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El Chapo Is Down, But the Drugs Keep Coming (and other related stories)

  1. Basoodler

    The events of the morning of Saturday February 22 have now passed into popular legend in Mexico. At 6:40 a.m., agents of the Mexican navy stormed into a beachfront condo in the town of Mazatlán in the state of Sinaloa, where they found the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias El Chapo (or Shorty) asleep in bed with his wife and an AK-47. El Chapo’s two young children were asleep in a crib nearby. Across Mexico and around the world experts, analysts, and the general public reacted with shock at the news. Most people assumed that this near-mythical figure could not be captured, others that the government was not serious about bringing him to justice.

    But Guzmán’s peaceful arrest, “without a single shot being fired” (in the words of the Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam), is just the first event in a chain reaction that is now in motion. In addition to the questions surrounding his trial, incarceration, and possible extradition to the United States, many are asking what this means for the Sinaloa Cartel, for the business of moving drugs to the United States, for the standing of the Mexican government, and most importantly, for public security in Mexico.

    To address the first point, we must say the capture of El Chapo will, in itself, not seriously challenge the Sinaloa Cartel’s operational capacity. The cartel is well-organized and has experienced lieutenants in place in all of the major areas where it conducts its business. The supposed successor to Guzmán, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, is a seasoned veteran of the cartel and has already been handling many of the duties of running business in the organization. The cartel has enough resilience to withstand the removal of its top figure; this is what makes it imperative for the Mexican government to carry out a sustained assault on the cartel if it intends to disrupt the organization’s activities.

    The last three decades of the “drug war” in Colombia offer a glimpse into what Mexico might expect in the aftermath of Guzmán’s arrest. Following the capture or killing of senior leaders of Colombia’s Medellín, Cali and Norte del Valle cartels, their hierarchical, vertically-integrated structures were replaced by smaller criminal organizations with more fluid leadership. U.S. scholar Bruce Bagley has dubbed this process of fragmentation the “cockroach effect.” Not only does the proliferation of smaller organizations make them harder to combat, they continually morph and adapt in response to changes in the state policies to combat them.

    As inventive, albeit illegal entrepreneurs, drug cartels constantly seek new market opportunities, both domestically and in new regions such as Africa. Unlike in Mexico, Colombia’s internal armed conflict has provided ample opportunities for trafficking organizations to ally with guerrillas or former paramilitary groups, increasing not only the lethality of the drug trade (and its consequences for the civilian population) but also transforming the nature of the insurgent groups themselves.

    Understanding the internal structure of the Sinaloa cartel is thus crucial. Rather than simply a top-down, vertical hierarchy, Sinaloa is better visualized as a series of “nodes” around which activity is organized. Mexican scholar Victor Sánchez has recently demonstrated how an effective campaign against Sinaloa would have to remove multiple leaders before the flow of drugs is affected. Indeed, the general consensus in Mexico and the United States is now that El Chapo’s arrest will do little to stem the flow of drugs northward, with demand driving supply more than any other factor.

    The capture is of significant importance, however, in establishing the credibility of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s security and organized crime strategy, which has been heavily criticized for focusing too much on violence reduction and crime prevention rather than taking on the criminals themselves. This highest profile arrest gives the president and his security team ammunition to reject such attacks and the inspiration to continue the struggle.

    However, we should not expect a major change in the short term. Just as some of the security advances in Colombia in the 2000s pushed trafficking routes into Mexico, gains in one arena produce setbacks in others. The consequences may be unintended, but they are not unpredictable. As long as demand for drugs remains robust and profits sky-high, we will continue to chase, if not this Chapo, then others who arise to take his place.

    Feb. 27 2014


  1. Basoodler
    El Chapo Guzman to Be Released?

    El Chapo Guzman to Be Released? At least that is what the people of Sinaloa demand. As stated by the New York Daily News “One person’s drug lord is another person’s hero.

    ” The capital of Sinaloa demonstrated support for the release of El Chapo, hundreds of people wearing white marched, and chanted with signs that stated their love and appreciation for El Chapo. Many believe El Chapo supported his community and deserves to be released. Federal judges in Mexico ruled on Tuesday that El Chapo must face 2 separate trials on charges of trafficking and organized crime. Although he has charges pending in Chicago and in New York City, it is not believed he will be extradited anytime soon.

    Protesters threw water bottles at police causing the police to use tear gas and arrest many of them.

    Children and families marched while dressed in white and carrying banners that read about the goodness of El Chapo, and about El Chapo being the protector and defender of the public. El Chapo Guzman to be released, is what the people demand. How can a man who is known for cutting the heads off his enemies be so loved by the community? Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was born into poverty, with only a grade 1 education, he went on to become one of the world’s richest and most powerful men. He is estimated to make $1 billion a year, and have a staff of over 150,000. He has even been given the title of Public Enemy Number 1 in Chicago, a title that has been long attributed to Al Capone. How did the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel become the most loved criminal in Sinaloa? His rags to riches story resonates with the community.

    The Sinaloa community also feel protected from other cartels, permitting the community to be relatively free of the violence that encompassed the over 100,000 deaths due to the cartel wars in Mexico. The cartel also provides employment to the poor, more specifically those in the mountains. And hires Sinaloan miners to construct the famous tunnels they use to move drugs into the US.

    El Chapo was previously captured in 1993 in Guatemala and extradited to Mexico to serve a sentence on charges of drug trafficking and bribery, among others. There have been rumours that through bribery he was able to continue living his accustomed lifestyle from prison. According to journalist Anabel Hernandez, whom was interviewed for Univision, prison was more like a party for El Chapo. He was allowed prostitutes and drugs, as well as to conduct business from within. Reporter Geraldo Reyes described it as a 5-star resort, a feat he was able to accomplish through bribes that consisted of deliveries of large suitcases filled with money, and intimidation.The release of El Chapo will not happen, but El Chapo may just walk out once again. El Chapo walked out of the prison in 2001, the walkout reportedly cost him $2.5 million in bribes. If El Chapo stays in Mexico will he walk out the same way? According to Forbes, this is one of the biggest risks of keeping him in Mexico. He has the resources to bribe authorities into once again running his business from prison, or even escaping.

    Added by Dony Lugo on February 28, 2014.
    Saved under Dony Lugo, Mexico, World

    Daily News
    The Sydney Morning Herald

  2. Basoodler

    Mexican Kingpin's Fall Clouds Future of Drug Heartland -

    In villages nestled amid the jagged mountains where captured Mexican kingpin Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman was born, the drug trade that dominates the local economy is far from finished.

    Guzman, arrested last weekend, started life in the village of La Tuna high in the sierra of Mexico's northwestern state of Sinaloa. Marijuana and the poppies used for opium have been grown here for decades, fuelling the rise of successive dynasties of famous drug lords.

    The military engages in a continual search for fields of marijuana and poppies between the rocky slopes of the surrounding mountains.

    It's been a long time since Mexico's no.1 drug kingpin has returned home, and many La Tuna's locals miss the local farmer's son that went on to become one of the world's most wanted men.

    "Everyone is asking for him to be freed, that he be let out because we miss "El Chapito" here. He hasn't come here because of the feds," said this unidentified resident.

    Guzman, known by his nickname "Chapo" (or "Shorty"), was arrested on Saturday (February 22) when Mexican marines stormed a condominium in the beach resort of Mazatlan.

    It was a major victory for the government in its long, brutal war on drug cartels, whose feuds have claimed more than 80,000 lives in the country since 2007.

    The news shocked local residents, who think of Guzman as one of the most powerful people in Mexico, bathed in riches that for years allowed him to pay off police and politicians and even escape from prison in 2001.

    For many of the youngsters growing up in the surrounding hillsides, Guzman is a role model and a hero, holding out hope for a life of power, women and wealth in a land where the only alternative for many is to toil in the fields or join the vast informal economy of street merchants.

    "In the mountains it needs to be recognised, the way of life of the people is to sow (drugs), a farm activity that complements the other. But unfortunately the business of drug sowing in this particular case is marijuana. Production has fallen, as well as it's price and this means that it's not profitable," said Mayor of Badiraguato Municipality, home to La Tuna, Mario Valenzuela.

    Guzman and his Sinaloa cartel are suspected of shipping billions of dollars worth of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana north across the border into the United States.

    Residents of Sinaloa are also credited with helping to build Guzman's billion-dollar drug empire by selling drugs or raising marijuana or poppy flowers in the mountains as an extra source of income.

    In the Sinaloan capital of Culiacan, more than a thousand people filled the streets in support of their homegrown cartel king.

    While Guzman's feared Sinaloa Cartel fed the U.S. craving for illegal narcotics, it also hooked the economy of his home state on the southward flow of drug money.

    Many locals credit Guzman and his gang for keeping the city free of the extortions and kidnappings that plague other parts of Mexico, where rival gangs reign.

    "He's our idol because we have faith in him and there is no confidence in justice. We ask for respect above all else," said this unidentified local.

    Chanting "free shorty", supporters want Guzman released.

    "No extradition for "El Chapo" and that they free him, that's all," said this protester.

    With Sinaloa better known as the heartland of Guzman's vast drug empire, state Governor Mario Lopez rejected calls from locals to free the drug kingpin.

    "I think this march is something uncalled for for up-standing citizens of Sinaloans. For me and for good Sinaloans we will continue the fight so we are seen as a hard-working state," said Lopez.

    Meanwhile the street buzzes with rumours. If Guzman really is gone, people fear that the notoriously violent Zetas gang, infamous for decapitations and mass executions, could move into the home turf of Mexico's drug-trafficking royalty.

    Mexican prosecutors charged Guzman with drug trafficking offences soon after his arrest in the Pacific port of Mazatlan by Mexican marines assisted by U.S. intelligence.

    Just days before, he had reportedly escaped the clutches of Mexican troops through a tunnel and sewer that led from the Culiacan home of a former wife.

    Authorities said 16 houses and four ranches have been seized as part of a web of properties Guzman allegedly used to move between as part of his life on the run.

    But it is not the first time Guzman has been caught. In 2001, he famously escaped a Mexican prison, reportedly in a laundry cart, and went on to become the country's highest-profile trafficker. He is believed to command groups of hitmen from the U.S. border into Central America.

    He has been indicted in the United States on dozens of charges of racketeering and conspiracy to import cocaine, heroin, marijuana and crystal meth. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn said on Sunday that it would seek Guzman's extradition.

    Forbes had put Guzman on its list of billionaires but then dropped him last year because it was impossible to verify his wealth. -

    : http://www.ntd.tv/en/news/world/sou...e-of-drug-heartland.html#sthash.YnRI7L6G.dpuf
  3. Basoodler
    This whole region that has been economicly supported by drug money is interesting to me. The idea that through money laundering this cartel has improved this area by providing jobs and luxuries way beyond what the actual government can provide. The cartel security has also improved crime rates and security.. Minus a few cartel related shoot outs and assassinations..

    Its a yin yang
  4. rawbeer
    Even tho' the fact that our current worldview seems to color everything in the language of economics irritates me (remember when things were good for 'society', not 'the economy'?) the drug war needs to be assessed as an economic dilemma. We look at it as a military struggle, as if these guys are combating us somehow. As if their motivation is winning, when it's really just making cash. We force the military metaphor on the situation when it isn't really valid.

    And then we score these empty victories and act upset that the drugs keep flowing, as if breaking up the Standard Oil monopoly was meant to end the supply of petroleum. It just stimulates competition. I guess you could even argue we're helping the cocaine market by doing this! According to some conspiracy theories that is the intended goal. Certainly a lot of well-heeled people do not want this trade to end.

    It's frustrating how we hold economics in an almost religious light but we just refuse to see drugs in the same way. We're beginning to, partly by force. The invisible hand is shoving its finger up our assholes...
  5. Basoodler
    New Poll: More Than Half Of Mexicans Think Drug Lord El Chapo Guzmán Is More Powerful Than The Mexican Government

    Fifty three percent of Mexicans think that Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán is more powerful than the Mexican government, 20% believe the opposite and 27% did not know, according to the first poll conducted since the powerful drug lord was arrested on February 22 in Mexico.

    Since 2009, El Chapo has been included in Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful People list. In 2013, only three Mexicans made the ranking: President Enrique Peña Nieto, billionaire Carlos Slim Helú and El Chapo Guzmán, who ranked 67th out of 72.

    The survey, conducted by Jana, a Boston-based company, shows Mexicans less divided when it comes to the issue of whether Guzmán should face justice in Mexico or be sent to the U.S., where he has been indicted in eight federal district courts. As many as 44% said that Guzmán should be extradited to the U.S. for trial, 38 % said he should not, and 18% were undecided. Reasons given for extradition were: “To have a more strict trial,” “Because the law is more severe in the U.S.,” “Because they are not as corrupt,” “So the punishment will be the electric chair” and “Because in Mexico he will escape and they will not do anything.”

    The survey confirms the rooted perception about government corruption in Mexico. More than two thirds – 69% – said they believe that Guzmán has the support of people within the Mexican government vs. 22 % who said he did not.

    In Mexico, it is widely believed that government and police officials where involved in letting El Chapo escape from a high-security prison in 2001. One wonders why the Mexican government lacks credibility when it promises to investigate who government helped El Chapo break out of prison and helped him avoid capture for almost a decade and a half.

    In a surprising event that gained much praise in Washington and other parts of the world, El Chapo Guzmán was detained in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, his home state on Mexico’s Pacific coast, on the last Saturday of February. For 13 years, El Chapo, the U.S.’s #1 supplier of illegal drugs and the head of a criminal empire that reaches half of the world, successfully eluded justice mainly because of his ability to corrupt and bribe law enforcement officials and politicians.

    Mexicans’ perception of their government as corrupt also emerged when Jana asked respondents how El Chapo avoided being captured for so long. They said because he was protected by people in the government, he had influence in government and knew all the movements of the authorities, the government is corrupt and because he paid politicians.

    For the survey, 320 respondents were polled across Mexico on February 26 and 27. Jana is a Boston-based mobile technology platform that connects emerging market consumers with global brands using mobile airtime.

    Jessica Tenny, from Brew Media Relations, said that usually Jana surveys poll a variety of emerging market countries around timely issues and current events, but for this specific survey it chose to focus solely on Mexico to gauge public sentiment around El Chapo’s trial. She explained by e-mail that the motivation was “purely to shed light on public opinion.”

    In 2013, El Chapo was dropped from Forbes World’s Billionaire list.

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