Mexican Armed Forces Join in Search for Drug Kingpin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman

By Dialogo
July 15, 2015

Given the ineptitude and corruption of policemen now the armed forces have to start all over again to look for this criminal who had already been arrested. ALBERTO DE SANTA ANNA MACHADO, Venezuelan DRUG MANAGER, linked to DRUG TRAFFICKER WALID MAKLED who was caught in Colombia at the beginning of 2011, was extradited to Venezuela implicated in drug trafficking and money laundering cases, and was considered to be one of the 5 most wanted drug traffickers in the world.

Mexican police and Military units are engaged in a massive manhunt for escaped drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, closing down the nearest airport and sending hundreds of police and Armed Forces Troops to comb the area around the Altiplano prison, about 55 miles west of Mexico City.

Since the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel escaped Saturday night (July 11), the Mexican National Security Comission, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Navy, the office of the Attorney General (PGR) and the Center for Research and National Security, an intelligence agency that reports to the Secretary of Interior, have launched a comprehensive and coordinated search for El Chapo.

The Military and police are deploying Troops and law enforcement agents in strategic locations throughout the country and using all their technological and intelligence capabilities to find and recapture the drug kingpin.

"Several Mexican states have deployed special security operations in coordination with the federal forces to support the recapture of El Chapo," said Javier Oliva Posada, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Federal Police and Soldiers are intensely monitoring vehicles on hundreds of roads and are also looking for the organized crime leader at airports, seaports, and border crossings. The Mexican government is offering a $3.8 million (60 million pesos) reward for information leading to the capture of the fugitive.

International cooperation

The hunt for El Chapo extends beyond Mexico's borders; the Mexican government is working with the security forces of partner nations to track down the drug lord.

We have implemented a number of measures in collaboration with the international community. We are in close communication with the United States, Belize and Guatemala, mainly, who have expanded their surveillance to monitor the possible entry into their territories," said Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong. "Also, at the request of the Government of Mexico, the Interpol has issued a search alert activates protocols of detention in more than 100 countries."

The Guatemalan Armed Forces and Federal Police have launched an extensive operation to look for El Chapo, whose Sinaloa Cartel conducts drug trafficking operations in the Central American country. Before Mexican Marines captured him in Mazatlan in Feburary 2014, the drug kingpin was known to spend some of his time in Guatemala. The country's Military and police are being deployed to checkpoints along the Mexico-Guatemala border, and are also looking for the drug kingpin at airports, bus terminals, and seaports, said Carlos Mendoza Mora, a consultant with Strategic Project Consulting, a private firm in Mexico City.

"About 2,000 Armed Forces Troops and elements of the Federal Police are specifically assigned to the search," Mendoza Mora said.

The United States, which cooperates with Mexico and other countries in the Americas in the fight against international drug trafficking, has also offered to help Mexico capture El Chapo. “The U.S. government stands ready to work with our Mexican partners to provide any assistance that may help support his swift recapture,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

"The United States, Central American countries and international police agencies are all looking for (El Chapo)," Oliva Posada said.

Mexico's campaign against organized crime

The Mexican government has achieved a number of notable successes against the Sinaloa Cartel and other Mexican transnational criminal organizations in recent years. Those include the 2012 killing by Military forces of the head of the violent Los Zetas Cartel, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, also known as “The Executioner, "Lazca," and "Z-3;" the 2013 arrest of The Executioner's successor as leader of Los Zetas, Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, who is also known as “Z-40;” and the 2013 killing by Mexican Marines of Gonzalo Inzunza Inzunza, also known as “El Macho Prieto,” a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel.

But the capture of El Chapo in early 2014 was the crown jewel of the government’s campaign to capture or kill the leaders of violent Mexican organized crime groups.

The Sinaloa Cartel is the largest of these transnational criminal organizations; it has extensive drug trafficking networks not only in Mexico and the U.S. but around the world, including in Central America. Some of those connections come through El Chapo. Law enforcement officials in Guatemala captured him in 1993, and he was subsequently extradited to Mexico and sentenced to 20 years in prison on drug trafficking charges. However, in 2001 El Chapo escaped from prison allegedly hidden in a laundry cart. He remained on the run until February 2014, when Mexican Marines and police captured him in the beachfront city of Mazatlan.

Julieta Pelcastre contributed to this article.