WORLD US trial to tell epic tale of Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo'

WORLD

US trial to tell epic tale of Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo'

AP

02:19, November 14, 2018

el chapo.JPG

In this Jan. 19, 2017 file photo provided US law enforcement, authorities escort Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, center, from a plane to a waiting caravan of SUVs at Long Island MacArthur Airport, in Ronkonkoma, NY (File photo: AP)

During the height of Mexican drug wars in 1993, an attempted hit on Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman went wrong.

A team of gunmen sent to rub out the notorious drug lord instead killed a Roman Catholic cardinal at an airport in Guadalajara, outraging the Mexican public enough to touch off a massive manhunt for Guzman. He was captured, but prosecutors say he was undeterred from a brutal pursuit of power that lasted decades, featured jail breakouts and left a trail of bodies.

During the height of Mexican drug wars in 1993, an attempted hit on Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman went wrong.

A team of gunmen sent to rub out the notorious drug lord instead killed a Roman Catholic cardinal at an airport in Guadalajara, outraging the Mexican public enough to touch off a massive manhunt for Guzman. He was captured, but prosecutors say he was undeterred from a brutal pursuit of power that lasted decades, featured jail breakouts and left a trail of bodies.

Among the highlights of his lore: He was known for carrying a gold-plated AK-47, for smuggling cocaine in cans marked as jalapenos and for making shipments using planes with secret landing strips as well as container ships, speedboats and even submarines.

But Guzman is perhaps best known for escaping custody in Mexico, the first time in 2011 by hiding in the bottom of a laundry bin. He escaped again in 2015 through a mile-long tunnel dug into a shower in his jail cell that he slipped into before fleeing on a motorcycle.

Guzman’s second escape was a black eye for the Mexican government, an embarrassment amplified when the actor Sean Penn was able to find and interview him at one of his hideouts in Mexico while he was on the run from authorities.

Guzman’s extradition to New York City shook up Mexico’s drug underworld.

Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said it created “something of a civil war within the Sinaloa cartel” that has essentially ended with the arrest of internal rivals and allowed his sons to take control of what remains a “weakened” but far-from-finished smuggling operation.

Hope said he has seen no sign that Guzman’s extradition and jailing in the US had a major impact on drug flows or routes.

“But symbolically I think it’s important. It’s a bit of an end of an era. There are very few kingpins of that size left, of that importance,” Hope said. “We are actually leaving behind that era, the era of the kingpin.” Smaller gangs now dominate, he said.

Raul Benitez, a security expert and professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said Guzman’s oversized myth has been fading, too.

In Mexico, news stories about Guzman’s trial have been prominent in the media even though it’s viewed by some as old history.

“He is totally isolated. He cannot approach anyone. His wife was not even able to approach him. So he is now out of the game,” Benitez said, referring to an order by the judge banning Guzman’s wife from hugging him in the courtroom during the trial.

Whether he is out for good will be decided by an anonymous jury of 12 men and women who will decide the case. The trial is expected to last into next year.

Related Stories

Terms of Service & Privacy Policy

We have updated our privacy policy to comply with the latest laws and regulations. The updated policy explains the mechanism of how we collect and treat your personal data. You can learn more about the rights you have by reading our terms of service. Please read them carefully. By clicking AGREE, you indicate that you have read and agreed to our privacy policies

Agree and continue