Son of “El Azul” escaped prison with four other suspects

March 16, 2017. Mexican authorities report the son of Sinaloa Cartel leader "El Azul" escaped with four other cartel members from a Culiacán prison. Source: Daily Mail

March 16, 2017. Mexican authorities report the son of Sinaloa Cartel leader “El Azul” escaped with four other cartel members from a Culiacán prison. Source: Daily Mail

03/06/17 (written by Matteo Bucalossi) –  The son of “El Azul”, a top leader of the Sinaloa Cartel escaped from prison with four other drug suspects on March 16, 2017 in Culiacán, Sinaloa. The fugitive has been identified as Juan José “El Negro” Esparragoza Monzón, son of Juan José “El Azul” Esparragoza Moreno. “El Azul” was a leader of the Sinaloa Cartel along with Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. “El Chapo” was extradited to the United States this year and is now facing a 17-count indictment in a federal court in New York. In addition,“El Mayo’s” whereabouts are still unknown and the FBI has posted a $5 million reward for information on him. According to Daily Mail, rumors alleged that “El Azul” died in 2014 from a heart attack. However, this has not been confirmed by authorities.

As reported by ABC News, Sinaloa assistant secretary of public safety, Cristóbal Castañeda Camarillo, declared that the inmates escaped the state prison during visiting hours. After a 911 call reporting that someone had been wounded inside the prison, the alarm sounded at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 16. The federal search operation that began two hours later did not locate the fugitives. In addition, the Culiacán prison head of security, José Mario Murillo Rodríguez, has been missing since the escape, according to the secretary of public safety Genaro Robles Casilla. Castañeda addressed the possibility that they could have escaped with the aid of prison personnel and may have been hidden in vehicles.

The fugitives are believed to be connected to the Sinaloa Cartel and play significant roles within the organization. “El Negro” is suspected of running a drug distribution network and managing cartel finances. According to Milenio, he has been recently accused of instigating violence in Mexicali and Tijuana, . As reported by Justice in Mexico, he was arrested on January 19 while carrying three firearms, a sizeable amount of cocaine, and communication equipment.

Francisco Javier Zazueta Rosales, alias “Pancho Chimal”, is suspected to be the chief of sicarios (or hitmen) for “El Chapo”. He allegedly ordered and participated in the ambush that killed five Mexican soldiers in Culiacán on September 30. Jesús “El 20” Peña González is believed to be the security chief for “El Mayo”. Alfredo “El Limón” Limón Sánchez is a confidant of “El 20”. Rafael Guadalupe Félix Núñez, alias “El Changuito Ántrax”, is a financial operator in Los Ántrax, an armed group aligned with the cartel.

Authorities petitioned the courts to transfer the suspects to separate maximum-security federal prisons. “El Negro” is considered one of Mexico’s 122 priority criminal suspects and the United States has requested his extradition. However, the prisoners have won court injunctions against these requests. As reported by Business Insider, the order for “El Negro” was granted on January 23rd by a judge in the fourth district of Sinaloa, while federal authorities had issued orders of interim protection to extradite him. “Pancho Chimal” was granted the same order by the same judge on February 21st.

The effects can already be seen in the state of Sinaloa. An internal fight between cartel members is taking place on the streets of the state. According to Business Insider, in early February, two sons of “El Chapo” and “El Mayo” were reportedly ambushed by another high-ranking member, Dámaso López Serrano, son of the founder of Los Ántrax, Dámaso López Núñez.

 

Sources:

Heinle, Kimberly. “Son of Sinaloa Cartel leader arrested in Culiacán.” Justice in Mexico. January 28, 2017.

“Son of Mexican drug lord escapes from prison.”ABC News. March 17, 2017.

“Son of notorious Mexican drug lord who led the Sinaloa cartel alongside El Chapo escapes from prison with four other associates.” Daily Mail. March 17, 2017.

Monjardín, Alejandro. “Desaparece el jefe de custodios del penal de Culiacán, luego de la fuga de 5 reos.” Rio Doce. March 17, 2017.

Mosso, Rubén, Ignacio Alzaga, and Cynthia Valdez. “Hijo de ‘El Azul’ se fuga de penal en Culiacán.” Milenio. March 17, 2017.

Woody, Christopher. “The son of ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s shadowy business partner just busted out of prison.” Business Insider. March 17, 2017.

Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera Recaptured by Mexican Marines

1/8/16 (written by rkuckertz and lcalderon) – According to a late-morning announcement from President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Twitter feed, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, the Sinaloa cartel druglord recently made infamous for his subterranean escape in July from the Altiplano federal prison, has been captured. President Peña Nieto’s tweet read: “Mission accomplished: we have him.” Soon after the President’s online announcement, law enforcement sources confirmed this news to various media outlets, such as leading Mexican newspaper El Universal. The Mexican Navy subsequently made a statement regarding the recapture of Guzmán, saying that marines were acting on an anonymous tip from a concerned citizen regarding armed men in a nearby home in Los Mochis, a coastal town in Guzmán’s home state of Sinaloa.
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According to the Navy’s statement, the mission began after 5:00am Friday morning when authorities entered the Los Mochis home. Upon entering, they were fired at from inside the building and as a result, five suspects were killed and six were arrested. Orso Ivan Gastelum Cruz, a prominent regional drug trafficker, managed to escape. Marines confiscated two armored vehicles, eight long guns, one handgun and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. In a second tweet, President Peña Nieto called Guzmán’s recapture an “important achievement in favor of the Rule of Law of Mexico.”

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It is still uncertain if Guzmán Leora will be extradited to the United States following this recapture. After Guzmán Leora was captured for the second time in 2014, President Enrique Peña Nieto declined a U.S. request for the extradition of the Sinaloa cartel druglord. In an interview with Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam in January 2015, Murillo Karam told The Associated Press, “I could accept extradition but at the time that I choose. El Chapo must stay here to complete his sentence and then I will extradite him,” he continues, “So about 300 or 400 years later — it will be a while.”

However, the United States proceeded with another request for extradition in late June of 2015, which the Mexican Attorney General granted three weeks after Guzmán Leora’s July escape. Shortly after, Guzmán Loera’s lawyer filed a request for injunction against the Attorney General’s order, resulting in the suspension of the order. As a result of the suspension, Guzmán Loera may not be directly handed over to U.S. authorities; instead, he must first receive a trial in Mexico to determine whether or not he will be extradited to the United States to face further charges. Guzmán Loera faces charges in seven U.S. jurisdictions including Brooklyn, Texas, Illinois, Chicago, New Mexico, Texas, Miami, and San Diego.

In order to place Guzmán Loera’s recent recapture into a broader context, we have provided below a general timeline of his activities prior to his leadership of the Sinaloa cartel through his most recent escape from the Altiplano federal prison.

Guzmán’s involvement in the drug trafficking world began in the 1980’s when he worked for the major drug kingpin in Mexico at that time: Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo, founder of the Guadalajara cartel. Guzmán Loera was in charge of the logistics and operations of the cartel at a time where Mexican drug traffickers were middlemen for Colombian drug cartels to get to the U.S. market. In 1985, Félix Gallardo sent his men, including Guzmán, to kidnap, torture, and kill DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena for his undercover work as an informant in the cartel for the U.S. government.

Félix Gallardo was then arrested in 1989 and the territories that once belonged to the Guadalajara cartel had to be divided, leaving Guzmán Loera as one of the founders of the Sinaloa Cartel, along with Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada and “El Guero” Palma. At this time, two other major cartels were formed: the Tijuana Cartel under the Arellano Félix brothers and the Juárez Cartel under Amado Carrillo Fuentes.

Under his leadership, the Sinaloa cartel developed creative smuggling techniques and strategies, including building air-conditioned tunnels under the Mexico-U.S. border, hiding drugs in chili pepper cans and fire extinguishers, and catapulting drugs over the border. He diversified the cartel’s production to include various kinds of illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

On June 9, 1993, Guzmán Loera was arrested for the first time by the Guatemalan Army at a hotel close to the border with Mexico. He was then extradited to Mexico to be kept at the Federal Social Readaptation Center #1, a “maximum-security” prison often called “Altiplano.” In 1995 he was transferred to the maximum-security prison in Puente Grande, Jalisco. Even while in prison, “El Chapo” remained as one of the most powerful drug kingpins in Mexico, and sources declare he was referred to as “El Jefe” (The Boss) or “Don Joaquin” (Mr. Joaquin) and enjoyed many privileges such as having a personal cellphone.

In 2001 he escaped using a laundry cart with the help of Javier Camberos, a prison guard. Official reports suggest that there were at least 70 people involved in this escape.

On September 2001, the U.S. started asking for Guzmán’s capture and extradition to face charges of money laundering and conspiracy in a court in California. The U.S. government started to see Guzmán Loera as a priority target in its war on drugs. In 2004 it announced a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest. In 2012 the U.S. Department of the Treasury called for the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act to freeze the U.S. assets of members of his family.

On February 22nd 2014, “El Chapo” was finally apprehended again by the Mexican Navy in Mazatlán, Sinaloa with the aid of the DEA and Marshall Services. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto declined the American request to extradite Guzmán Loera, assuring the U.S. government he wouldn’t escape again.

Sources:

Ahmed, Azam. “El Chapo, Escaped Drug Lord, Has Been Recaptured, Mexican President Says.” The New York Times. 8 January 2016.

Agren, David and Doug Stanglin. “Fugitive Mexican drug kingpin ‘El Chapo’ captured.” USA Today. 8 January 2015.

Schuppe, Jon and Mark Potter. NBC News. “El Chapo: Notorious Mexican Drug Kingpin Captured by Authorities.” 8 January 2016.

“México recaptura al narcotraficante Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.” El Universal. 8 January 2016.

“Ni se fuga ni lo extradito, dijo Murillo Karam; “El Chapo” se amparó ese día; luego se fugó.” Sin Embargo. 14 July 2015.

Flores Martínez, Raúl. “Defensa de ‘El Chapo’ pide amparo contra extradición.” Excelsior. 31 July 2015.

Tuckman, Jo. “El Chapo’s escape was spurred by concern over extradition, lawyer says.” The Guardian. 25 August 2015.

“Looking back at Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman’s escape from prison.” Justice in Mexico. 28 August 2015.

“Un juez mexicano abre vía a la extradición de El Chapo si lo atrapan.” El País. 31 July 2015.

Aldrich, Ian. “Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán Loera Biography.” The biography. N/A

Munro, André. “Joaquín Guzmán Loera Mexican Criminal.” Britannica. 8 January 2016.

Looking back at Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman’s escape from prison

Photo of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán (Image: Telesur)

Photo of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán
(Image: Telesur)

08/28/2015 (written by rkuckertz) – Experts have begun to speculate that the escape of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera on July 11, 2015 was motivated by concerns about his possible extradition to the United States. Sixteen days before his escape from the Altiplano federal prison in the State of Mexico, the United States government submitted a formal extradition order for Guzmán, the leader of the Sinaloa cartel. According to recent reports, Guzmán faced charges relating to murder and drug trafficking in at least seven U.S. federal courts. Prior to the United States’ formal request for extradition, Mexico’s former attorney general suggested earlier this year that Guzmán would never serve time in the United States, emphasizing Mexico’s sovereign right to penalize its own criminals. However, the United States proceeded with a formal request in late-June, which was still under review during the time of Guzmán’s escape.

Despite indications that Mexico intended to keep the notorious drug lord in Mexico, Juan Pablo Badillo Soto, Guzmán’s lawyer, claims that the threat of extradition to the United States may have been a motivating factor in Guzmán’s escape. According to Badillo Soto, the drug kingpin was skeptical about the Mexican government’s claim that he would remain in Mexico. Guzmán’s suspicions were validated three weeks after his July 11th escape when the Mexican attorney general announced that a judge had approved the pending extradition order to the United States.

Since the approval of the extradition order, Badillo Soto filed a request for injunction against the order which contended that Guzmán would not receive a fair trial in U.S. courts. Consequently, the order was suspended and has yet to be lifted. Badillo Soto believes that as a result of the suspension, Guzmán will not be extradited if he is recaptured.

Meanwhile, U.S. authorities announced in early August that they are offering a reward of $5 million for information that leads to Guzmán’s capture. The DEA’s San Diego office has set up a tip line and is working with its Mexican counterparts to locate Guzmán. Chuck Rosenberg, the acting leader of the DEA, acknowledges that while Guzmán could be anywhere, it is also likely that he is hiding out somewhere in Mexico. Rosenberg also posits that Guzmán may have returned to his native state of Sinaloa, where his family resides and where he has access to a large network of contacts.

Aside from analysts’ educated guesses, Guzmán’s location remains unknown. However, experts such as Rosenberg and Mexican journalist Anabel Hernandez contend that the drug lord may still possess powerful connections in Mexico. Hernandez, who has covered drug trafficking for decades, asserts that Guzmán continued to run cartel operations from prison. Furthermore, Hernandez speculates that Guzmán also had connections on the outside that aided in his escape on July 11; someone on the outside helped build the 1-kilometer, lighted tunnel that enabled him to flee—something the Peña Nieto administration had pledged to prevent.

Indeed, in a TV interview with Peña Nieto in March 2014, the president himself stressed that a second escape would be “unforgivable” and that the Mexican government would do everything in its power to prevent it. Thus, some analysts such as former head of the Mexican intelligence agency, Guillermo Valdés, now see the Sinaloa cartel kingpin’s escape as a sign of the Peña Nieto’s government ineptitude, or even complicity with Guzmán. Indeed, analysts like Valdés and Hector Aguilar Camín suggest that Guzmán’s escape was a major catastrophe for the Mexican president. In a report published by Milenio, Aguilar writes that “El Chapo has made the Mexican government look ridiculous.”

At the same time, others have criticized Peña Nieto for his supposed indifference to the situation, given his apparent unwillingness to address the escape publicly. As InSight Crime analyst Jeremy McDermott points out, the Peña Nieto administration’s haphazard response to El Chapo’s escape was not the first of its kind. McDermott cites the government’s dispassionate reaction to the forced disappearance of the 43 students in Iguala, Guerrero last year as well as recent accusations of human rights abuses against the Mexican military. Thus, according to analysts such as McDermott and Aguilar, Guzmán’s escape has indeed caused major harm to the administration’s legitimacy.

Sources:

“El Chapo’s escape was spurred by concern over extradition, lawyer says.” The Guardian. August 25, 2015.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/25/el-chapo-escape-us-extradition

“‘El Chapo’ podría estar escondido en Sinaloa.” Noticieros Televisa. August 5, 2015.
http://noticieros.televisa.com/mexico/1508/dea-cree-chapo-se-esconda-sinaloa1/

“EEUU ofrece $5 millones por El Chapo Guzmán, quien cree está en Sinaloa.” Univisión. August 5, 2015.
http://noticias.univision.com/article/2422874/2015-08-05/estados-unidos/noticias/eeuu-ofrece-5-millones-por-el-chapo-guzman-quien-cree-esta-en-sinaloa

Arroyo, Luis. “‘Narcoland’ Author on El Chapo’s Escape and Government Corruption in Mexico.” TeleSUR. July 29, 2015.
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Anabel-Hernandez-Talks-About-the-Escape-of-El-Chapo-Guzman-20150729-0035.html

“EU pidió la extradición de ‘El Chapo’ 16 días antes de la fuga.” El Financiero. July 17, 2015.
http://www.elfinanciero.com.mx/nacional/eu-pidio-la-extradicion-de-el-chapo-16-dias-antes-de-la-fuga.html.

“La extradición que no fue.” El País. July 14, 2015.
http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2015/07/13/actualidad/1436824108_700324.html.

Miller, Michael E. “How El Chapo’s Tunnel Could Bury the Rival who Jailed Him, Mexico’s President.” Washington Post. July 14, 2015.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/07/14/how-el-chapos-tunnel-could-bury-the-rival-who-jailed-him-mexicos-president

Aguilar Camín, Hector. “Cuentas de ‘El Chapo’.” 13 July, 2015.
http://www.milenio.com/firmas/hector_aguilar_camin_dia-con-dia/Cuentas-Chapo_18_553924638.html

“El Chapo’s Escape: No Light at the End of the Tunnel.” CNN. July 13, 2015.
http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/13/opinions/winslow-el-chapo-escape/.

“Mexican President in 2014: Second Escape by El Chapo Would Be ‘unforgivable’.” Univisión. July 13, 2015.
http://noticias.univision.com/article/2399860/2015-07-13/mexico/noticias/univision-news-transcript-interview-with-mexican-president-enrique-pena-nieto.

Tuckman, Jo. “El Chapo’s Escape Humiliates Mexican president: ‘The state looks putrefied.’ The Guardian. 13 July, 2015.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/13/el-chapo-escape-mexico-president-enrique-pena-nieto