cellphone calls, texts, and e-mails. They realized that Guzmán would quickly be coming to Culiacán, the state capital of Sinaloa, for a gathering together with his sons Alfredo and Iván—ascendant traffickers who have been each shut associates of El Chino Ántrax. The D.E.A. introduced an intelligence file to authorities in Mexico, and in mid-January a special-forces unit of commandos from the Mexican Marines, or SEMAR, started to assemble at a ahead working base close to the resort city of Los Cabos, alongside the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. The marines, who’re the Mexican equal of Navy SEALs, have been joined by a small group of American advisers. Mexican authorities code-named the mission Operation Gargoyle. Its object was to seize Guzmán.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the federal government of Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto knowledgeable the marines and their American companions that they’d have roughly three weeks to carry down the drug lord. A U.S. official concerned in planning the operation instructed me that this was true. Fighting drug traffickers in Mexico has turn out to be a matter of triage, and the SEMAR unit was quickly to be redeployed to battle one other cartel, the Knights Templar, within the restive state of Michoacán. (Eduardo Sánchez, the chief spokesman for the federal government of Mexico, denied that any such time restrict was in place. “There was no window,” he mentioned.)

As the marines and their advisers moved into Los Cabos, they tried to not appeal to consideration. A battleship anchored off the coast was used as a decoy, in order that curious observers would possibly conclude that the sudden inflow of commandos was a part of an ordinary naval train. But one motive that Guzmán had remained at giant so lengthy was his unparalleled community of informants. One particular person concerned within the operation instructed me, “As soon as we landed, he knew.”

Guzmán had at all times been a grasp of escape. Born within the mountain village of La Tuna, in Mexico’s wild and craggy Sierra Madre Occidental, he was the oldest baby of a subsistence farmer who dabbled within the drug commerce. For generations, Sinaloan ranchers had cultivated hashish and opium, and kids have been taken out of elementary college to help within the harvest. Guzmán left college for good in third grade, and within the seventies, despite his illiteracy, he grew to become an apprentice to 2 drug chieftains: Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who owned a fleet of airplanes and was often called the Lord of the Skies; and Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, a police officer turned drug baron, who ran the Guadalajara cartel and was often called El Padrino—the Godfather.

Guzmán began as a type of air-traffic controller, coördinating cocaine flights from Colombia. But he was intelligent and aggressive, and rapidly started to accumulate energy. One evening in November, 1992, Guzmán’s henchmen massacred six folks at a crowded discothèque in Puerto Vallarta. They severed the phone strains in order that no person may name for assist, then walked inside and opened hearth on the dance ground. The targets have been Tijuana-based traffickers whom Guzmán was difficult for management of the profitable smuggling routes via Baja California. They have been within the lavatory when the capturing began, and fled with out being harmed. The subsequent spring, the traffickers organized for their very own hit males to homicide Guzmán on the worldwide airport in Guadalajara. As gunfire erupted, Guzmán scrambled out of his automobile and crawled to security. Seven folks have been killed, together with Archbishop Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo. (The gunmen apparently mistook him for Guzmán.) Ocampo’s homicide prompted a political uproar, and it was not lengthy earlier than Guzmán, who had gone into hiding, was picked up by authorities in Guatemala and turned over to Mexico. He was sentenced to twenty years in jail, on expenses of conspiracy, drug trafficking, and bribery, and ended up in Puente Grande, in Jalisco, which was thought of some of the safe prisons in Mexico.

Behind bars, Guzmán consolidated each his empire and his repute. He purchased off the jail employees and loved a lifetime of relative luxurious: he performed enterprise by mobile phone, orchestrated common visits from prostitutes, and threw events for favored inmates that featured alcohol, lobster bisque, and filet mignon. While he was there, the Mexican lawyer normal’s workplace subjected him to psychological interviews. The ensuing prison profile famous that he was “egocentric, narcissistic, shrewd, persistent, tenacious, meticulous, discriminating, and secretive.”

One day in January, 2001, a jail administrator pulled apart a makeshift curtain that Guzmán had draped throughout the doorway to his cell and shouted, “He’s escaped!” A subsequent investigation decided that Guzmán had hidden in a laundry cart pushed by a paid confederate. But many in Mexico speculate that he didn’t must trouble with subterfuge. Guzmán managed Puente Grande so completely by the point of his exit that he would possibly as properly have walked out the entrance door. Criminal expenses have been ultimately introduced in opposition to seventy-one individuals who labored on the jail, together with the warden.

If Chapo’s escape instructed that the Mexican political system had been corroded by drug cash, his subsequent years as a fugitive didn’t diminish this impression. He retreated to Sinaloa and expanded his operations, launching violent turf wars with rival cartels over management of prized entry factors alongside the U.S. border. The sociologist Diego Gambetta, in his 1993 guide “The Sicilian Mafia,” observes that sturdy prison enterprises are sometimes woven into the social and political cloth, and a part of their “intrinsic tenacity” is their capability to supply sure companies that the state doesn’t. Today on the streets of Culiacán you see evening golf equipment, fortified villas, and an occasional Lamborghini. Chapo and different drug lords have invested and laundered their proceeds by shopping for a whole lot of reliable companies: eating places, soccer stadiums, day-care facilities, ostrich farms. Juan Millán, the previous state governor of Sinaloa, as soon as estimated that sixty-two per cent of the state’s economic system is tied up with drug cash. Sinaloa stays poor, nevertheless, and Badiraguato, the municipality containing Guzmán’s residence village, is likely one of the most determined areas within the state. There had at all times been some sympathy for the drug commerce in Sinaloa, however nothing deepens sympathy like charity and bribes. Eduardo Medina Mora, Mexico’s Ambassador in Washington, described Guzmán’s largesse within the state: “You are financing everything. Baptisms. Infrastructure. If someone gets sick, you provide a little plane. So you have lots of local support, because you are Santa Claus. And everybody likes Santa Claus.”

Mexico’s municipal police have been poorly skilled, poorly paid, and poorly outfitted, rendering them prone to bribery. “In practical terms, organized crime literally privatized the municipal police forces across many parts of the country,” one senior Mexican official instructed me. Guzmán’s affect over the general public sector was not confined to legislation enforcement. Last 12 months, a former bodyguard for the present governor of Sinaloa, Mario López Valdez, launched a collection of YouTube movies during which he described accompanying López Valdez, who had simply taken workplace, on a visit to fulfill with Guzmán. In one video, the bodyguard performed a recorded dialog during which the Governor appeared to instruct his subordinates to not antagonize the Sinaloa cartel—and, as a substitute, to crack down on its rivals. López Valdez insisted that the recording was doctored. Last August, the bodyguard was found beside a street in Sinaloa. He had been decapitated.

As lengthy as Guzmán remained within the mountains, the inhospitable terrain and the allegiance of locals appeared to ensure his security. In 2009, Dennis Blair, President Barack Obama’s nationwide intelligence director, met with Guillermo Galván, who was then Mexico’s Secretary of Defense. Galván instructed him that everyone knew, roughly, the place Guzmán was. The problem was taking him into custody. According to a diplomatic cable that was later launched by WikiLeaks, Galván defined that Guzmán was believed to maneuver amongst a dozen or so ranches, and to be protected by as much as 300 armed males. The peaks of the Sierra Madre Occidental are steep and jagged, and the roads that vein their contours typically taper to a single grime observe. An armored convoy could be noticed by Guzmán’s lookouts properly earlier than it arrived at its vacation spot. And if a Blackhawk helicopter was dispatched to assault his outpost he would hear it thundering throughout the valley from miles out, leaving loads of time to flee.

More not too long ago, nevertheless, intelligence collected by Mexican authorities and the D.E.A. indicated that Guzmán may be altering his habits. There is a saying within the Mexican drug commerce that it’s higher to dwell one good 12 months than ten unhealthy ones. Many younger males enter the business anticipating to take pleasure in a decadent life for a short while earlier than being incarcerated or killed. Young narcos behave recklessly: they go to nighttime golf equipment, they race Bentleys, and so they publish photos of themselves on-line with their co-conspirators (and with the occasional useless physique). The solely traffickers in Sinaloa who beat the chances are those that are content material to observe a extra austere life within the mountains. Until these days, Guzmán had taken that strategy. But as a result of he was drained, or married to a a lot youthful lady, or overconfident of his capability to flee, Guzmán started spending time in Culiacán and different cities. “Here’s a guy who has made hundreds of millions of dollars in the drug trade, and he’s living like a pauper up in the mountains,” Mike Vigil, a former D.E.A. agent who labored in Mexico for a few years, instructed me. “He likes the fiestas. He likes the music. He likes to dance.” Another law-enforcement official speculated that, although Guzmán was accustomed to a country life, Emma Coronel was not. “She’s not much of a mountain person,” he mentioned, including that that they had twin daughters, and, regardless that Guzmán was a fugitive, his spouse was adamant that he be current within the ladies’ lives: “She would go out of her way to maintain that family life.”

Guzmán had different weaknesses. “He loves the gourmet food,” a D.E.A. official instructed me. From time to time, he could be noticed at a chic restaurant in Sinaloa or in a neighboring state. The choreography was at all times the identical. Diners could be startled by a staff of gunmen, who would politely however firmly demand their telephones, promising that they’d be returned on the finish of the night. Chapo and his entourage would are available and feast on shrimp and steak, then thank the opposite diners for their forbearance, return the telephones, decide up the tab for everybody, and head off into the evening.

“We need to rethink our strategy of hoping the Internet will just go away.”

It has been reported, erroneously, that Guzmán used a satellite tv for pc cellphone; actually, his favored communication machine was the BlackBerry. Like many narcos, he was suspicious of satellite tv for pc telephones, as a result of a lot of the firms that manufacture them are American and the gadgets are comparatively simple for law-enforcement officers to compromise. But the BlackBerry is made by a Canadian firm, and Guzmán felt extra comfy utilizing one. This belief was misplaced: by early 2012, the D.E.A. had homed in on Guzmán’s BlackBerry, and couldn’t solely monitor his communications but in addition use geolocation expertise to triangulate his sign.

That February, the company confirmed that Guzmán had travelled to Los Cabos for a liaison with a prostitute. He had been married at the very least thrice, and he had relationships with many mistresses; however, he seems to have had an unflagging urge for food for paid companionship. (Numerous present and former officers famous Guzmán’s prodigious consumption of Viagra. “He ate it like candy,” one mentioned.) The D.E.A. brokers who monitored his e-mails and texts marvelled on the extent to which his communications appeared focussed not on managing his multinational empire however on juggling the competing calls for of his spouse, his ex-wives (with whom he remained cordial), his girlfriends, and his paid consorts. “It was like ‘Peyton Place,’ ” a former law-enforcement official who saved observe of the communications instructed me. “It was a non-stop deal.”

After authorities traced the BlackBerry sign to a mansion on a cul-de-sac in a rich enclave close to the coast, Mexican troops burst via the entrance door of the constructing. Whether or not Guzmán had been alerted prematurely stays unclear, however he had sufficient time to sneak out the again of the property; he went to an adjoining resort, the place he blended right into a crowd of vacationers earlier than shifting on. Over the following three days, the authorities pursued him as he moved across the metropolis, desperately attempting to rearrange an escape path to the mountains.

At one level throughout the chase, Guzmán will need to have realized that his BlackBerry had been compromised, and determined to show this setback to his benefit. He met up with a subordinate and gave him the BlackBerry. Someone concerned within the operation mentioned of Guzmán, “He took us for a ride.” The authorities, unaware of the handoff, chased the sign round Los Cabos, till they lastly pounced on the sacrificial subordinate. While they have been occupied with arresting him, Chapo made it into the desert, the place a personal aircraft picked him up and flew him again to the security of the Sierra Madre.

“He changed it up after Los Cabos,” one U.S. law-enforcement official instructed me, including a line worthy of a narcocorrido: “He’s an illiterate son of a bitch, but he’s a street-smart motherfucker.” Rather than swap BlackBerrys, as he had performed previously, Guzmán now appeared to have stopped speaking altogether.

Like bin Laden, he may need chosen to depend on couriers. But a courier system is just too inefficient for the quick tempo of the narcotics commerce, and so, as U.S. and Mexican authorities ultimately found, Chapo devised an elaborate resolution. In the previous, he had often restricted his contact with others within the cartel by relaying his instructions via a proxy. For a time, a lady often called La Voz (the Voice) served as his gatekeeper, sending and receiving messages on his behalf. After Los Cabos, Guzmán reinstated this association, however with extra precautions. If you wanted to speak with the boss, you possibly can attain him by way of B.B.M., BlackBerry’s instant-messaging software. (Guzmán had apparently realized to learn and write properly sufficient to speak within the shorthand of immediate messages.) Your message would go not on to Guzmán, nevertheless, however to a trusted lieutenant, who spent his days in Starbucks espresso outlets and different places with public wi-fi networks. Upon receiving the message, the lieutenant would transcribe it onto an iPad, in order that he may ahead the textual content utilizing WiFi—avoiding the mobile networks that the cartel knew the authorities have been trolling. The transcribed message could be despatched to not Guzmán however to a second middleman, who, additionally utilizing a pill and public WiFi, would transcribe the phrases onto his BlackBerry and relay them to Guzmán. Although Guzmán continued to make use of a BlackBerry, it was virtually unimaginable to trace, as a result of it communicated with just one different machine. When he obtained your message, his reply could be relayed again to you thru the identical oblique means. Many members of the cartel didn’t notice that once they wrote to the boss and obtained a solution, each phrase had been transmitted by way of two intermediaries. This is typically described as a “mirror” system, and it’s fiendishly troublesome for authorities to penetrate (particularly when the transcribers preserve shifting from one WiFi scorching spot to a different). Nevertheless, by finding out the communications patterns of the cartel, analysts on the Special Operations Division of the D.E.A. ultimately grasped the character of the association. They resolved to deal with the small ring of logistical facilitators surrounding Guzmán, to establish the mirrors that he was utilizing, and, finally, to focus on their communications.

In early February of this 12 months, when the special-forces unit from SEMAR started making forays into Sinaloa, it was the primary time that Mexico’s marines had ever pursued such a big operation within the state. Unlike the Mexican Army—which tended to maneuver slowly, and at all times knowledgeable state authorities earlier than conducting an operation, even when these authorities have been corrupt—the marines have been nimble and secretive. They mobilized quickly, on Blackhawk helicopters, and didn’t ask permission earlier than initiating raids. The marines pursuing Guzmán had seen intense fight in recent times, battling the Zetas cartel in northeast Mexico. They have been veterans of a 2009 firefight that had killed a former affiliate of Guzmán’s, Arturo Beltrán Leyva, throughout a raid in Cuernavaca. One of the marines within the unit, a younger officer from Tabasco named Melquisedet Angulo Córdova, was killed within the shoot-out. He was buried with full navy honors. Shortly after his funeral, gunmen charged into a house the place his household had gathered to mourn, and murdered his mom, his brother, his sister, and his aunt.

The warning couldn’t have been clearer, but, based on individuals who know the SEMAR unit, the marines grew extra decided to carry down the traffickers. They now made a fetish of secrecy. Whenever they have been photographed in public, they adopted the {custom} of different élite safety forces in Mexico and wore black masks over their faces. They applied intelligent safeguards in opposition to penetration by the cartels. Apart from the admiral who commanded them and some senior personnel, none of them knew the place they have been headed or who their goal may be till they boarded a Blackhawk to undertake the mission. Several days earlier than an operation, the commandos have been obliged to give up their cell telephones, to guard in opposition to leaks.

The first necessary arrest of Operation Gargoyle occurred on February thirteenth, when the SEMAR unit apprehended a bunch of Sinaloa assassins on a freeway outdoors Culiacán. The marines confiscated the lads’s telephones and despatched them off for evaluation. Because cartel members continuously shed telephones, a single machine can provide an intelligence windfall if it comprises present numbers for different members of the group. In American debates over the National Security Agency’s warrantless assortment of “metadata,” that is one motive that many authorities have been fast to defend these methods; a constellation of dialled cellphone numbers can be utilized to construct a “link chart” exposing the hierarchy of a corporation.

Using data extracted from the telephones collected within the arrest, the marines and the D.E.A. started to deal with a trafficker named Mario Hidalgo Argüello. A plump-cheeked man with a droopy mustache and a crooked boxer’s nostril, he was a veteran of Mexico’s particular forces who had switched sides to work for the traffickers. Within the cartel, he was often called El Nariz—the Nose. Now that Guzmán was spending extra time in city areas, his entourage had turn out to be very small. Nariz was a part of this privileged circle, serving as Guzmán’s private assistant and errand boy.

In Culiacán, Guzmán hardly ever spent consecutive nights in the identical mattress. He rotated from home to accommodate and rarely instructed these round him—even Nariz—the place his subsequent vacation spot was, till they have been en route. Guzmán had a private chef, a lovely younger lady who accompanied him in all places he travelled. He is alleged to have feared poisoning, and typically made his underlings style meals earlier than he would eat it. But one D.E.A. agent mentioned of the chef, “She’s absolutely a great cook. So maybe the whole personal-chef thing was more hedonism than paranoia.”

“You expect me to believe you were at a mouse convention?”

Guzmán additionally preferred takeout meals, and, on the evening of February sixteenth, he despatched Nariz out to select up an order. Guzmán’s life had turn out to be largely nocturnal, and he ate dinner very late. That night, he was sleeping at a protected home that belonged to his ex-wife Griselda López. By the time Nariz left work, it was already previous midnight. Nariz returned to his personal home in Culiacán, and found that the commandos from SEMAR had been ready for him.

Under questioning by the marines, Nariz admitted that Guzmán was hiding within the metropolis, and gave the handle. “He flipped right away,” an American law-enforcement official instructed me. Just earlier than daybreak, the marines arrived at a cream-colored two-story home on Río Humaya Street, within the middle-class neighborhood of Libertad. There have been bars on the home windows, however that was normal in Culiacán. The marines readied their weapons and produced a battering ram, however once they moved to breach the entrance door it didn’t budge. A wood door would have splintered off its hinges, however this door was a marvel of bolstered metal—a number of the marines later likened it to an airlock on a submarine. For all of the noise that their efforts made, the door appeared indestructible. Normally, the friction of a battering ram would warmth the metal, rendering it extra pliable. But the door was custom-made: contained in the metal pores and skin, it was crammed with water, in order that if anybody tried to interrupt it down the warmth from the impression wouldn’t unfold. The marines hammered the door time and again, till the ram buckled and had to get replaced. It took ten minutes to achieve entry to the home.

The marines streamed via a modest kitchen and right into a collection of windowless rooms. They observed surveillance cameras and screens in all places. A gaudy oil portray of a bucking bull, caught filled with swords however nonetheless defiant, held on one wall. But there was no person in the home. In a toilet on the bottom ground, they found a bath that had been raised from its base, on hydraulic lifts, at a forty-five-degree angle, revealing a darkish opening resulting in a steep set of stairs: a tunnel.

In the early days of Guzmán’s profession, earlier than his time at Puente Grande, he distinguished himself as a trafficker who introduced an uncommon sense of creativeness and play to the commerce. Today, tunnels that traverse the U.S.-Mexico border are a mainstay of drug smuggling: as much as a mile lengthy, they typically function air-conditioning, electrical energy, refined drainage techniques, and tracks, in order that heavy a great deal of contraband might be transported on carts. Guzmán invented the border tunnel. 1 / 4 of a century in the past, he commissioned an architect, Felipe de Jesús Corona-Verbera, to design a grocery retailer that served as a entrance firm, and a personal zoo in Guadalajara for his assortment of tigers, crocodiles, and bears. By this level, Guzmán was making a lot cash that he wanted safe places during which to cover it, alongside together with his medication and his weapons. So he had Corona-Verbera devise a collection of clavos, or stashes—secret compartments below the beds in his houses. Inevitably, a bolder thought introduced itself: when you may dig a clavo beneath a home close to the U.S. border, why not proceed digging and are available out on the opposite aspect? Guzmán ordered Corona-Verbera to design a tunnel that ran from a residence in Agua Prieta, instantly south of the border, to a cartel-owned warehouse in Douglas, Arizona. The end result delighted him. “Corona made a fucking cool tunnel,” he mentioned. Since then, U.S. intelligence has attributed no fewer than ninety border tunnels to the Sinaloa cartel.

When the marines started breaking into the home on Río Humaya Street, Guzmán was inside, as was a bodyguard. As the battering ram clanged in opposition to the door, they moved rapidly into the ground-floor lavatory. Chapo activated the escape hatch by pushing a plug into {an electrical} outlet by the sink whereas flicking a hidden swap on the aspect of the self-importance mirror. Suddenly, the caulk across the rim of the tub broke and the bathtub rose from its tiled body. The caulk had camouflaged the escape hatch; even the bodyguard may need been unaware of its existence earlier than Guzmán turned on the hydraulic elevate.

They scrambled down the steps right into a slender passage. The area was lighted, however very tight, and so they moved rapidly, realizing that that they had solely a slight head begin on the marines. They reached a small portal resembling the door of a financial institution protected, the place the tunnel they have been in linked to the primary sewer system of Culiacán; crawling via this opening, they entered a cylindrical tunnel. The passage was unlit and fewer than 5 ft excessive; however, they splashed via the soiled, shallow water at excessive pace, as if Guzmán had rehearsed this escape.

By the time the SEMAR commandos entered the tunnel, Guzmán had been operating for greater than ten minutes. A tunnel is an exceedingly harmful setting during which to stalk somebody who’s armed: if he ought to flip and hearth at you, he doesn’t even must goal—one of many ricocheting bullets will possible hit you. But the marines didn’t hesitate. In the streets of Culiacán, in the meantime, dozens of troops have been in place, able to pursue Guzmán when he returned above floor. In the sky, a covert U.S. drone appeared down on town, poised to trace the fugitive if he emerged from a manhole and fled via the streets.

Meanwhile, Chapo ran via the sewers, like Harry Lime in “The Third Man.” The tunnel forked, and at one juncture the marines have been momentarily flummoxed, unable to inform which path he had taken. Then they noticed a tactical vest on the bottom—Guzmán or the bodyguard will need to have shed it—and charged onward in that course. Eventually, the marines emerged at a storm drain by the banks of a muddy river, greater than a mile from the purpose the place Guzmán had entered the tunnel. Once once more, he had vanished.

Two days later, on February nineteenth, President Obama, who was visiting Mexico City, held a press convention with President Peña Nieto. Obama praised the “excellent coöperation between the United States and Mexico” on criminal-justice points. When Peña Nieto got here into workplace, in 2012, many Washington officers had doubts about his willpower to combat the cartels. His predecessor, Felipe Calderón, had launched an unprecedented assault in opposition to drug trafficking, deploying fifty thousand troops to battle the traffickers within the streets; the armed forces pursued a “kingpin strategy,” looking for to dismantle drug syndicates by killing or capturing their leaders. Calderón’s strategy obtained robust monetary and materials help from Washington. But the marketing campaign was a convincing failure: the dying toll in Mexico spiralled because the cartels fought daylight gun battles with the authorities and amongst themselves. In Ciudad Juárez, one of many flashpoints within the battle, the annual homicide fee jumped from about 300 in 2007 to greater than three thousand in 2010.

The carnage may need been considerably redeemed had Calderón succeeded in curbing the narcotraficantes. But, as Ioan Grillo observes in his latest guide, “El Narco,” “In the drug business, it seems, a war economy functions perfectly well.” The circulation of narcotics throughout the border by no means diminished considerably, and, as cartels like Sinaloa and the Zetas vanquished smaller opponents, they consolidated territorial management, rising extra highly effective and extra grotesque within the course of. “Corpse messages”—piles of dismembered our bodies—have been left on main road corners. Mexican voters who went to the polls in 2012 have been weary of the violence; Peña Nieto, a youthful-looking former governor who represented the Partido Revolucionario Institucional, or PRI, which had dominated Mexican politics for a lot of the previous century, promised a contemporary begin. He pledged to focus not on attacking the cartels however on decreasing the killing—although his plan for reaching this met with skepticism. In the previous, PRI officers had largely countenanced drug trafficking, in change for well-placed bribes, and it wasn’t clear if Peña Nieto was honest about pursuing a unique path.

For years, U.S. law-enforcement officers had chafed on the pretense that they have been merely “advising” their Mexican counterparts within the combat in opposition to the narcos; a few of them needed American armed forces to have vast operational latitude on the bottom, as that they had as soon as had in Colombia. Calderón had come nearer to tolerating such a state of affairs than any earlier Mexican head of state had. But Peña Nieto indicated that he most well-liked to take care of better distance. When younger Mexican officers research their nation’s navy historical past, the curriculum dwells, inescapably, on the numerous invasions by the United States; the prospect of an overbearing American law-enforcement presence south of the border offended many Mexicans’ sense of sovereignty.

Soon after Peña Nieto assumed workplace, he declared that each one initiatives led or assisted by the U.S. should be routed via an workplace in Mexico’s Ministry of the Interior, which grew to become often called “the single window.” It was particularly shocking, then, when Peña Nieto’s administration started capturing or killing a number of the nation’s most brutal drug kingpins, typically in shut collaboration with the U.S. Last July, the authorities arrested Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, one of many leaders of the Zetas, who typically burned his victims alive. The subsequent month, navy operatives apprehended the chief of the Gulf cartel—El Pelón, or Baldy—who was recognized for blindfolding his enemies and torturing them to dying. For Peña Nieto, establishing rhetorical distance from the gringos might have created the political latitude for him to collaborate with them.

At the time of the Obama assembly, the SEMAR unit was nonetheless pursuing Guzmán in Culiacán. (This was a departure: Mexican armed forces had typically retreated to their bases following a failed try to apprehend him.) After the marines emerged from the sewers with out capturing him, they found that the home on Río Humaya Street was linked not simply to Culiacán’s sewer system however, via the sewers, to 6 different homes, every equally furnished and appointed, and every with its personal bathtub escape hatch. Guzmán had been shuttling nightly amongst these homes. Information from one in all Guzmán’s captured associates led the marines to a close-by warehouse, the place they uncovered a cache of heavy weaponry and greater than three tons of cocaine and methamphetamine. Some of the medication had been hid inside plastic cucumbers and bananas, in preparation for a surreptitious journey throughout the border.

The marines knew that, along with the protected homes and the escape routes, Guzmán had aides who may present him with a brand new BlackBerry or a experience out of city. So SEMAR occupied every protected home it found, and focussed on pursuing the lads in Guzmán’s entourage, on the speculation that in the event that they reduce him off from his help community he would not have a spot to cover. What had began as a covert operation grew to become overt as Mexican forces tried to intensify the strain on Chapo. Eduardo Sánchez, the federal government spokesman, instructed me that authorities established conspicuous roadblocks “so that Mr. Guzmán could feel that we were after him.”

Soon after the escape within the tunnel, the marines arrested Manuel López Osorio, one other former special-forces officer who had joined Guzmán’s interior circle; he glided by the identify El Picudo (Pointy Nose). He, too, grew to become coöperative below questioning, and gave up a big element. Picudo mentioned that he had picked up Guzmán and the bodyguard by a storm drain on the outskirts of Culiacán. He had pushed them south of town, the place they met up with one other aide and switched automobiles. According to Picudo, the bodyguard Guzmán was travelling with was his most trusted worker: Carlos Hoo Ramírez, who was referred to as El Condor.

The marines knew who Condor was, and raided his home in Culiacán. It was empty. They had additionally been monitoring his BlackBerry communications, however the machine seemed to be turned off. Suddenly, on February twentieth, it got here to life: he was sending a textual content. The authorities traced the sign and noticed that it got here from the port metropolis of Mazatlán, 100 and forty miles to the southeast. In mild of the debacle in Los Cabos, the SEMAR operators and their American colleagues anxious that Guzmán may need already left Mazatlán. He loved appreciable safety within the metropolis, the place he had typically obtained shipments from India and China of the precursor chemical substances used to fabricate meth. But it could be folly to maneuver from one main inhabitants heart to a different, and, judging from Guzmán’s previous conduct, he was most likely already again within the Sierra Madre.

By this level, federal authorities in Mexico City had realized concerning the botched operation in Culiacán, and the three-week window earlier than the SEMAR redeployment was practically closed. But, if Condor was so indispensable to the drug lord, capturing him may present worthwhile intelligence and squeeze Guzmán even additional. So the marines flew all the way down to the coast.

Mazatlán is a resort city well-liked with retirees from the U.S. and Canada. It has lengthy been a hall for narcotics trafficking, however, as uncontested Sinaloa territory, it has been spared the extreme internecine violence that has plagued extra disputed areas. On the evening of Friday, February twenty first, about forty marines assembled within the metropolis, together with a small contingent of brokers from the D.E.A., the U.S. Marshals, and the Department of Homeland Security. The marshals, who concentrate on finding fugitives, had been capable of hint the sign on Condor’s BlackBerry to the Hotel Miramar, a white, twelve-story condominium constructing with three columns of half-moon balconies overlooking the Pacific. Geolocation expertise can hint a sign to a given metropolis block or constructing, however not essentially decide the place within the constructing the machine is located. So, within the early hours of Saturday morning, the marines fanned out, forming a fringe across the property. Someone consulted the registry and found that two residences had been rented yesterday. A staff of marines climbed to the sixth ground and burst into one of many residences, the place they found two groggy vacationers, who have been recovering from a night of partying. (One of them, an American, thought that their room had been stormed as a result of that they had been smoking marijuana. The marines have been perplexed when he produced, from his pockets, a California medical-marijuana card.)

Meanwhile, on the fourth ground, a staff of six marines approached Apartment 401, the place they found Condor standing guard and holding an assault rifle. He raised his weapon solely for a second, because it was apparent that he was outnumbered. Guzmán’s resolution to jettison his large safety power had allowed him to maneuver round rapidly and inconspicuously, however he was left basically defenseless. The commandos wanted no battering ram as they crashed via a flimsy wood door, shouting, “Marines!”

They entered a two-bedroom condominium with potted vegetation, low-cost furnishings, and a white tile ground. In one bed room, the marines discovered two ladies: the chef and a nanny, who had been sleeping with Guzmán’s two-year-old twins, Mali and María Joaquina. A pink Pack ’n Play—which matched the women’ miniature pink suitcases—had been arrange. The marines raced to the master suite within the again, the place they found Emma Coronel, who had been sleeping. “Don’t kill him!” she shrieked.

Guzmán had scrambled away from bed in his underwear, grabbed an assault rifle, and darted right into a small lavatory. “Don’t kill him!” Coronel pleaded once more. “He’s the father of my children!” The standoff lasted just a few seconds, with the marines bellowing and Coronel screaming. Then Chapo shouted, “O.K., O.K., O.K., O.K.!” and prolonged his empty palms via the toilet doorway.

It had been a stunningly swift operation: lower than three minutes after the marines stormed the condominium, Guzmán surrendered. No one would have imagined such a legendary outlaw going out in something however a firefight. But SEMAR had developed a repute as an outfit that shoots first and asks questions later. “They notoriously kill everybody in the room when there is the slightest provocation,” an American law-enforcement official who has labored with SEMAR instructed me. With his spouse and daughters current, Guzmán might have realized that the one solution to spare their lives was to give up.

When the marines searched the Miramar condominium, they discovered a blue vinyl wheelchair: Guzmán had entered the constructing pretending to be a frail outdated man. But once they took him into custody they found that he appeared a lot as he had within the earlier pictures. His tooth have been a little bit pearlier—he’d had them capped. His hair and his mustache have been nonetheless thick and jet black. (In the home on Río Humaya Street, in Culiacán, the marines found a bottle of hair dye.) They bought him wearing a pair of black denims and a white shirt, then escorted him out of the constructing and across the nook to a dust soccer discipline, the place he was positioned on a Blackhawk and transported to a close-by naval base. A Learjet then took him to Mexico City. As the marines frog-marched him out of a hangar on the airport, journalists photographed him wanting furtively at his captors. His face was bruised and swollen, which SEMAR attributes to not any tough dealing with however to dings that he had obtained whereas sprinting via the darkish tunnels beneath Culiacán. The marines additionally observed bruises and cuts on his ft, and realized that when he fled the home on Río Humaya Street he didn’t have time to seize his sneakers; he had run via the tunnels barefoot.

Guzmán was gruff however respectful together with his captors. He had been planning to depart for the mountains that day, he instructed them. If the marines had arrived only a few hours later, he would have been gone. “I can’t believe you got me,” he mentioned.

“I’m a gladiator, but that’s just to put food on the table. What I really want to do is teach.”

At eleven-forty-two that morning, Peña Nieto introduced the seize on Twitter: “I acknowledge the work of the security agencies of the Mexican state in pulling off the apprehension of Joaquín Guzmán Loera in Mazatlán.” U.S. officers had already leaked the information to the Associated Press, however Peña Nieto needed to make sure that his troops had the proper man. In the summer time of 2012, Mexican authorities introduced that that they had captured Guzmán’s son Alfredo, and held a press convention during which they paraded earlier than the cameras a sullen, pudgy younger man in a crimson polo shirt. A lawyer representing the person then revealed that he was not Guzmán’s son however an area automotive seller named Félix Beltrán. Guzmán’s household chimed in, with barely suppressed glee, that the younger man in custody was not Alfredo. In one other latest case, officers in Michoacán introduced that that they had killed the notorious kingpin Nazario Moreno, a triumph that was considerably undercut by the truth that Moreno—who was often called El Más Loco, or the Craziest One—had supposedly perished in a showdown with authorities forces in 2010. (D.E.A. brokers now joke that El Más Loco is the one Mexican kingpin to have died twice.)

Fingerprints and a DNA swab confirmed that the person captured on the Miramar was certainly Guzmán. It was an enormous victory for Peña Nieto and for the D.E.A., if largely a symbolic one. Nobody had any illusions that the arrest would decelerate the drug commerce. “If you kill the C.E.O. of General Motors, General Motors will not go out of business,” a Mexican official instructed me. Guzmán’s genius was at all times architectural, and the infrastructure that he created will virtually actually survive him. Earlier this month, 5 weeks after Guzmán’s apprehension, two new drug tunnels have been found in Sinaloa territory, beginning in Tijuana and rising within the industrial outskirts of San Diego. Some imagine that, even earlier than Guzmán’s seize, his function within the group had turn out to be largely symbolic. “He was a non-executive chairman,” Ambassador Mora instructed me. “An emblematic figure.”

Even so, the arrest signified a robust reassertion of the rule of legislation in Mexico. Alejandro Hope, a former senior official in Mexican intelligence, instructed me that the message of Operation Gargoyle is easy and resounding: “No one is beyond sanction.” Yet, virtually as quickly as Peña Nieto’s authorities took Guzmán into custody, questions arose about its capability to carry him. According to a memo despatched to Attorney General Eric Holder a couple of hours after the Mazatlán raid, Guzmán is the topic of indictments in Arizona, California, Texas, Illinois, New York, Florida, and New Hampshire. The morning after his seize, Michael McCaul, the Texas Republican who chairs the House Homeland Security committee, introduced that Guzmán ought to be extradited to America, telling ABC, “There is a history here—he escaped from a prison in 2001.” A federal prosecutor in New York declared that Guzmán ought to be tried in New York. The head of the D.E.A. workplace in Chicago vowed, “I fully intend for us to have him tried here.” But Mexico’s lawyer normal, Jesús Murillo Karam, was fast to object. Guzmán nonetheless wanted to finish his authentic twenty-year sentence, after which face a number of new expenses, earlier than the Mexican authorities would contemplate turning him over to the U.S. Earlier this month, he introduced that Mexico has “no intention” of extraditing Guzmán, citing a priority that different Mexican officers raised with me: that American authorities would possibly flip Guzmán and grant him a lowered sentence, in change for his coöperation. The U.S. has a historical past of “reaching deals with criminals,” Karam famous. The opposition to extradition, nevertheless, could possibly be pushed by much less noble considerations: flipping Guzmán would possibly present the American authorities with proof in opposition to high Mexican officers.

In a narrative that aired on the Televisa community, the Mexican journalist Carlos Loret de Mola reported that, throughout the flight from Mazatlán to Mexico City, Guzmán instructed the marines that he had killed between two and three thousand folks. If this determine consists of not simply people he murdered personally however folks he licensed subordinates to kill, it’s absolutely a gross underestimate. Nobody is aware of precisely how many individuals have been killed in Mexico’s drug wars over the previous decade, however between the useless and the disappeared the quantity possible exceeds eighty thousand. As each the instigator and the victor of a number of the bloodiest battles on the border, Guzmán bears accountability for an appalling proportion of those atrocities. His victims have been overwhelmingly Mexican; one motive that the drug warfare has been really easy for most Americans to disregard is that little or no of the violence visited upon Mexico has spilled into the U.S. During the years when Juárez was essentially the most harmful metropolis on the planet—and a resident there had a better statistical probability of being murdered than somebody dwelling within the warfare zones of Afghanistan or Iraq—El Paso, simply throughout the border, was one of many most secure cities in America. Given this file, it makes intuitive sense that Guzmán ought to reply for his crimes the place the worst of them have been dedicated.

But the Mexican officers I spoke with acknowledge that the criminal-justice system of their nation is fragile, and that corruption stays endemic. Last summer time, an outdated pal of Guzmán’s, Rafael Caro Quintero, was launched in the course of the evening from the jail the place he had been serving a forty-year sentence for murdering a D.E.A. agent. He was sprung on a technicality by a panel of Mexican judges, below circumstances that struck many observers as suspicious. The U.S. Justice Department furiously objected that Caro Quintero nonetheless confronted expenses in America and declared that the Mexicans ought to extradite him. But he had already disappeared into the mountains.

The prospect of an analogous dead-of-night launch for Chapo will not be far-fetched. The degree of mistrust between U.S. and Mexican officers on this subject is pronounced; certainly, one principle I heard for the Americans’ resolution to leak the information of Guzmán’s seize to the Associated Press was that going public would foreclose any risk of Mexican authorities quietly letting him go.

“Once bitten, twice shy,” Ambassador Mora instructed me, sustaining there was no risk that his nation would threat the political embarrassment of permitting its most infamous convict to flee a second time. But there are believable situations in need of precise escape that may be troubling. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Caro Quintero continued to function his drug enterprise throughout his years in jail, a lot as Guzmán did whereas he was at Puente Grande. Guzmán is ostensibly being held “in isolation,” at Mexico’s most safe jail, Altiplano, about fifty miles west of Mexico City. He is permitted visits not simply together with his lawyer but in addition with members of his household, lots of whom have been implicated within the actions of his cartel. Shortly after the arrest in Mazatlán, Guzmán’s son Alfredo lashed out on Twitter. “The Government is going to pay for this betrayal—it shouldn’t have bitten the hand that feeds it,” he wrote. “I just want to say that we are not beaten. The cartel is my father’s and will always be my father’s. GUZMÁN LOERA FOREVER.” His brother, Iván, vowed revenge: “Those dogs that dared to lay a hand on my father are going to pay.”

One curious function of Guzmán’s seize was the truth that he was betrayed, in fast succession, by at the very least two of his closest aides: Nariz and Picudo. Had both one refused to coöperate, Guzmán would possible stay free as we speak. I used to be impressed, initially, by the pace with which the marines had elicited leads from these subordinates, each of them ex-members of Mexico’s particular forces who had been hardened by years within the cartel. One U.S. law-enforcement official instructed me that it isn’t uncommon for cartel members to start out coöperating as quickly as they’re captured. “There’s very little allegiance once they’re taken into custody,” he mentioned.

But once I raised the topic with a former D.E.A. agent who has spoken to Mexican counterparts concerned within the operation, he had a unique rationalization. “The marines tortured these guys,” he instructed me, matter-of-factly. “They would never have given it up, if not for that.” The D.E.A. refused to touch upon the torture allegation. However, two senior U.S. law-enforcement officers instructed me that, although that they had no particular information of the Mexican authorities utilizing torture within the operation, they “wouldn’t be surprised.” Eduardo Sánchez, the spokesman for the Mexican authorities, denied the allegation, and maintained that, on this and different operations, “federal officials, agents, and officers perform their duties strictly within the applicable legal framework and with utmost respect for human rights.” But the Mexican armed forces have been implicated earlier than in the usage of torture as an interrogation method within the pursuit of drug traffickers. A 2011 Human Rights Watch report discovered that members of Mexico’s safety companies “systematically use torture to obtain forced confessions and information about criminal groups,” and documented the usage of such methods as “beatings, asphyxiation with plastic bags, waterboarding, electric shocks, sexual torture, and death threats.” The broad employment of brutal methods, coupled with the excessive profile and the urgency of the hunt for Guzmán, makes it appear all of the extra believable that Mexican authorities used unsavory, and unlawful, means to pursue him.

“Have you and Tim picked out a name for the career obstacle yet?”

What will turn out to be of the Sinaloa cartel stays unclear. Chapo’s high associates, Ismael Zambada and Juan José Esparragoza, are each older than he’s, and appear unlikely to imagine day-to-day administration. Guzmán’s sons would seem like candidates, however, because the coddled kids of a rich trafficker, they could be extra enamored of the narco life model than of the enterprise itself. “The drug trade is one of the few really meritocratic sectors in the Mexican economy,” Alejandro Hope mentioned. “Being the son of Chapo Guzmán doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll be his successor.”

But the query of who will inherit the Sinaloa cartel could also be considerably inappropriate, as a result of, properly earlier than Guzmán’s seize, the panorama of crime in Mexico had begun to shift. Whereas Sinaloa is a standard drug cartel, focussing mainly on the manufacture and export of narcotics, newer teams, such because the Zetas and the Knights Templar, have diversified their money-making actions to incorporate extortion, human trafficking, and kidnapping for ransom. With cocaine consumption declining within the U.S., and marijuana on a path towards widespread legalization, a Darwinian logic is driving the cartels’ growth into extra parasitic types of crime. Organizations that after concentrated solely on medication now extract rents from Mexico’s oil business and export stolen iron ore to China; the value of limes in U.S. grocery shops has doubled previously few years as a result of the cartels are taxing Mexico’s citrus farmers. “We don’t have a drug problem—we have a crime problem,” multiple Mexican official instructed me, and, because the prison syndicates proceed to evolve, this dynamic may find yourself rendering organizations like Guzmán’s out of date. The prohibition of narcotics might have created a monster, however, as Alejandro Hope identified, even when you decriminalized all medication tomorrow the monster would discover a solution to survive. “You can’t legalize kidnapping,” he mentioned.

Some speculate that Guzmán wasn’t actually captured in opposition to his will: seeing that his time had come, he selected to take pleasure in a quiet retirement behind bars. One by-product of the tradition of corruption in Mexico is a reflexive cynicism about any official story put out by the federal government. Several years in the past, a fearless journalist named Anabel Hernández printed a guide concerning the Sinaloa cartel, referred to as “Los Señores del Narco.” (It was not too long ago printed in English, below the title “Narcoland.”) Hernández argued that Guzmán’s affect was so pervasive, and the Mexican political system so completely rotted by graft, that the entire Chapo saga could possibly be interpreted as a grand charade. Guzmán was “imprisoned” at Puente Grande, however he was truly operating the place. He “escaped,” when in actuality, Hernández suggests, the President of Mexico on the time, Vicente Fox, personally licensed his launch, in change for a colossal bribe. (Fox has angrily denied this accusation.) Guzmán spent years as a “fugitive,” although everybody knew the place he was, and the authorities have been merely mendacity once they claimed that they “could not catch him.” Hernández’s guide bought greater than 100 thousand copies in Mexico—her style for conspiracy and her tone of bitter knowingness struck a chord. So it ought to come as no shock that many observers imagine that Guzmán’s “capture” in Mazatlán was a theatrical occasion directed by the drug lord himself. When I reached Hernández and requested her what she fabricated from the arrest, she challenged the premise of my query. “If Chapo Guzmán has been captured,” she mentioned. “If that is the real story.” She isn’t satisfied that the person who was photographed in Mazatlán, and whose DNA was examined, is the true Chapo.

When Guzmán was questioned in jail by authorities, he, too, appeared to counsel a case of mistaken identification. He maintained his innocence, his rote replies taking over a smug absurdity:

Q: May the deponent say to which group he belongs.

A: I don’t belong to any cartel. . . . I’m a farmer.

His merchandise weren’t cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and meth, Guzmán insisted, however corn, sorghum, beans, and safflower. He made twenty thousand pesos a month, he continued, or about eighteen thousand {dollars} a 12 months. In a ballot of Mexicans performed after the arrest, half the respondents mentioned that Guzmán was extra highly effective than the federal government of Mexico; in Culiacán, within the days after his seize, a whole lot of protesters took to the streets, holding indicators demanding his launch.

Guzmán’s spouse, Emma Coronel, was born in California, and she or he retains U.S. citizenship. After the raid in Mazatlán, the authorities let her go, alongside along with her daughters, and she or he has since disappeared from public view. She was solely seventeen when she caught Chapo’s eye, in 2006, whereas competing in a magnificence contest on the annual Festival of Coffee and Guava, in her residence state of Durango. Her uncle Ignacio (Nacho) Coronel was one in all Chapo’s closest associates on the time, and when the cartel boss conveyed his curiosity she might have had little alternative however to indulge it. A norteño band, Los Alegres del Barranco, was enjoying on the pageant. Like Chapo, the band members got here from the Badiraguato space, and so they had discovered success enjoying narcocorridos concerning the cartel. They are rumored to have carried out at personal events for Guzmán and his associates; they even toured the U.S., with gigs in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Miami.

After the raid, Los Alegres posted a brand new single, “La Captura de Joaquín Guzmán,” on YouTube. A jaunty guitar-and-accordion quantity, it’s not so completely different from their different ballads, other than the phrases. “They don’t know what they’ve done, and what kind of trouble they’ve got themselves in, the people who ordered my arrest,” the band sings, assuming the voice of the kingpin. “It won’t be long before I return to La Tuna and become a fugitive again. That’s what the people want.” ♦


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