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

About virginiaisaad

Virginia is a journalist based in Los Angeles who's written for publications including Los Angeles magazine, Upworthy, and Elite Daily. She was born in Argentina and raised in the San Fernando Valley along with her three siblings. Fun fact: She took a Chicanas and Feminism course with Eva Longoria while studying for her master's in mass communication at California State University, Northridge. Follow her on Twitter @virginiaisaad

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