Saturday, March 3, 2012

Is Mexico closing in on El Chapo Guzmán?

Capture or death of "The Ghost," his chief security aid, first reported then denied

Mexican president Felipe Calderón has just under nine months left in Los Pinos. There's little doubt that the item at the top of his daily punch list is "take out El Chapo." It would cap his increasingly controversial National Security Strategy. It would also greatly please his neighbors to the north, who have invested over $1 billion in the drug war since 2008.

There's a general presumption that Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, boss of the Sinaloa Cartel (often called Cartel del Pacifico in Mexico), is based in or around the state after which his far flung empire is named. It's more likely that El Chapo doesn't stay very long in any one place. Calderón told the New York Times last October that the billionaire drug kingpin "must be in the U.S."

Mexican military forces were engaged in a reconnaissance and information gathering mission Thursday (Mar. 1) in a community near Culiacán, the state capital, and report that gunmen attacked them. They repelled the assault, killing two men in the process. An initial report said that Jonathan Salas Avilés, the alleged chief of security for El Chapo, had been wounded in the battle and later died at a hospital. Salas Avilés is known as El Fantasma, the ghost. That's because he's not seen much. But a subsequent government press release denied his death. (CNN-Español is still carrying a report posted yesterday, Mar. 2, which claims the security chief was indeed killed. It's quite possible that the government doesn't yet know whether one of Thursday's victims was Salas Avilés.)

Sinaloa is a very violent place. As the ejército mexicano continues with search and destroy missions focused on taking out El Chapo, it's likely to become more so.

Aug. 14 - The well-connected and enormously rich Guzmán can go wherever he wants, whenever he wants. El Chapo travels regularly to remote regions of Guatemala and Honduras, some speculate.

Carlos Slim, El Chapo Guzmán both make 2012 Forbes richest list again:
U.S. confirms El Chapo is world's most wanted narco:
Key aid to El Chapo arrested:
El Chapo dominates U.S. narcotics trade:
"I'll get El Chapo":
El Chapo's wife delivers twin daughters in L.A.:
Lingering questions surround execution of Canadian in Sinaloa:
New terror strikes Sinaloa:
Machine gun attack kills eight during Culiacán volleyball game:
Mayor of Mazatlán narrowly escapes assassination:
Sinaloa governor moves family out of Mexico:

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