On February 22, Mexican marines caught infamous drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman without a single shot being fired. His arrest ends the cat-and-mouse game that Guzman has been playing with Mexican police for over a decade.
“El Chapo” Guzman is seen as the most successful and most dangerous drug trafficker in the world. Estimated to be worth one billion dollars, Guzman has been listed as one of the “World’s Most Powerful People” in Forbes magazine since 2009. Guzman has so much power and wealth that he was, for many years, able to avoid punishment for his actions. So much power, in fact, that he was able to bribe dozens of federal prison guards to carry him out of prison in a laundry basket when he was imprisoned in 2001. Since his prison break in 2001, Guzman has been operating his cartel on the run. He was found in a condo in Mazatlan, a glamorous city that Guzman had just moved to after hiding from police in the mountains.
Only a week before his eventual capture, Guzman narrowly escaped police by way of a hidden tunnel under a bathtub in a safe house. Tunnels connecting to city sewer systems and doors reinforced with steel were practices used by the cartel that seem like they could be taken from a movie.
Guzman is the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, which includes many members of his own family. According to US police, he and the cartel were responsible for a quarter of the drugs that came into the US from Mexico. One law enforcement official said that “By far, the Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for bringing more cocaine, heroin and meth into this country than any other organization.”
The US gets most of its supply of various drugs from south of the border, but a disturbing discovery has shown that 70 percent of the guns recovered from criminal activity in Mexico can be traced back to firearm dealers in the US. This means that firearm dealers in America are unknowingly, or uncaringly, supplying the weapons that have left so many dead in Mexico.
Since 2006, the drug war in Mexico has killed over 70,000 people. According to police, Guzman was responsible for thousands of these deaths, directly and indirectly. Many of these deaths result from violent territory disputes between different drug cartels.
Guzman being caught is an enormous triumph for US and Mexican officials alike, who hope to see a decrease in international drug and firearm trafficking and the violence that comes with it. Guzman will remain in Mexico for the foreseeable future, where he will stand trial under charges of drug trafficking. Rumors of a trial occurring afterword in New York have yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, officials wait and watch to see if Guzman’s arrest will actually reduce violence and the dispersal of drugs or if he will just be replaced by another up-and-coming drug lord.