Joaquín Guzmán Loera
|Joaquín Guzmán Loera|
Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera
La Tuna, Badiraguato, Sinaloa, Mexico
|Other names||"El Chapo" Guzmán|
|Occupation||Leader of Sinaloa Cartel|
|Height||1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)|
|Weight||75 kg (165 lb)|
|Predecessor||Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo|
|Successor||Ismael Zambada García|
|Drug trafficking, murder, money laundering, among others|
|Mexico: $30 million Mexican Pesos;
United States: $5 million USD
|The Mexican PGR and the US DEA|
|Escaped||19 January 2001|
|Escape end||22 February 2014|
Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera (Spanish pronunciation: [xoaˈkin artʃiˈβaldo guzˈman loˈeɾa]; born either 25 December 1954 or 4 April 1957; disputed) is a former Mexican drug lord who headed the Sinaloa Cartel, a criminal organization named after the Mexican Pacific coast state of Sinaloa where it was formed. Known as "El Chapo Guzmán" ("The Shorty Guzmán", pronounced: [el ˈtʃapo ɡuzˈman]) for his 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in) stature, he became Mexico's top drug kingpin in 2003 after the arrest of his rival Osiel Cárdenas of the Gulf Cartel, and until his February 2014 arrest, he was considered the "most powerful drug trafficker in the world" by the United States Department of the Treasury.
Guzmán has been ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful people in the world every year since 2009, ranking 41st, 60th and 55th respectively. He was named as the 10th richest man in Mexico (1,140th in the world) in 2011, with a net worth of roughly US$1 billion. The magazine also calls him the "biggest drug lord of all time", and the DEA believes he has surpassed the influence and reach of Pablo Escobar, and now considers him "the godfather of the drug world." In 2013, the Chicago Crime Commission named Guzmán "Public Enemy Number One" due to the influence of his criminal network in Chicago, though there is no evidence that Guzmán has ever been in that city. The last person to receive such notoriety was Al Capone in 1930.
Guzmán's Sinaloa Cartel smuggles multi-ton cocaine shipments from Colombia through Mexico to the United States, the world's top consumer, and has distribution cells throughout the U.S. The organization has also been involved in the production, smuggling and distribution of Mexican methamphetamine, marijuana, and heroin across both North American and European markets. At the time of his 2014 arrest, Guzmán imported more drugs into the United States than anyone else.
Guzmán was captured in 1993 in Guatemala, extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison in Mexico for murder and drug trafficking. After bribing prison guards, he was able to escape from a federal maximum-security prison in 2001. He was wanted by the governments of Mexico, the United States and by INTERPOL. The U.S. offered a US$5 million reward for information leading to his capture, and the Mexican government offered a reward of 30 million pesos (approximately US$2 million) for information on Guzmán.
Guzmán was arrested again by Mexican authorities in Mexico on February 22, 2014. He was found inside his 4th floor condo at 608 Av del Mar in the beachfront Miramar condominium in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, and was captured without a gunshot being fired.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Initial stages in organized crime
- 3 Conflict with the Tijuana Cartel: 1989–1993
- 4 Drug empire
- 5 Arrest and escape: 1993–2001
- 6 Mexican Cartel Wars
- 7 Break with the Beltrán Leyva Cartel
- 8 Whereabouts and manhunt: 2001–2014
- 9 Re-arrest: 2014
- 10 Family
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Bibliography
- 14 External links
Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera was born into a poor family in the rural community of La Tuna, Badiraguato, Sinaloa, Mexico. Sources disagree on the date of his birth, with some stating he was born on 25 December 1954, while others report he was born on 4 April 1957. His parents were Emilio Guzmán Bustillos and María Consuelo Loera Pérez. His paternal grandparents were Juan Guzmán and Otilia Bustillos, and his maternal grandparents were Ovidio Loera Cobret and Pomposa Pérez Uriarte. For many generations, his family lived and died at La Tuna. His father was officially a cattle rancher, as were most in the area where Guzmán grew up; according to some sources, however, he may have possibly also been a gomero, a Sinaloan word for opium poppy farmer. Guzmán has two younger sisters, Armida and Bernarda, and four younger brothers: Miguel Ángel, Aureliano, Arturo and Emilio. He had three unnamed older brothers who reportedly died of natural causes when he was very young.
Few details are known of Guzmán's upbringing. As a child, Guzmán sold oranges, and dropped out of school in third grade to work with his father. Guzmán was regularly beaten and sometimes fled to his maternal grandmother's house to escape such treatment. However, when he was home, Guzmán stood up to his father to protect his younger siblings from being beaten. It is possible that Guzmán incurred his father’s wrath for trying to stop him from beating them. His mother, however, was the "foundation of [his] emotional support". As the nearest school to his home was about 60 mi (95.6 km) away, Guzmán was taught by traveling teachers during his early years, just like the rest of his brothers. The teachers stayed for a few months before moving to other areas. With few opportunities for employment in his hometown, he turned to the cultivation of opium poppy, a common practice among local residents. During harvest season, Guzmán and his brothers hiked the hills of Badiraguato to cut the bud of the poppy. Once the plant was stacked in kilos, his father sold the harvest to other suppliers in Culiacán and Guamúchil. He sold marijuana at commercial centers near the area while accompanied by Guzmán. His father spent most of the profits on liquor and women and often returned home with no money. Tired of his mismanagement, Guzmán, at the age of 15, cultivated his own marijuana plantation with four distant cousins (Arturo, Alfredo, Carlos, and Héctor), who lived nearby. With his first marijuana productions, Guzmán supported his family financially.
When he was a teenager, however, his father kicked him out of his house, and he went to live with his grandfather. It was during his adolescence that Guzmán earned the nickname El Chapo, Mexican slang for "Shorty", for his 1.68 m (5 ft., 6 in.) stature and stocky physical appearance. Though most people in Badiraguato worked in the poppy fields of the Sierra Madre Occidental throughout most of their lives, Guzmán left his hometown in search of greater opportunities; through his uncle Pedro Avilés Pérez, one of the pioneers of Mexican drug trafficking, he left Badiraguato in his 20s and joined organized crime.
Initial stages in organized crime
During the 1980s, the leading crime syndicate in Mexico was the Guadalajara Cartel, which was headed by Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo (alias "El Padrino"), Rafael Caro Quintero, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo (alias "Don Neto"), Juan José Esparragoza Moreno (alias "El Azul") and others. In the 1970s, Guzmán first worked for the drug lord Héctor "El Güero" Palma by transporting drugs and overseeing its shipments from the Sierra Madre region to urban areas near the U.S.-Mexico border via aircraft. Since his initial steps in organized crime, Guzmán was ambitious and regularly pressed on his superiors to allow him to increase the share of narcotics that were smuggled across the border. The drug lord also favored a pragmatic and serious approach when doing business; if any of his drug shipments were not on time, Guzmán would simply kill the smuggler himself by shooting him in the head. Those around him learned that ripping him off or going with other competitors—even if they offered better prices—was inconvenient. The leaders of the Guadalajara Cartel liked Guzmán's business acumen, and in the early 1980s, they introduced him to Félix Gallardo, one of the major drug czars in Mexico. Guzmán first worked as a chauffeur for Félix Gallardo before he put him in charge of logistics, where Guzmán coordinated drug shipments from Colombia to Mexico via land, air, and sea. Palma, on the other hand, made sure the deliveries arrived to consumers in the United States. Guzmán soon earned enough standing and began working for Félix Gallardo directly.
Throughout most of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Mexican drug traffickers were middlemen for the Colombian drug trafficking groups, and would simply move the drugs through the U.S.-Mexico border and receive a fee for each kilogram. Mexico, however, remained a secondary route for the Colombians, given that most of the drugs trafficked by their cartels were smuggled through the Caribbean and the Florida corridor. Félix Gallardo was the leading drug baron in Mexico and friend of Juan Ramón Matta-Ballesteros, but his operations were still limited by his counterparts in South America. In the mid-1980s, however, the U.S. government increased law enforcement surveillance and put pressure on the Medellín and Cali Cartels by effectively reducing the drug trafficking operations in the Caribbean corridor. Realizing it was more profitable to hand over the operations to their Mexican counterparts, the Colombian cartels gave Félix Gallardo more control over their drug shipments. This power shift gave the Mexican organized crime groups more leverage over their Central American and South American counterparts. During the 1980s, however, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was conducting undercover ground work in Mexico, where several of its agents worked as informants.
One DEA agent, Enrique Camarena Salazar, was working as an informant and grew close to many top drug barons, including Félix Gallardo. In November 1984, the Mexican military—acting on the intelligence information provided by Camarena—raided a large marijuana plantation owned by the Guadalajara Cartel and known as "Rancho Búfalo". Angered by the suspected betrayal, Félix Gallardo and his men sought revenge by kidnapping, torturing, and killing the DEA agent in February 1985. Guzmán's life changed that day, according to federal agents of the DEA; the drug lord took advantage of the internal crisis to gain ground within the cartel and take over more drug trafficking operations. The death of Camarena outraged Washington, and Mexico responded by carrying out a massive manhunt to arrest those involved in the incident. In 1989, Félix Gallardo was arrested; while in prison and through a number of envoys, the drug lord called for a summit in Acapulco, Guerrero. In the conclave, Guzmán and others discussed the future of Mexico's drug trafficking and agreed to divide the territories previously owned by the Guadalajara Cartel. The Arellano Félix brothers formed the Tijuana Cartel, which controlled the Tijuana corridor and parts of Baja California; in Chihuahua state, a group controlled by Carrillo Fuentes family formed the Juárez Cartel; and the remaining faction left to Sinaloa and the Pacific Coast and formed the Sinaloa Cartel under the traffickers Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, Palma, and Guzmán. Guzmán was specifically in charge of the drug corridors of Tecate, Baja California, and Mexicali and San Luis Río Colorado, two border crossings that connect the states of Sonora and Baja California with the U.S. states of Arizona and California.
When Félix Gallardo was arrested, Guzmán reportedly lived in Guadalajara, Jalisco for some time. One of his other centers of operation, however, was in the border city of Agua Prieta, Sonora, where he coordinated drug trafficking activities more closely. The drug lord had dozens of properties in various parts of the country. People he trusted purchased the properties for him and registered them under false names. Most of them were located in residential neighborhoods and served as stash houses for drugs, weapons, and cash. Guzmán also owned several ranches across Mexico, but most of them were located in the states of Sinaloa, Durango, Chihuahua, and Sonora, where locals working for the drug lord grew opium and marijuana. The first time Guzmán was detected by U.S. authorities for his involvement in organized crime was in 1987, when several protected witnesses testified in a USA court that the drug lord was in fact heading the Sinaloa Cartel. An indictment issued in the state of Arizona alleged that Guzmán had coordinated the shipment of 4,600 pounds of cannabis 10,504 pounds of cocaine from 19 October 1987 to 18 May 1990, and had received roughly US$1.5 million in drug proceeds that were shipped back to his home state. Another indictment alleged that Guzmán earned US$100,000 for trafficking 35 tons of cocaine and an unspecified amount of marijuana in a period of three years. In the border areas between Tecate and San Luis Río Colorado, Guzmán ordered his men to traffic most of the drugs via land, but also through a few aircraft. By using the so-called piecemeal strategy, where traffickers kept drug quantities relatively low, risks were reduced. The drug lord also pioneered the use of sophisticated underground tunnels to move drugs across the border and into the United States. Aside from pioneering the tunnels, Palma and Guzmán packed cocaine into chili pepper cans under the brand Comadre before they were shipped to the U.S. by train. In return, the drug lords were paid through large suitcases filled with millions of dollars in cash. These suitcases were flown from the U.S. to Mexico City, where corrupt customs agents at the airport made sure the deliveries were not inspected. Large sums of that money were reportedly used as bribes for members of the Attorney General's Office.
Conflict with the Tijuana Cartel: 1989–1993
When Félix Gallardo was arrested, the Tijuana corridor was handed over to the Arellano Félix brothers, Jesús Labra Áviles (alias "El Chuy"), and Javier Caro Payán (alias "El Doctor"), cousin of the former Guadalajara Cartel leader Rafael Caro Quintero. In fears of a coup, however, Caro Payán fled to Canada and was later arrested. Guzmán and the rest of the Sinaloa Cartel leaders consequently grew angry at the Arellano Félix clan about this. In 1989, Guzmán sent Armando López (alias "El Rayo"), one of his most-trusted men, to speak with the Arellano Félix clan in Tijuana. Before he had a chance to speak face-to-face with them, López was killed by Ramón Arellano Félix. The corpse was disposed in the outskirts of the city and the Tijuana Cartel ordered a hit on the remaining family members of the López family to prevent future reprisals. That same year, the Arellano Félix brothers sent the Venezuelan drug trafficker Enrique Rafael Clavel Moreno to infiltrate Palma's family and seduce his wife Guadalupe Leija Serrano. After convincing her to withdraw US$7 million from one of Palma's bank accounts in San Diego, California, Clavel beheaded her and sent her head to Palma in a box. It was known as the first beheading linked to the drug trade in Mexico. Two weeks later, Clavel killed Palma's children, Héctor (aged 5) and Nataly (aged 4), by throwing them off a bridge in Venezuela. Palma retaliated by sending his men to kill Clavel while he was in prison. In 1991, Ramón killed another Sinaloa Cartel associate, Rigoberto Campos Salcido (alias "El Rigo"), prompting bigger conflicts with Guzmán. In early 1992, a Tijuana Cartel-affiliated and San Diego-based gang known as Calle Treinta kidnapped six of Guzmán’s men in Tijuana, tortured them to attain information, and then shot them execution-style in the backs of their heads. Their bodies were dumped on the outskirts of the city. Shortly after the attack, a car bomb exploded outside one of Guzmán’s properties in Culiacán. No injures were reported, but the drug lord became fully aware of the intended message.
Guzmán and Palma struck back against the Arellano Félix brothers (Tijuana Cartel) with nine killings on 3 September 1992 in Iguala, Guerrero; among the dead included lawyers and family members of Félix Gallardo, who was also believed to have orchestrated the attack against Palma's family. Mexico's Attorney General formed a special unit to look into the killings, but the investigation was called off after the unit found that Guzmán had paid off some of the top police officials in Mexico with $10 million, according to police reports and confessions of ex-police officers. In November 1992, gunmen of Arellano Félix attempted to kill Guzmán as he was traveling in a vehicle through the streets of Guadalajara. Ramón and at least four of his henchmen shot at the moving vehicle with AK-47 assault rifles, but the drug lord managed to escape unharmed. The attack forced Guzmán to leave Guadalajara and live under a false name under fears of future attacks. He and Palma, however, responded to the assassination attempt in a similar fashion; several days later, on 8 November 1992, a large commando of the Sinaloa Cartel posing as policemen stormed the Christine discothèque in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, spotted Ramón and Francisco Javier Arellano Félix, and opened fire at them. The shooting lasted for at least eight minutes, and more than 1,000 rounds were fired from both Guzmán's and Arellano Félix's gunmen. Six people were killed in the shootout, but the Arellano Félix brothers were in the restroom when the raid started and reportedly escaped through an air-conditioning duct before leaving the scene in one of their vehicles. On 9 and 10 December 1992, four alleged associates of Félix Gallardo were killed. The antagonism between Guzmán's Sinaloa Cartel and the Arellano Félix clan left several more dead and was accompanied by violent acts in the states of Baja California, Sonora, Sinaloa, Durango, Jalisco, Guerrero, Michoacán and Oaxaca.
The war between both groups continued for six more months, yet none of their respective leaders were killed. In mid-1993, the Arellano Félix clan sent their top gunmen on a final mission to kill Guzmán in Guadalajara, where he moved around frequently to avoid any possible attacks. Having no success, the Tijuana Cartel hitmen decided to return to Baja California on 24 May 1993. As Francisco Javier was at the Guadalajara International Airport booking his flight to Tijuana, informant tips notified him that Guzmán was at the airport parking lot awaiting a flight to Puerto Vallarta. Having spotted the white Mercury Grand Marquis car where Guzmán was thought to be hiding, about 20 gunmen of the Tijuana Cartel descended from three jeep-like vehicles and opened fire at around 4:10 p.m. However, the drug lord was inside a green Buick sedan a short distance from the target. Inside the Mercury Grand Marquis was the Cardinal and Archbishop of Guadalajara Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo, who died at the scene from fourteen gunshot wounds. Six other people, including the cardinal's chauffeur, were caught in the crossfire and killed. Amidst the shootout and confusion, Guzmán escaped in a taxi and headed to one of his safe houses in Bugambilias, a neighborhood 20 minutes away from the airport. News of the death of the cardinal quickly circulated across Mexico and the rest of the world.
Exodus and arrest: 1993
The night the cardinal was killed, President Carlos Salinas de Gortari flew to Guadalajara and condemned the attack, stating it was "a criminal act" that targeted innocent civilians, but he did not give any indications of the involvement of organized crime. The death of such a high-profile religious figure like Posadas Ocampo outraged the Mexican public, the Catholic Church, and many politicians. The government responded by carrying out a massive manhunt to arrest the people involved in the shootout, and offered about US$5 million bounties for each of them. Pictures of Guzmán's face, previously unknown to the public, started to appear in newspapers and television programs across Mexico. Fearing his capture, Guzmán fled Guadalajara and hid in Tonalá, Jalisco, where he reportedly owned a ranch. The drug lord then fled to Mexico City and stayed at a hotel for about ten days. He met with one of his associates in an unknown location and handed him US$200 million to provide for his family in case of his absence. He gave that same amount to another of his employees to make sure the Sinaloa Cartel ran its day-to-day activities smoothly in case he was gone for some time.
After obtaining a passport with the fake name of Jorge Ramos Pérez, Guzmán was transported to the southern state of Chiapas by one of his trusted associates before leaving the country and settling in Guatemala on 4 June 1993. His plan was to move across Guatemala with his girlfriend María del Rocío del Villar Becerra and several of his bodyguards and settle in El Salvador. During his travel, Mexican and Guatemalan authorities had the drug lord on their radar. Guzmán had bribed a Guatemalan military official with US$1.2 million in order to hide south of the Mexican border. The unnamed official, however, was working as an infiltrated informant and was passing down information of Guzmán's whereabouts to law enforcement.
On 9 June 1993, Guzmán was arrested by the Guatemalan Army at a hotel near Tapachula, close to the Guatemala–Mexico border. He was extradited back to Mexico two days later aboard a military airplane. Guzmán was flown from Guatemala to the airport in Toluca, where he was immediately taken to the Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1 (often referred to simply as "La Palma" or "Altiplano"), a maximum-security prison in Almoloya de Juárez, State of Mexico.
Guzmán's Sinaloa Cartel, at the time of his arrest, is the wealthiest and most powerful of Mexico's drug cartels. It smuggles multi-ton cocaine shipments from Colombia through Mexico to the United States by air, sea and road, and has distribution cells throughout the U.S. The organization has also been involved in the production, smuggling and distribution of Mexican methamphetamine, marijuana, and heroin, as well as heroin from Southeast Asia.
When Palma was arrested by the Mexican Army on 23 June 1995, Guzmán took leadership of the cartel. Palma was later extradited to the United States, where he is in prison on charges of drug trafficking and conspiracy.
After Guzmán's prison escape nearly a decade after his initial arrest, he and close associate Ismael Zambada García became Mexico's undisputed top drug kingpins after the 2003 arrest of their rival Osiel Cárdenas of the Gulf Cartel. Until Guzmán's arrest in 2014, he was considered the "most powerful drug trafficker in the world" by the United States Department of the Treasury. Guzmán also had another close associate, his trusted friend Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel Villarreal.
His drug empire made him a billionaire, and was ranked as the 10th richest man in Mexico and 1,140th in the world in 2011, with a net worth of roughly US$1 billion. To assist his drug trafficking, the Sinaloa Cartel also built a shipping and transport empire. Guzmán has been referred to as the "biggest druglord of all time", and the U.S. DEA considered him "the godfather of the drug world" and strongly believes he surpassed the influence and reach of Pablo Escobar. In 2013, the Chicago Crime Commission named Guzmán "Public Enemy Number One" due to the influence of his criminal network in Chicago (there is no evidence that Guzmán has ever been in that city, however.) The last person to receive such notoriety was Al Capone in 1930.
At the time of his 2014 arrest, Guzmán imported more drugs into the United States than anyone else. He took advantage of the power vacuum created by crackdowns on cartels in Colombia, gaining business and market share there as Colombia's own cartels were decimated. He took similar advantage of the situation when his rival cartels were brought down by an intense crackdown from the Mexican government, but the Sinaloa gang emerged largely unscathed.
After the fall of the Amezcua brothers – founders of the Colima Cartel – in 1999 on methamphetamine trafficking charges, there was a demand for leadership throughout Mexico to coordinate methamphetamine shipments north. Guzmán saw an opportunity and seized it. Easily arranging precursor shipments, Guzmán and Ismael Zambada García ("El Mayo") made use of their previous contacts on Mexico's Pacific coast. Importantly, for the first time, the Colombians would not have to be paid – they simply joined methamphetamine with cocaine shipments. This fact meant no additional money was needed for planes, pilots, boats and bribes; they used the existing infrastructure to pipeline the new product.
Until this point, the Sinaloa Cartel had been a joint venture between Guzmán and Ismael Zambada García; the methamphetamine business would be Guzmán's alone. He cultivated his own ties to China, Thailand and India to import the necessary precursor chemicals. Throughout the mountains of the states of Sinaloa, Durango, Jalisco, Michoacán and Nayarit, Guzmán constructed large methamphetamine laboratories and rapidly expanded his organization.
His habit of moving from place to place allowed him to nurture contacts throughout the country. He was now operating in 17 of 31 Mexican states. With his business expanding, he placed his trusted friend Ignacio Coronel Villarreal in charge of methamphetamine production; this way Guzmán could continue being the boss of bosses. Coronel Villarreal proved so reliable in the Guzmán business that he became known as "Crystal King".
Arrest and escape: 1993–2001
Guzmán was captured in Guatemala on 9 June 1993, extradited to Mexico and sentenced to 20 years, nine months in prison on charges of drug trafficking, criminal association and bribery. He was jailed in at Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1, a maximum-security prison. On 22 November 1995, he was transferred to the maximum security prison Federal Center for Social Rehabilitation No. 2 (also known as "Puente Grande") in Jalisco, after being convicted of three crimes: possession of firearms, drug trafficking and the murder of Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo (the charge would later be dismissed by another judge). He had been tried and sentenced inside the federal prison on the outskirts of Almoloya de Juárez, Mexico State.
While he was in prison, Guzmán's drug empire and cartel continued to operate unabated, run by his brother, Arturo Guzmán Loera, known as El Pollo, with Guzmán himself still considered a major international drug trafficker by Mexico and the U.S. even while he was behind bars. Associates brought him suitcases of cash to bribe prison workers and allow the drug lord to maintain his opulent lifestyle even in prison, with prison guards acting like his servants. He met his longtime mistress and later Sinaloa associate, former police officer Zulema Hernández, while in prison, where she was serving time for armed robbery. Hernández later controlled Sinaloa's expansion into Mexico City, but her body was found in a trunk, carved with multiple Z's, signifying Los Zetas, Sinaloa's archrivals.
While still in prison in Mexico, Guzmán was indicted in San Diego on U.S. charges of money laundering and importing tons of cocaine into California, along with his Sinaloa attorney Humberto Loya-Castro, or Licenciado Perez ("Lawyer Perez"), who was charged with bribing Mexican officials on Sinaloa's behalf and making sure that any cartel members arrested were released from custody. After a ruling by the Supreme Court of Mexico made extradition between Mexico and the United States easier, Guzmán bribed guards to aid his escape. On 19 January 2001, Francisco "El Chito" Camberos Rivera, a prison guard, opened Guzmán's electronically operated cell door, and Guzmán got in a laundry cart that maintenance worker Javier Camberos rolled through several doors and eventually out the front door. He was then transported in the trunk of a car driven by Camberos out of the town. At a gas station, Camberos went inside, but when he came back, Guzmán was gone on foot into the night. According to officials, 78 people have been implicated in his escape plan. Camberos is in prison for his assistance in the escape.
The police say Guzmán carefully masterminded his escape plan, wielding influence over almost everyone in the prison, including the facility's director, who is now in prison for aiding in the escape. One prison guard who came forward to report the situation at the prison was found dead years later, presumed to be killed by Guzmán. Guzmán allegedly had the prison guards on his payroll, smuggled contraband into the prison and received preferential treatment from the staff. In addition to the prison-employee accomplices, police in Jalisco were paid off to ensure he had at least 24 hours to get out of the state and stay ahead of the military manhunt. The story told to the guards, being bribed not to search the laundry cart, was that Guzmán was smuggling gold, ostensibly extracted from rock at the inmate workshop, out of the prison. The escape allegedly cost Guzmán $2.5 million.
Mexican Cartel Wars
Since his escape from prison, Guzmán had been wanting to take over the Ciudad Juárez crossing points, which were under the control of the Carrillo Fuentes family of the Juárez Cartel. Despite a high degree of mistrust between the two organizations, the Sinaloa and Juárez cartels had an alliance at the time. Guzmán convened a meeting in Monterrey with Ismael Zambada García ("El Mayo"), Juan José Esparragoza Moreno ("El Azul") and Arturo Beltrán Leyva and they discussed killing Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes, who was in charge of the Juárez Cartel. On 11 September 2004, Rodolfo, his wife and two young children were visiting a Culiacán shopping mall. While leaving the mall, escorted by police commander Pedro Pérez López, the family was ambushed by members of Los Negros, assassins for the Sinaloa Cartel. Rodolfo and his wife were killed; the policeman survived.
This now meant the plaza would no longer be controlled only by the Carrillo Fuentes family. Instead, the city found itself as the front line in the Mexican Drug War and would see homicides skyrocket as rival cartels fought for control. With this act, Guzmán was the first to break the nonaggression "pact" the major cartels had agreed to, setting in motion the fighting between cartels for drug routes that has claimed more than 50,000 lives since December 2006.
When Mexican President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006, he announced a crackdown on cartels by the Mexican military to stem the increasing violence. After four years, the additional efforts had not slowed the flow of drugs or the killings tied to the drug war. Of the 53,000 arrests made as of 2010, only 1,000 involved associates of the Sinaloa Cartel, which led to suspicions that Calderon was intentionally allowing Sinaloa to win the drug war, a charge Calderon denied in advertisements in Mexican newspapers, pointing to his administration's killing of top Sinaloa deputy "Nacho" Coronel as evidence. Sinaloa's rival cartels saw their leaders killed and syndicates dismantled by the crackdown, but the Sinaloa gang was relatively unaffected and took over the rival gangs' territories, including the coveted Ciudad Juarez-El Paso corridor, in the wake of the power shifts.
Break with the Beltrán Leyva Cartel
A Newsweek investigation alleges that one of Guzmán's techniques for maintaining his dominance among cartels included giving information to the DEA and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that led to the arrests of his enemies in the Juárez Cartel, in addition to information that led to the arrests of some of the top Sinaloa leaders. The arrests are said to have been part of a deal Guzmán struck with Calderon and the DEA, in which he intentionally gave up some of his purported Sinaloa colleagues to USA agents in exchange for immunity from prosecution, while perpetuating the idea that the Calderón government was heavily pursuing his organization during the cartel crackdown.
This became a key factor influencing the break between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Beltrán Leyva brothers, five brothers who served as Guzmán's top lieutenants, primarily working for the cartel in the northern region of Sinaloa. Sinaloa lawyer Loya-Castro, who like Guzmán had been wanted on federal charges in the United States since 1993, voluntarily approached the DEA offering them information in 1998, eventually signing paperwork as a formal informant in 2005, and his U.S. indictment was thrown out in 2008. Loya-Castro's leaks to the DEA led to the dismantling of the Tijuana Cartel, as well as the Mexican Army's arrest of Guzmán's lieutenant and the top commander of the Beltrán Leyva organization, Alfredo Beltrán Leyva (a.k.a. El Mochomo, or "Desert Ant"), in Culiacan in January 2008, with Guzmán believed to have given up El Mochomo for various reasons. Guzmán had been voicing concerns with Alfredo Beltrán's lifestyle and high-profile actions for some time before his arrest. After El Mochomo's arrest, authorities said he was in charge of two hit squads, money laundering, transporting drugs and bribing officials for Sinaloa.
That high-profile arrest was followed by the arrest of 11 Beltrán Leyva hit squad members in Mexico City, with police noting that the arrests were the first evidence that Sinaloa had expanded into the capital city. United States Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza called the arrests a "significant victory" in the drug war. With Alfredo in custody, his brother Arturo Beltrán Leyva took over as the brothers' top commander, but he was killed in a shootout with Mexican marines the next year.
Whether Guzmán was responsible for Alfredo Beltrán's arrest is not known. However, the Beltrán Leyvas and their allies suspected he was behind it, and after Alfredo Beltrán's arrest, a formal "war" was declared. An attempt on the life of cartel head Zambada's son Vicente Zambada Niebla (El Vincentillo) was made just hours after the declaration. Dozens of killings followed in retaliation for that attempt. The Beltrán Leyva brothers ordered the assassination of Guzmán's son, Édgar Guzmán Lopez, on 8 May 2008, in Culiacán, which brought massive retaliation from Guzmán. They were also fighting over the allegiance of the Flores brothers, Margarito and Pedro, leaders of a major, highly lucrative cell in Chicago that distributed over two tons of cocaine every month. The Mexican military claims that Guzmán and the Beltrán Leyva brothers were at odds over Guzmán's relationship with the Valencia brothers in Michoacán.
Following the killing of Guzmán's son Édgar, violence increased. From 8 May through the end of the month, over 116 people were murdered in Culiacán, 26 of them police officers. In June 2008, over 128 were killed; in July, 143 were slain. Gen. Noé Sandoval ordered another 2,000 troops to the area, but it failed to stop the war. The wave of violence spread to other cities like Guamúchil, Guasave and Mazatlán.
However, the Beltrán Leyva brothers were doing some double-dealing of their own. Arturo and Alfredo had met with top members of Los Zetas in Cuernavaca, where they agreed to form an alliance to fill the power vacuum. They would not necessarily go after the main strongholds, such as the Sinaloa and Gulf Cartel; instead, they would seek control of southern states like Guerrero (where the Beltrán Leyvas already had a big stake), Oaxaca, Yucatán and Quintana Roo. They worked their way into the center of the country, where no single group had control. The Beltrán Leyva organization allied with the Gulf Cartel and its hit squad Los Zetas against Sinaloa.
The split was officially recognized by the U.S. government on 30 May 2008. On that day, it recognized the Beltrán Leyva brothers as leaders of their own cartel. President George W. Bush designated Marcos Arturo Beltrán Leyva and the Beltrán Leyva Organization as subject to sanction under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act ("Kingpin Act").
Whereabouts and manhunt: 2001–2014
Guzmán was notable among drug lords for his longevity and evasion of authorities, assisted by alleged bribes to federal, state and local Mexican officials. Despite the progress made in arresting others in the aftermath of Guzmán's escape, including a handful of his top logistics and security men, the huge military and federal police manhunt failed to capture Guzmán himself for years. In the years between his escape and capture, he was Mexico's most-wanted man. His elusiveness from law enforcement was made him a near-legendary figure in Mexico's narco folklore; stories abounded that Guzmán sometimes strolled into restaurants, confiscated peoples' cellphones, ate his meal, and then left after paying everyone's tabs. Rumors circulated of Guzmán being seen in different parts of Mexico and abroad. For more than thirteen years, Mexican security forces coordinated many operatives to re-arrest him, but their efforts were largely in vain because Guzmán appeared to be steps ahead from his captors.
Although his whereabouts were unknown, the authorities believed that he was likely hiding in the "Golden Triangle" (Spanish: Triángulo Dorado), an area that encompasses parts of Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua in the Sierra Madre region. The region is a major producer of marijuana and opium poppy in Mexico, and its remoteness from the urban areas makes it an attractive territory for the production of synthetic drugs in clandestine labs and for its mountains that serve as possible hideouts. Guzmán reportedly commanded a sophisticated security circle of at least 300 informants and gunmen resembling the manpower equivalent to those of a head of state. His inner circle would help him move around through several isolated ranches in the mountainous area and avoid capture. He usually escaped from law enforcement using bullet-proof cars, aircraft, and all-terrain vehicles, and was known to employ sophisticated communications gadgetry and counterespionage practices. Since many of these locations in the Golden Triangle can only be reached through single-track dirt roads, local residents easily detected the arrival of law enforcement or any outsiders. Their distrust towards non-residents and their aversion towards the government, alongside a combination of bribery and intimidation, helped keep the locals loyal to Guzmán and the Sinaloa Cartel in the area. According to law enforcement intelligence, attempting to have launched an attack to capture Guzmán via air would have issued similar results; his security circle would have notified the presence of an aircraft 10 minutes away from Guzmán’s location, giving him ample time to escape the scene and avoid arrest. In addition, his gunmen reportedly carried surface-to-air missiles that may bring down aircraft in the area.
Although Guzmán had long hidden successfully in remote areas of the Sierra Madre mountains, the arrested members of his security team told the military he had begun venturing out to Culiacán and the beach town of Mazatlán. A week prior to his capture, Guzmán and Zambada were reported to have attended a family reunion in Sinaloa. The Mexican military followed the bodyguards' tips to Guzmán’s ex-wife's house, but they had trouble ramming the steel-reinforced front door, which allowed Guzmán to escape through a system of secret tunnels that connected six houses, eventually moving south to Mazatlán. He had planned to stay a few days in Mazatlán to see his twin baby daughters before retreating to the mountains.
On 22 February 2014, at around 6:40 a.m., Mexican authorities arrested Guzmán at a hotel in a beach front area in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, following an operation by the Mexican Navy, with joint intelligence from the DEA and the U.S. Marshals Service. A few days before his capture, Mexican authorities had been raiding several properties owned by members of the Sinaloa Cartel who were close to Guzmán throughout the state of Sinaloa. The operation that led to his capture started at 3:45 a.m., when 10 pick-up trucks of the Mexican Navy carrying over 65 soldiers made their way to the resort area. Guzmán was hiding at the Miramar condominiums, located at #608 in Avenida de Mar street. Mexican and U.S. federal agents had leads that the drug lord was at that location for at least two days, and that he was staying on the condominium's fourth floor, in Room 401. When the Mexican authorities arrived at the location, they quickly subdued Carlos Manuel Hoo Ramírez, one of Guzmán's presumed bodyguards, before quietly making their way to the fourth floor through the elevators and stairs. Once they were at Guzmán's front door, they broke into the condo and stormed the two rooms it had. In one of the rooms was Guzmán, lying in bed with his wife (ex-beauty queen Emma Coronel Aispuro). Their two daughters were reported to have been at the condo during the arrest. Guzmán tried to resist arrest physically, but he did not attempt to grab an assault rifle he had close to him. Amid the quarrel with the marines, the drug lord was hit four times. By 6:40 a.m., he was arrested, taken to the ground floor, and walked to the condo's parking lot, where the first photos of his capture were taken. His identity was confirmed through a fingerprint examination immediately following his capture. He was then flown to Mexico City, the country's capital, for formal identification. According to the Mexican government, no shots were fired during the operation.
Few details of the drug lord's arrest were available early in the morning while the mug shot of Guzmán, handcuffed and with a few cuts on his face, circulated among law enforcement. Guzmán was presented in front of cameras during a press conference at the Mexico City International Airport that afternoon. Following the press conference, he was transferred to the Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1, a maximum-security prison in Almoloya de Juárez, State of Mexico, at around 2:55 p.m via a Federal Police Black Hawk helicopter. The helicopter was escorted by two Navy helicopters and one from the Mexican Air Force. Surveillance inside the penitentiary and in the surrounding areas was increased by a large contingency of law enforcement.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto confirmed the arrest through Twitter and congratulated the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA), Secretariat of the Navy (SEMAR), Office of the General Prosecutor (PGR), the Federal Police, and the Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional (CISEN) for Guzmán's capture. Within Mexico, several politicians recognized the efforts of the Mexican government in capturing Guzmán, including the former Presidents Vicente Fox (2000–2006) and Felipe Calderón (2006–2012). In the United States, the Attorney General Eric Holder said Guzmán had caused "death and destruction of millions of lives across the globe" and called the arrest "a landmark achievement, and a victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States." Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos telephoned Peña Nieto and congratulated him for the arrest of Guzmán, highlighting its importance in the international efforts against drug trafficking. Colombia's Defense Minister, Juan Carlos Pinzón, congratulated Mexico on Guzmán's arrest and stated that his capture "contributes to eradicate this crime (drug trafficking) in the region". The Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina congratulated the Mexican government for the arrest. He said he would communicate personally with Peña Nieto to congratulate him. Costa Rica's President Laura Chinchilla congratulated the Mexican government through Twitter for the capture too. The French government extended its congratulations on February 24 and supported the Mexican security forces in their combat against organized crime. News of Guzmán's capture made it to the front lines of many news outlets across the U.S., Latin America, and Europe. On Twitter, Mexico and Guzmán's capture were trending topics throughout most of 22 February 2014.
Bob Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office for the District Court for the Eastern District of New York, announced that USA authorities plan to seek the extradition of Guzmán for several cases pending against him in New York and other United States jurisdictions.
Charges and imprisonment
Guzmán was imprisoned in area #20, Hallway #1, on 22 February 2014. The area where he lives is highly restricted; the cells do not have any windows, inmates are not allowed to interact with one another, and they are not permitted to contact their family members. His cell is close to those of José Jorge Balderas (alias "El JJ"), former lieutenant of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel, and Jaime González Durán (alias "El Hummer"), a former leader of Los Zetas drug cartel. In one of the other units is Miguel Ángel Guzmán Loera, one of his brothers. Guzmán is alone in his cell, and has one bed, one shower, and a single toilet. His lawyer is Óscar Quirarte, who was accredited by the government. Guzmán is allowed to receive visits from his family members every nine days from 09:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (if approved by a judge), and is granted by law to receive MXN$638 (about US$48) every month to buy products for personal hygiene. He lives under 23 hours of solitary confinement with an hour of outdoor exposure. He is only allowed to speak with people during his judicial hearings (the prison guards that secure his cell 24/7 are not allowed to speak with him). Unlike the other inmates, Guzmán is prohibited from practicing sport or cultural activities. These conditions are court-approved and can only be changed if a federal judge decides to amend them.
On 24 February, the Mexican government formally charged Guzmán for drug trafficking, a process that may slow down his possible extradition to the U.S. The decision to initially file only one charge against him showed that the Mexican government was working on gathering more formal charges against Guzmán, and possibly including the charges he faced prior to his escape from prison in 2001. The kingpin also faces charges in at least seven U.S. jurisdictions, and USA officials have called for his extradition (though no formal extradition request by the U.S. government exists at this time). Guzmán was initially granted a writ of amparo (effectively equivalent to an injunction) preventing immediate extradition to the United States. On 25 February, a Mexican federal judge set the trial to motion for drug-related and organized crime charges. According to Mexican law, if Guzmán is found guilty of such charges, he may face 20 and up to 40 years in prison. On 4 March 2014, a Mexican federal court issued a formal charge against Guzmán for his involvement in organized crime. A day later, another Mexican federal court charged him with organized crime and drug trafficking violations.
On 5 March 2014, a Mexico City federal court rejected Guzmán's injunction against extradition to the U.S. under the rationale that the U.S. officials had not formally requested his extradition from Mexico. The court said that if the U.S. files a request in the future, Guzmán can petition another injunction. The court had until 9 April 2014 to emit a formal declaration of the injunction's rejection, and Guzmán's lawyers can appeal the court's decision in the meantime. The same day the injunction's rejection was made, another federal court issued formal charges against Guzmán, totaling up to five different Mexican federal courts where he is wanted for drug trafficking and organized crime charges. The court explained that although Guzmán faces charges in several different courts, he cannot be sentenced for the same crime twice because that would violate Article 23 of the Constitution of Mexico.
On 17 April 2014, the Attorney General of Mexico, Jesús Murillo Karam, said that Mexico had no intention of extraditing Guzmán to the U.S. even if a formal request were to be presented. He said he wished to see Guzmán face charges in Mexico, and expressed his disagreement with how the U.S. cuts deals with extradited Mexican criminals by reducing their sentences (like Vicente Zambada Niebla's case) in exchange for information.
On 16 July 2014, Guzmán reportedly helped organize a five-day hunger strike in the prison in cooperation with inmate and former drug lord Edgar Valdez Villarreal (alias "La Barbie"). Over 1,000 prisoners reportedly went in protest and complained of the prison's poor hygiene, food, and medical treatment. The Mexican government confirmed that the strike took place and that the prisoners's demands were satisfied, but discarded that Guzmán or Valdez Villarreal were involved in it given their status as prisoners under solitary confinement.
Guzmán's family is heavily involved in drug trafficking, with several members killed by Sinaloa's archrival cartels Los Zetas and the Beltran Leyva Organization, including his brother and one of his sons.
In 1977, Guzmán married Alejandrina María Salazar Hernández in a small ceremony in the town of Jesús María, Sinaloa. They had at least three children: César, Iván Archivaldo and Jesús Alfredo. He set them up in a ranch home in Jesús María. In the mid-1980s, Guzmán remarried, this time to Griselda López Pérez, with whom he had four more children: Édgar, Joaquín, Ovidio and Griselda Guadalupe. Guzmán's sons would follow him into the drug business. Only one of his children, Irving Andre, is not involved. López Pérez was arrested in 2010 in Culiacán.
In November 2007, Guzmán married 18-year-old beauty queen Emma Coronel Aispuro the daughter of one of his top deputies, Inés Coronel Barreras, in Canelas, Durango. In August 2011, Coronel Aispuro, a citizen of the United States, gave birth to twin girls in a Los Angeles (California) County Hospital.
On 1 May 2013, Guzmán's father-in-law Inés Coronel Barreras was captured by Mexican authorities in Agua Prieta, Sonora, with no gunfire exchanged. U.S. authorities believe that Coronel Barreras was a "key operative" of the Sinaloa Cartel who grew and smuggled marijuana through the Arizona border area.
On 15 February 2005, his son Iván Archivaldo, known as "El Chapito", was arrested in Guadalajara on money laundering charges. He was sentenced to five years in a federal prison, but released in April 2008 after a Mexican federal judge, Jesús Guadalupe Luna, ruled that there was no proof his cash came from drugs other than that he was a drug lord's son. Luna and another judge were later suspended on suspicion of unspecified irregularities in their decisions, including Luna's decision to release "El Chapito". In June 2005, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrested his brother, two nephews and a niece. They also seized nine houses and six vehicles. Some of the arrests took place in U.S. cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Oakland.
Guzmán's son Édgar Guzmán López died after a 2008 ambush in a shopping center parking lot in Culiacán in Sinaloa. Afterwards, police found more than 500 AK-47 bullet casings (7.62×39mm) at the scene. His brother Arturo, or "El Pollo," was killed in prison in 2004.
Another of Guzmán's sons, Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, known as "El Gordo" ("The Fat One"), then 23 years old, was suspected of being a member of the cartel and was indicted on federal charges of drug trafficking in 2009 with Guzmán by the U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois, which oversees Chicago. With authorities describing Guzmán Salazar as a growing force within his father's organization and directly responsible for Sinaloa's drug trade between the U.S. and Mexico and managing his billionaire father's growing list of properties, Guzmán Salazar and his mother, Guzmán's ex-wife María Alejandrina Salazar Hernández, were both described as key operatives in the Sinaloa Cartel and added to the USA's financial sanction list under the Kingpin Act on 7 June 2012.
The Treasury Department described Salazar as Guzmán's wife in its sanction against her and described Guzmán as her husband. The month before, the U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against Guzmán's sons Iván Guzmán Salazar and Ovidio Guzmán López under the Kingpin Act, which prohibits people and corporations in the U.S. from conducting businesses with them and freezes their U.S. assets. Guzmán's second wife, Griselda López Pérez, was also sanctioned by the U.S. under the Kingpin Act and also described as Guzmán's wife.
Jesús Guzmán Salazar was reported as detained by Mexican Marines in an early morning raid in the western state of Jalisco on 21 June 2012. Months later, however, the Mexican Attorney General's Office announced the Marines had arrested the wrong man and that the man captured was actually Felix Beltran Leon, who said he was a used-car dealer, not the drug lord's son. Both U.S. and Mexican authorities blamed the other for providing the inaccurate information that led to the arrest.
In 2012, Alejandrina Gisselle Guzmán Salazar, a 31-year-old pregnant physician and Mexican citizen from Guadalajara, was said to have claimed she was Guzmán's daughter as she crossed the USA border into San Diego. She was arrested on fraud charges for entering the border under a false visa. Unnamed officials said the woman was the daughter of María Alejandrina Salazar Hernández but did not appear to be a major figure in the cartel. She had planned to meet the father of her child in Los Angeles and give birth in the United States.
On the night of 17 June 2012, Obied Cano Zepeda, a nephew of Guzmán, was gunned down by unknown assailants at his home in the state capital of Culiacán while hosting a Father's Day celebration. The gunmen, who were reportedly carrying AK-47 rifles, also killed two other guests and left one seriously injured. Obied was a brother of Luis Alberto Cano Zepeda (aka El Blanco), a nephew of Guzmán who worked as a pilot drug transporter for the Sinaloa cartel. Nonetheless, he was arrested by the Mexican military in August 2006. InSight Crime notes that the murder of Obied may be a retaliation attack by Los Zetas for Guzmán's incursions in their territory or a brutal campaign heralding Los Zetas' presence in Sinaloa.
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