Commentary on The Hunt for El Chapo from The New Yorker

I finally read the article in the New Yorker.  It seems less reporting than just a rambling rehash of he mainstream English-language media on Chapo Guzman.  Bill Conroy sent me a comment that I’m posting part of (with permission):

“Guzmán’s decision to jettison his huge security force had allowed him to move around quickly and inconspicuously, but he was left essentially defenseless.
Or, as Hector Berellez (a former DEA agent quoted in a Narco News story ) said, was it pulled back by the government itself? Why would Guzman get rid of his security when he knew the US feds and Mexican military were hot on his tail? It doesn’t pass the smell test. And this is just a throw-off line in the story, with no explanation to speak of, as though the writer doesn’t even understand the significance of what he’s saying. All through the story, it’s clear the feds knew how to find Guzman at any given time, but chose not to move on him until now, and coincidentally Guzman cooperated by deciding to shed his security detail. Again it don’t make sense.
And apparently, someone else didn’t think so either, given the report shortly after Guzman’s arrest of his head of security being tortured and murdered. That sounds like payback for someone who betrayed Guzman. That does pass the smell test in that world.”
Here’s one snippet I noticed from the bio of Guzman in the New Yorker:
and in the seventies, in spite of his illiteracy, he became an apprentice to two drug chieftains: Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who owned a fleet of airplanes and was known as the Lord of the Skies; and Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, a police officer turned drug baron, who ran the Guadalajara cartel and was known as El Padrino—the Godfather.
Amado Carrillo was born in 1956, so he was a teenager for most of the 1970s. He did not become important in the Mexican drug trade until 1986 and after the death of Ojinaga kingpin Pablo Acosta–interestingly–also an operation of Mexican federal police aided by FBI and DEA and including a cross-border helicopter strike on his hideout in the Big Bend village near Santa Elena canyon.  Also, none of the Mexican traffickers used “fleets of planes” until the late 1980s when Amado Carrillo started flying Colombian cocaine through Mexico to the US. This is Mexican Drug History 101. 
I also noticed the repeat of this story that has all the qualities of an urban legend in Mexico. I heard it on NPR after the capture of Guzman… A version is told in every city in Mexico with any kind of high-end restaurant. I heard it from a friend in Juarez in 2008. The story is never told by a person who was actually IN the restaurant when it happens. It is always a friend or relative who was there… This is Urban Legend 101, apparently believed by DEA agents and reporters.
Guzmán had other weaknesses. “He loves the gourmet food,” a D.E.A. official told me. From time to time, he would be spotted at an elegant restaurant in Sinaloa or in a neighboring state. The choreography was always the same. Diners would be startled by a team of gunmen, who would politely but firmly demand their telephones, promising that they would be returned at the end of the evening. Chapo and his entourage would come in and feast on shrimp and steak, then thank the other diners for their forbearance, return the telephones, pick up the tab for everyone, and head off into the night. 

Even worse, this piece from the SLATE blog…

The blog post quotes from the New Yorker piece as to how the DEA agents assure the reporter that Chapo’s body guards were tortured by the Mexican Marines and that’s why they gave up Chapo. First, it is no surprise that Mexican feds and military torture nearly every one they arrest. A petty criminal picked up for robbing a store is just as likely to be beaten and tortured as a high-level drug suspect. This is Mexican policing 101. But worse than that, to somehow imply that torture would have been correct, even moral, in this situation, just as it is justified all the time on TV (24) by the “ticking time bomb” scenario is ridiculous. Did they think Chapo had wired the beach resort in Mazatlan with atomic bombs? Set to go off if the feds got too close? And just in case anyone wants to look into torture and the fact that the “ticking time bomb” scenario has always been a false and unsustainable defense for torture, read Alfred McCoy.
McCoy is interviewed here:
Alfred McCoy: “Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation”  TORTURE 101…
So it goes… The New Yorker enshrines the official versions of the US and Mexican governments on the capture of Guzman. And admirers of Jack Bauer swoon over those tough guys who use torture to protect us. The business goes on as normal. molly

The Hunt For El Chapo: How the world’s most notorious drug lord was captured…New Yorker

The Hunt For El Chapo: How the world’s most notorious drug lord was captured

By Patrick Radden Keefe

One afternoon last December, an assassin on board a K.L.M. flight from Mexico City arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. This was not a business trip: the killer, who was thirty-three, liked to travel, and often documented his journeys around Europe on Instagram. He wore designer clothes and a heavy silver ring in the shape of a grimacing skull.

Click here for the full article.

Arsene Van Nierop Book Presentation at NMSU, Wed May 7

Arsene Van Nierop will speak and present her book at the Nason House at NMSU, Wednesday, May 7th, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. The Nason House (Center for Border & Latin American Studies) is on University Avenue, just across from Kinkos. 

For more information, please contact Prof. Cynthia Bejarano, Criminal Justice Department, NMSU,

Un grito de socorro desde Juarez by Arsène van Nierop

Arsène van Nierop

On September 19th, 1998, Hester Van Nierop was murdered in Ciudad Juárez. Arsène discovered that the murder of her daughter was not an isolated case: between 1992 and 1998 at least 400 women were murdered in Juárez.

Ingrid Therese de Vries

Since 2012, Ingrid is involved in the Hester Foundation, and is the translator of Arsène’s book.

*In early 2014, Hestor’s murderer was apprehended in the U.S.

Wednesday, May 7th at the Nason House 

4:00 – 6:00 p.m. 

Arsène van Nierop

Hester van Nierop

Ciudad Juárez’s Perverse Development: Knowledge City By Sandra Rodríguez Nieto

Ciudad Juárez is not all about the drug war. The city is a complex place: 1.3 million people live here. It’s not the Wild West, as some writers seem to make out. And the city is woefully served by its leaders, political, educational, or otherwise. This October 2011 article by Sandra Rodríguez Nieto lays bare the human costs to students in higher education of these problems.

The article commemorates the two year anniversary of the murder of journalist Regina Martínez a fearless documenter of public corruption in Mexico.

Ciudad Juárez’s Perverse Development: Knowledge City — Between Scholarly Pursuits and Private Interests

By Sandra Rodríguez Nieto (EL DIARIO DE JUÁREZ)

Even though his classes begin at 0800, David Valles, 19, and a resident of Colonia Monumental, has to get up before 0600 so that he can take the Indiobús at 0640 from the Zona Centro. From there it takes him more than an hour to arrive at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez’s (UACJ) new southeast campus, 16kms from the southern limits of the border city.

Click here to read the rest of the article.


Policewoman Arrested for Murder in Shooting Yesterday

In an incident yesterday, four people were shot outside of a house in the Colonia Anahuac. One victim died. An active agent of the municipal police, a woman identified as Verónica Cinthia Martínez Morales, 30, was arrested as being one of the shooters. Three young men were also arrested. 

The article reports that so far this year, 139 people have been murdered in Juarez–30 in January, 40 in February, 42 in March and so far 27 in April. Click here to read the El Diaro story in Spanish.

Also posted below is an article reporting on the finding of a body south of the city along the Casa Grandes highway. It has not been identified but police think is was a woman, based on the clothing found at the scene. No cause of death is reported. Click here to read the article.

Mexico Forbids Drug Lord’s Extradition Even As Negotiations With US Continue

This is worth listening to.  One of the more honest looks at the arrest of Chapo in the US media.  Note the statement of the unnamed legal clerk in the audio of the story.

Fronteras Desk spoke with a judge’s clerk in Chihuahua. Fearing possible retribution, he asked that we not use him name. He says Guzmán’s testimony would expose long-alleged government involvement in organized crime. “If he told the truth, you’d find out he’s not even the biggest player,” the man said in Spanish. “You’d soon see connections with (Mexican) congressional representatives and senators.

Mexico Forbids Drug Lord’s Extradition Even As Negotiations With US Continue

By Lorne Matalon

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico — On Feb. 22 the world’s most wanted drug trafficker — Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, known as “El Chapo,” or “Shorty”— was captured in a joint U.S.-Mexico operation.

Click here to read the rest of the story and listen to the audio.

‘Man in the Middle’ separates Ruben Salazar from his myth…LATimes

‘Man in the Middle’ separates Ruben Salazar from his myth
By Yvonne Villarreal April 26, 2014, 6:00 a.m.

His is a name that has appeared in this publication’s pages hundreds of times — as an author and as a subject. It’s a name that calls up notions of the Latino struggle for civil rights and the radical Chicano movement in Los Angeles.

It’s also a name that initially made filmmaker Phillip Rodriguez groan when someone suggested the life behind the name as a subject for his next documentary.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

A Decade Without A Single Public Official Guilty Of The Crime Of Torture (Animal Politico)

Thanks to Patrick for this translation of an Animal Político story about torture in Mexico. Not a single English-speaking journalist has covered the visit to Mexico of the Special Rapporteur on Torture. The article points out Mexico’s failure to investigate, prosecute, and punish serious human rights violations.

This article was published on 24 April 2014 in AnimalPolítico. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

Human Rights Abuse in Mexico: A Decade Without a Single Public Official Guilty of the Crime of Torture

By Tania L. Montalvo (ANIMALPOLÍTCO)

– Investigations Exist but no Punishment for Public Officials in either Military or Civilian Jurisdictions

Over the past decade — and in response to public information requests — figures provided by the Federal Attorney General (PGR) and the Ministry of Defense (SEDENA) show that not a single official has been published for the crime of torture, neither in civil nor military jurisdictions.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

ICE Rarely Uses Prosecutorial Discretion to Close Immigration Cases…TRAC

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
The use of prosecutorial discretion (PD) by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to close cases in the Immigration Courts continues to be relatively rare — only 6.7 percent of cases were closed on this basis between October 2012 and March 2014. Overall PD usage has hovered in the six to eight percent range for months, though its use varies widely by location.

As of March 31, 2014, Immigration Courts with ICE PD closures in the three to four percent range included those in San Antonio, New York City, Las Vegas and Newark. The Houston, Buffalo and El Paso courts saw even lower levels: less than three percent. On the other hand, the PD closure rate for the Tucson and Seattle courts has been about 30 percent during the past 18 months.

For the complete list documenting the use of PD in each Immigration Court and hearing location, updated with the latest court data through March 2014, see TRAC’s Prosecutorial Discretion tool at:

For ICE PD usage in earlier years, see the TRAC report at:

To keep up with TRAC, follow us on Twitter @tracreports or like us on Facebook:

TRAC is self-supporting and depends on foundation grants, individual contributions and subscription fees for the funding needed to obtain, analyze and publish the data we collect on the activities of the US Federal government. To help support TRAC’s ongoing efforts, go to:

David Burnham and Susan B. Long, co-directors
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
Syracuse University
Suite 360, Newhouse II
Syracuse, NY  13244-2100

Trapping El Chapo: Chicago’s public enemy number one …Chicago Reader

Trapping El Chapo: Chicago’s public enemy number one

What the case against Vicente Zambada, son of Sinaloa cartel leader El Mayo, reveals about the federal government’s efforts to take down overseas drug suppliers—including the biggest of them all.

By: Jason McGahan

On February 22, the Mexican navy arrested Sinaloa cartel leader El Chapo Guzman, who surrendered without firing a shot.

For Latin American drug kingpins, there are few fates as terrible as extradition to the United States.

“They can’t bribe their way out, they can’t build their own jails, they can’t have their girlfriends come in,” says Jack Riley, chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Chicago. “And they’re 1,800 miles away from what they know as life.”

Read the rest of the story here.