Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin ‘Shorty’ Guzman captured in Mexico

Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman (C) is escorted by soldiers during a presentation at the Navy's airstrip in Mexico City. Credit: Reuters
Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman (C) is escorted by soldiers during a presentation at the Navy’s airstrip in Mexico City.
Credit: Reuters

Mexico’s most wanted man, drugs kingpin Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, was captured early on Saturday with help from U.S. agencies in a major victory for the government in a long, brutal drugs war.

Guzman, known as “El Chapo” (Shorty) in Spanish, has long run Mexico’s infamous Sinaloa Cartel and over the past decade emerged as one of the world’s most powerful organized crime bosses.

He was caught in his native northwestern state of Sinaloa in an early morning operation without a shot being fired, Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said, adding that Guzman’s identity had been 100 percent confirmed.

It is a political triumph for President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office in late 2012. Pena Nieto confirmed the arrest via Twitter earlier on Saturday and congratulated his security forces. The U.S. government also applauded the arrest.

Guzman’s cartel has smuggled billions of dollars worth of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines into the United States, and fought vicious turf wars with other Mexican gangs.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting, especially in western and northern regions that have long been key smuggling routes.

Many of the victims were tortured and beheaded and their bodies dumped in a public place or in mass graves. The violence has ravaged border cities and even beach resorts like Acapulco.

Guzman, 56, was captured in the northwestern seaside resort of Mazatlan and flown to Mexico City.

Wearing a cream shirt and dark jeans and with a black moustache, his head pushed down by a soldier in a face mask, he was frog-marched in front of reporters on live TV, bound for prison.

It was the first public glimpse of the elusive kingpin since he escaped from prison in 2001.

He looked briefly toward TV cameras waiting on the tarmac outside the Marines’ hangar at Mexico City’s airport, before his head was shoved back down.

Murillo Karam said that security forces had nearly caught Guzman days earlier, but he gave them the slip.

“The doors of the house … were reinforced with steel and so in the minutes it took us to open them, it allowed for an escape through tunnels,” Murillo Karam said.

But they tracked him down again and waited for the right moment to strike early on Saturday. The attorney general said “some U.S. agencies” had helped in capturing Guzman but he gave no more details.

He did not say whether Guzman would face trial in Mexico or be extradited to the United States.

The 5-foot 6-inch (1.7-metre) Guzman’s exploits have made him a legend in many impoverished communities of northern Mexico, where he has been immortalized in dozens of ballads and low budget movies.

The United States had placed a $5 million bounty on Guzman’s head and authorities in Chicago last year dubbed him the city’s first Public Enemy No.1 since gangster Al Capone.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder described the arrest as “a landmark achievement, and a victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States.”

“The criminal activity Guzman allegedly directed contributed to the death and destruction of millions of lives across the globe through drug addiction, violence, and corruption,” Holder said in a statement.

Nearly 80,000 people have died in drug-related killings in Mexico since former President Felipe Calderon sent in the army in early 2007 to quell the powerful drug bosses, a policy that Pena Nieto has criticized but found tough to break with.

There has been some concern in the United States that Pena Nieto’s government might not be as aggressive in pursuing cartel leaders, but Guzman’s capture will ease those fears.

“Chapo is the jewel in the crown, the most-wanted drug boss in recent years and, in that sense, this is a great success,” said Jorge Chabat, an expert on drug trafficking at the CIDE research center.

FROM HUMBLE ROOTS TO BILLIONAIRE

From humble beginnings in a ramshackle village, Guzman rose up in the 1980s under the tutelage of Sinaloan kingpin Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, alias “The Boss of Bosses,” who pioneered cocaine smuggling routes into the United States.

He came to prominence in 1993, when assassins who shot dead Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas claimed they had been gunning for Guzman but got the wrong target.

Guzman is the latest in a series of high profile capos to be caught or killed.

Last July, Pena Nieto’s government caught the leader of the Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino, aka Z-40.

The Zetas have been blamed for many of the worst atrocities carried out by Mexican drug gangs, acts that have sullied the country’s name and put fear into tourists and investors alike.

Founded by army deserters in the late 1990s, the Zetas initially acted as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel. But cracks began to appear and the rupture was sealed in early 2010, setting off the most violent phase in Mexico’s drug war.

Calderon, a conservative, had staked his reputation on bringing Mexico’s powerful drug gangs to heel, sending in the armed forces.

While his forces captured or killed many of the top capos, cartels splintered amid leadership challenges and turf wars exploded across Mexico.

He congratulated Pena Nieto and his government in a message on Twitter on Saturday, describing the arrest as a “great blow.”

Analysts were divided on whether Guzman’s lieutenant Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada would take the helm of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Alejandro Hope, security director at the Mexican Competitiveness Institute think tank, said Guzman’s downfall represented the end of a 30-year era of high-profile drug lords running riot across Mexico.

“There will be very few figures of this caliber,” he said.

Pena Nieto has sought to play down the drug fight, instead seeking to focus public attention on a series of economic reforms spanning energy to telecoms, which he has pushed through Congress aiming to boost long-lagging economic growth.

He has also tried an unorthodox strategy, co-opting vigilantes in western Mexico in the fight against the feared Knights Templar Cartel, which security experts say is potentially playing with fire.

Guzman has been caught before, and famously gave his jailers the slip.

He escaped a Mexican prison, reportedly in a laundry cart, in 2001 to become the country’s most high-profile trafficker. He is believed to command groups of hitmen from the U.S. border into Central America.

He was indicted in the United States on dozens of charges of racketeering and conspiracy to import cocaine, heroin, marijuana and crystal meth.

Guzman was listed for a time in Forbes’ annual list of billionaires around the world but he was dropped last year, because it was impossible to verify his wealth.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Local

New York joins accord to strengthen popular vote…

New York State joined a nationwide effort that would gives the state's 29 electoral votes for president to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

NBA

Nets miss chance to clinch No. 5 seed…

Nets head coach Jason Kidd expressed little concern after a 109-98 loss to the Knicks, but others seemed to disagree.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.