Af­ter two es­capes, U. S. wants fa­mous drug lord ex­tra­dited

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By E. Ed­uardo Castillo and Mark Steven­son

mex­ico city » Theworld’smost-wanted drug lord­was cap­tured for a third time in a dar­ing raid by Mex­i­can marines Fri­day, six months af­ter he tun­neled out of a max­i­mum- se­cu­rity prison in a made- for- Hol­ly­wood es­cape that deeply em­bar­rassed the govern­ment and strained ties with the United States.

Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent En­rique Peña Ni­eto an­nounced the cap­ture of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guz­man us­ing his Twit­ter ac­count: “mis­sion ac­com­plished: we have him.”

Fe­whad thought Guz­man­would be taken alive, and few now be­lieve Mex­ico will want to try to hold him a third time in­Mex­i­can pris­ons. He es­caped from max­i­mum- se­cu­rity fa­cil­i­ties in 2001 and on July 11, the se­cond break­out es­pe­cially hu­mil­i­at­ing for the Peña Ni­eto ad­min­is­tra­tion, which only held him for less than 18 months.

No sooner than Guz­man was ap­pre­hended, calls started for his im­me­di­ate ex­tra­di­tion to the U. S., in­clud­ing from a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Florida Sen. Mark Ru­bio.

“Given that ‘ El Chapo’ has al­ready es­caped fromMex­i­can prison twice, this third op­por­tu­nity to bring him to jus­tice can­not be squan­dered,” Ru­bio said.

Ac­cord­ing to the U. S. Jus­tice Depart­ment, the U. S. sub­mit­ted full- ex­tra­di­tion re­quests af­ter he was ar­rested in Fe­bru­ary 2014. But Guz­man’s lawyers al­ready filed ap­peals on those and were granted in­junc­tions that could de­lay the process sub­stan­tially.

At least one prom­i­nent drug car­tel leader, Juan Gar­cia Abrego, was sent to Colorado’s Ad­min­is­tra­tive Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Pen­i­ten­tiary — known as Su­per­max or ADX— in Florence af­ter be­ing suc­cess­fully extradicted.

Mex­ico said af­ter the first cap­ture of the car­tel boss that he would be tried in his home coun­try first, with of­fi­cials promis­ing they­would hang on to him. Af­ter his es­cape in July, the talk on Fri­day

about keep­ing and try­ing Guz­man al­most as a mat­ter of na­tional pride wasn’t so overt.

Pena Ni­eto gave a brief live mes­sage Fri­day af­ter­noon that fo­cused heav­ily on tout­ing the com­pe­tency of his ad­min­is­tra­tion, which has suf­fered a se­ries of em­bar­rass­ments and scan­dals in the first half of his pres­i­dency.

“The ar­rest of to­day is very im­por­tant for the govern­ment of Mex­ico. It shows that the pub­lic can have con­fi­dence in its in­sti­tu­tions,” Pena Ni­eto said. “Mex­i­cans can count on a govern­ment de­cided and de­ter­mined to build a bet­ter coun­try.”

Guz­man was ap­pre­hended af­ter a shootout be­tween gun­men and Mex­i­can marines in Los Mochis, a sea­side city in Guz­man’s home state of Si­naloa, said a fed­eral of­fi­cial who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to be quoted by name. He said Guz­man was taken alive and was not wounded.

Five peo­ple were killed and one Mex­i­can marine wounded in the clash at a house in an up­scale neigh­bor­hood of Los Mochis.

It was un­clear if Guz­man was there or nearby when the raid was un­der­way. A law en­force­ment of­fi­cial who was not au­tho­rized to be quoted by name said Guz­man was cap­tured at a mo­tel on the out­skirts of Los Mochis.

That of­fi­cial said Fri­day’s raid on the house was re­lated to the later cap­ture of Guz­man at the ho­tel. Guz­man may have been at the house and fled while his gun­men and body­guards pro­vided cov­er­ing fire from the house, the of­fi­cial said.

Marines checked the storm drain sys­tem, al­though it­was un­clear if Guz­man had once again fled through the drains.

In 2014, he es­caped cap­ture by flee­ing through a net­work of in­ter­con­nected tun­nels in the drainage sys­tem un­der Cu­li­a­can, the Si­naloa cap­i­tal.

Af­ter his first cap­ture in Gu­atemala in June 1993, Guz­man was sen­tenced to 20 years in prison. He re­port­edly made his 2001 es­cape from the max­i­mum se­cu­rity prison in a laun­dry cart, al­though some have dis­counted that ver­sion.

His se­cond es­cape last July was even­more au­da­cious. He slipped down a hole in his shower stall in plain view of guards into a mile- long tun­nel dug from a prop­erty out­side the prison. The tun­nel had ven­ti­la­tion, lights and a mo­tor­bike on rails, il­lus­trat­ing the ex­tent to which cor­rup­tion was in­volved in cov­er­ing up the elab­o­rate op­er­a­tion.

In the United States, the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion hailed the cap­ture as proof of the close re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two coun­tries. “The ar­rest is a sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment in our shared fight against transna­tional or­ga­nized crime, vi­o­lence and drug traf­fick­ing,” a DEA state­ment said.

The U. S. Jus­tice Depart­ment com­mended the work­ing re­la­tion­ship as well. “I salute the Mex­i­can lawen­force­ment and mil­i­tary per­son­nel who have worked tire­lessly in re­cent months to bring Guz­man to jus­tice,” At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch said.

The Mex­i­can law en­force­ment of­fi­cial said au­thor­i­ties lo­cated Guz­man sev­eral days ago, based on re­ports he was in Los Mochis. Pena Ni­eto gave no de­tails in his tele­vised speech, say­ing only that “care­ful and in­ten­sive in­tel­li­gence work was car­ried out for months” lead­ing up to the ar­rest.

The Mex­i­can Navy said in a state­ment that marines raided the home af­ter re­ceiv­ing a tip about armed men at the home. They were fired on from in­side the struc­ture, it said. Five sus­pects were killed, and six oth­er­swere ar­rested. The marine’s in­juries were not life- threat­en­ing.

Marines seized two ar­mored ve­hi­cles, eight ri­fles, one hand­gun and a rocket- pro­pelled grenade launcher at the home, the state­ment added.

Pho­tos of the arms seized showed that two of the ri­fles were .50- cal­iber sniper guns, ca­pa­ble of pen­e­trat­ing most bul­let­proof vests and cars. The grenade launcher was found loaded, with an ex­tra round nearby. An as­sault ri­fle had a 40- mm grenade launcher and at least one grenade.

In a photo re­leased by theMex­i­can web­site Plaza de Ar­mas, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guz­man is seen sit­ting in a ve­hi­cle af­ter he was re­cap­tured in north­west­Mex­ico on Fri­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.