Everybody wants a piece of El Chapo
*Updated Feb. 24 - El Chapo already fighting possible U.S. extradition request*
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R. Tex) said today that "the best option for Mexico" would be to immediately extradite to the United States former Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín Guzmán, who was arrested yesterday by Mexican marines in the Pacific coast city of Mazatlán. Mexico nabs El Chapo.
Guzmán escaped from a prison in Jalisco state in January 2001, and managed to evade recapture for 13 years and one month. The decommission of the world's most wanted drug trafficker, with a reputed net worth of a billion dollars or more, was by far the biggest success to date in the 15 month old PRI administration of president Enrique Peña Nieto.
Appearing on ABC News this morning, McCaul said, "In Mexico there is corruption. Guzmán should be transferred here under heavy security, so that we don't have a repeat of what happened in 2001."
"It all depends upon how much pressure the (Obama) administration exerts on Mexico," said McCaul, who called the take down of Guzmán "an enormous achievement, equivalent to the capture of Al Capone in Chicago or Pablo Escobar in Colombia." Enrique finally gets the Biggest Enchilada.
McCaul had high praise for Peña Nieto. "He's demonstrated that he'll be tough with the cartels, by capturing the biggest fish of all. El Chapo was the most notorious drug trafficker in the world, the godfather of them all."
Both before and after he took office on Dec. 1, 2012, many predicted the 47 year old president would abandon the trademark strategy of his predecessor, Felipe Calderón, which focused on taking down key narco bosses using the armed forces, especially Mexico's highly trained marines. Peña Nieto proved them wrong, making only minor cosmetic changes to Calderón's so-called National Security Strategy. By late last year major media sources began to acknowledge the strategies were the same, as did the Associated Press in this August 2013 article by U.S. journalist Katherine Corcoran.
Mexican army captures leader of Gulf Cartel
Mexican marines arrest chief executioner for El Chapo Guzmán in Sinaloa state
El Chapo's father-in-law, Inés Coronel Barrera, arrested by Mexican Federal Police
Congressman McCaul's comments have been widely quoted in the Mexican press today, where they may not necessarily receive approval. Mexico has many pending charges against El Chapo, and the reality is it will likely be months if not years before this country will agree to hand him over to the U.S. - with the mandatory provision that the death penalty is off the table (Mexico has none, for any crime, and will not extradite to a country where it could be imposed). Even after extradition has been ordered by authorities here, Guzmán, like every accused, enjoys the right to challenge it in a domestic court.
Representative McCaul is not the only one who wants Guzmán returned quickly, it should be noted.
In March 2013 Chicago Crime Commission director J.R. Davis told a press conference, "Guzmán and his cartel have killed at least 10,000 people. And before they killed them, many were brutally tortured. The fingerprints of Guzmán are all over the weapon that is killing thousands of Chicago kids, too, and that weapon is drugs. What Capone was to beer and whiskey, Guzmán is to narcotics. Guzmán poses a far greater threat to this city than Al Capone ever did." El Chapo: "Public Enemy # 1". Last year Drug Enforcement Administration agents filed documents in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois outlining a massive Sinaloa Cartel narcotics export operation, with Chicago as its hub. The Chicago Connection: Sinaloa Cartel moves cocaine from Windy City to Australia.
Federal prosecutors in Texas are also waiting for their turn at the fallen Sinaloa boss. In April 2012 he was named in a 14 count indictment in El Paso (copy below), which included charges of kidnapping, money laundering and murder. When Mexico completes legal proceedings against Guzmán, those will likely be among the first charges he faces north of the border.
In other Guzmán arrest news, two men who claim to be his sons posted a serious of ominous warnings today in their joint Twitter account. Alfredo Guzmán described his father as a "good and generous man," while Ivan Guzmán said that family members were "awaiting further orders." Other messages included, "This is not the end. My father's cartel is alive and always will be. Every one of those dogs who dared lay a hand on my father will answer to me personally."
El Chapo has been married multiple times, and is believed to have as many as a dozen children. The Twitter messages may or may not be from his offspring, but the government here will not dismiss them or similar threats lightly. Security experts in Mexico and the U.S. agree that the power vacuum left by Guzmán's sudden and unanticipated departure will be filled, possibly after a violent struggle. In the meantime, Mexico's estimated 60-80 other cartels will take full advantage of El Chapo's absence.
Feb. 24 - In news which will not surprise anyone in this country, attorneys for El Chapo have already filed a special legal proceeding in an effort to avoid his extradition to the U.S. - the last place Guzmán wants to go. It's called amparo, and it's the functional equivalent of the Anglo-American writ of habeas corpus. Another notorious Mexican drug trafficker won his freedom last August using the venerated amparo, although the decision in that case was later reversed by Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court. But the man remains free, because no one knows where he went. The death house on Lope de Vega.
Late today a federal judge issued a provisional amparo order, directing that Guzmán not be removed from the country for any reason until further proceedings are conducted in his case. The order means very little. There is no chance that Guzmán will be released on bail, and sooner or later he will be extradited to the U.S. to answer multiple indictments in American courts. The delay could easily be a year, perhaps two or three. The PRI administration wants to enjoy its victory for awhile, and Mexico has many legitimate charges against El Chapo which will take time to prosecute. When Guzmán does board a plane escorted by U.S. Marshals, he likely will never again set foot on Mexican soil.
Mar. 5 - The same federal judge who granted Guzmán a provisional amparo order on Feb. 24 today vacated his own ruling. Since the U.S. has not officially requested El Chapo's extradition, there was no basis to enter an order enjoining it, the judge ruled. When an extradition application is delivered to Mexican authorities - an inevitability - the whole issue will be re-litigated.
Mar. 9 - Mexico: Guzmán's extradition to U.S. is inevitable
Feb. 25 - The Guzmán girls, home grown in Sinaloa
El Chapo Guzman Indictment 4-11-12
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