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Unusual Joint U.S.-Mexican Effort Nabs World’s Most-Wanted Drug Lord

McClatchy Tribune News Service World

Unusual Joint U.S.-Mexican Effort Nabs World’s Most-Wanted Drug Lord

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By Alfredo Corchado, The Dallas Morning News

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — The operation that led to the capture of Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman was an unusual joint effort carried out by Mexican and U.S. law enforcement officials who were down to the wire in a manhunt for the world’s most-wanted drug capo, according to a top U.S. law enforcement official.

Guzman, head of the powerful Sinaloa cartel, and an associate were captured at 6:40 a.m. Saturday in a modest yellow-and-white beachfront hotel in the Pacific Coast resort city of Mazatlan in Mexico. No shots were fired.

The weeks-long operation that led to his capture involved agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Department, as well as U.S. marshals.

The top U.S. law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Americans were given less than a month to work closely and on the ground with the Mexican navy to capture the longtime fugitive, whose empire stretched from the streets in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, throughout North America and to Europe, West Africa, Asia and Australia.

“The Mexican government gave us a set time, and we were right down to the wire in fact, down to the last day,” said the U.S. official. “This couldn’t have been more dramatic, but the arrest was a credit to our long working relationship with Mexican marines, who led the operation.”

In Mexico City, President Enrique Pena Nieto confirmed the capture via his Twitter account, and Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam lauded the work of Mexican authorities, particularly marine commandos. He credited U.S. intelligence for assisting but did not elaborate.

Asked whether U.S. law enforcement officials had assisted on the ground in Mazatlan, a Mexican official said only, “This was a Mexican operation.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, whose Department of Justice had placed a $5 million bounty on Guzman’s head, called the capture a “landmark achievement, and a victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States.” He said the U.S. government “salutes the government of Mexico, and the professionalism and courage of the Mexican authorities, for this arrest.”

Guzman’s arrest, which captivated Mexicans in Ciudad Juarez and throughout the country, was likened to the killing of Osama bin Laden. “El Chapo Captured!” screamed the headline of an afternoon newspaper in Ciudad Juarez.

The capture is seen as a major boost for Pena Nieto, who has been criticized for focusing more on the economy than security concerns. It should also lay to rest, for now, questions about his willingness to cooperate with U.S. authorities, an issue that has dogged his administration during the 14 months of his presidency.

The arrest is considered bigger than the capture last July of Miguel Angel Trevino, known as “40,” the leader of the Zetas paramilitary group, the organization known for its brutality and for its campaign of kidnapping and extortion along the Texas-Mexico border.

“Chapo’s arrest is a major coup, probably more symbolic than substantive. The trafficking networks will recompose themselves, but the symbolic impact of getting Osama bin Guzman is enormous,” said John Bailey, a longtime Mexico observer at Georgetown University and author of Politics of Crime in Mexico: Democratic Governance in a Security Trap. “It shows that the U.S.-Mexico cooperation is effective and continuing under Pena Nieto.”

In the weeks-long operation led by Mexican marines, several top leaders of the Sinaloa cartel were captured in their home base of Culiacan, Sinaloa. One of the arrests took place in the home of Guzman’s former wife.

Murillo Karam said Saturday that Guzman escaped capture by two minutes when marine commandos were delayed by steel reinforcement that allowed him to escape through one of several tunnels at a location in Culiacan. Guzman then fled by car to Mazatlan.

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5 Comments

  1. daniel bostdorf February 23, 2014

    All the billions spent over the past 50 years for this “war on drugs.”
    So they caught a big fish….at what price ??
    Millions of lives caught and lost in the gang gunfire and turf wars globally…

    Afghanistan was and is about Opium…poppies….heroin…drug cartels and chinese created a need for war…

    Billions and billions have been spent on the ludicrous efforts to eradicate drugs. Millions of lives have been lost through drug wars between gangs and other military style interventions. This also includes the incarceration of people unjustly simply because they have an addiction that is caused by brain chemistry imbalances. incarcerated millions and made the situation worse. We need treatment not prisons and preschool through high school prevention programs and education.

    We need to follow the successes of Spain’s model of treating the addicted and decriminalize and tax marijuana….. Facts–contrary to right wing hysteria– shows that legalization does not add to drug use and can generate large revenues. According to CES CEO Gary Shapiro, even world class economists have es

    timated that legalizing marijuana would save the government $7.7 billion per year on enforcement. Out of all these savings … $5.3 billion would go to state and local governments with $2.4 billion applied to the federal government. The biggest example of success are two states who voted recently to legalize marijuana: Colorado and Washington, are expected to bring in $550 million in revenue combined.

    So—-we need to legalize drugs and take the profit out of the hope of drug cartels and local pushers….

    Reply
  2. paulyz February 24, 2014

    The U.S. seriously must fully secure our borders, the amount of drugs, gangs, criminals, & even terrorists entering is truly a danger to American Citizens.

    Reply
    1. daniel bostdorf February 24, 2014

      The real danger is the fact that our government makes drugs profitable by making them illegal.

      My post below lays it out.

      We do not need more secure borders. They are fine. And your “sky is falling” rant does nothing to solve this country’s drug problem. And terrorists are not entering this country….

      We need to take the profit OUT of dope….to give hope…

      Reply
  3. daniel bostdorf February 24, 2014

    All the billions spent over the past 50 years for this “war on drugs.”
    So they caught a big fish….at what price ?? Millions upon millions of lives caught and lost in the gang gunfire and turf wars globally…

    Afghanistan was and is about Opium…poppies….heroin…drug cartels and chinese created a need for war…to process poppies into heroin…because it makes billions of dollars for drug cartels worldwide…estimated at 6 billion dollars…

    Billions and billions have been spent on the ludicrous efforts to eradicate drugs. Millions of lives have been lost through drug wars between gangs and other military style interventions. This also includes the incarceration of people unjustly simply because they have an addiction that is caused by brain chemistry imbalances. incarcerated millions and made the situation worse. We need treatment not prisons and preschool through high school prevention programs and education.

    We need to follow the successes of Spain’s model of treating the addicted and decriminalize and tax marijuana….. Facts–contrary to right wing hysteria– shows that legalization does not add to drug use and can generate large revenues. According to CES CEO Gary Shapiro, even world class economists have estimated that legalizing marijuana would save the government $7.7 billion per year on enforcement. Out of all these savings … $5.3 billion would go to state and local governments with $2.4 billion applied to the federal government. The biggest example of success are two states who voted recently to legalize marijuana: Colorado and Washington, are expected to bring in $550 million in revenue combined.

    So—-we need to legalize drugs and take the profit out of the hope of drug cartels and local pushers….

    Reply
    1. stcroixcarp February 24, 2014

      We know where the opium poppy crop is in Afghanistan and the US is in possession of some very nasty Weed killers. A massive spray with roundup could knock out 90% of the poppies with one aerial sweep.

      Reply

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