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

US military plan to capture or kill Chapo Guzman–estilo Osama bin Laden

Headline says it all…Navy Seals, Northern Command, the whole deal… Only problem is Mexico doesn’t like such a plan… Oh, another problem as pointed out by one of the concise comments to the Proceso story online:
Están locos?, acabar con el chapo? Y el negocio donde queda?.

El problema no es el chapo, si ellos son los burros del salón. El problema son los que están atrás del chapo, empresarios, políticos, gobiernos.
El problema es el sistema.

Are they crazy? Do away with Chapo? And the business? What about that?
The problem is not El Chapo…The problem are those behind Chapo–businessmen, politicians, the governments.
The problem is the system…
I posted the story from El Diario with a google translation
EU has plan to end the Chapocomo did with Osama
J. Carrasco / J. Esquivel
Process | 08.11.2012 | 23:38
Federal District-face how hard it was to catch Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the U.S. government has prepared a plan to capture the drug dealer, the best known leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, in an operation similar to that undertaken in Pakistan last year to find Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaida.
Military sources in Mexico and the U.S. confirm the existence of the plan, which was developed by the Pentagon several months ago and now is being held because it is designed to be executed only by Americans, an idea that is not viewed with pleasure by their Mexican counterparts.
The plan even as he was introduced to Felipe Calderon, who promoted it among the armed forces. And although there was a sharp rejection of the Army and Navy of Mexico, Washington has not thrown away and propose it to the next president.
The plan there is an order from the Department of Defense and Northern Command have it considered as a priority mission, said a senior Mexican Army which by agreement is kept anonymous. The Pentagon claims due to the constant “dry wells” of the Mexican government to detain Guzman Loera escaped from the prison’s maximum security Puente Grande, Jalisco, in January 2001 during the presidency of Vicente Fox
The information needed to capture the drug lord was provided by U.S. agencies, primarily responsible for the war on drugs, DEA, so each “failed attempt” by the Mexican government has angered Washington.
For Mexico, the eventual U.S. military intervention in Mexico to take over the detention of “El Chapo” is “a very risky,” because in addition to a clear violation of the Constitution would lead to all sorts of problems, said the military official .
The proposed operation is detailed in the Safety Plan to Support Mexico designed by military strategists of the special forces of the Department of Defense United States, the Pentagon.
The execution of the operation would be in charge of the main U.S. special forces, Navy SEALs (an acronym of the words is, air, land), consisting of navy commandos trained for covert actions in enemy territory by sea, air or earth.
The operation would be a copy of the Pentagon ran secret in Pakistan to “capture or kill” bin Laden, who was finally killed in his hideout in May 2011.
From that experience Pentagon controls Calderon explained the proposal to stop “El Chapo”, in what was defined as an operation “simple, quick and surgical”.
In the mountains of Sinaloa, where Guzman Loera in and out at will, capturing three teams require special SEAL with the support of three digital high-tech aircraft operated by remote control and armed with missiles, according to the plan. Special forces would move by Sinaloa and Durango in helicopter gunships. On reaching the target two of the teams on the ground and another act would remain in the air, backed by drones, to prevent any retaliatory criminal group.
In 10 or 15 minutes both teams would catch the target and assault, according to the proposed operation, if you eliminate resistance found in the act, like all his guard.
The operation against “El Chapo” would be noted and addressed “real time” from the headquarters of the Pentagon’s Northern Command, and even from the offices of the National Security Council of the White House.
The plan does not fit the Mexican military or Army or Navy. Mexican soldiers enter only to present the results.
According to the military command consulted Process is clear that the U.S. has the ability to capture “El Chapo” in Mexico, but Mexican participation to simulate the Americans would have to dress up in uniforms of any domestic corporation, as the Federal Police.
For the Northern Command, created in 2002 by the Pentagon after the attacks of Al Qaeda in order to perform “delicate” to “the security of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico,” the capture of “El Chapo” is considered a mission.
Washington equates to Mexican drug cartels and terrorists and therefore are considered a threat to national security. Consequently, the Northern Command takes as its obligation to act against drug traffickers, the military chief added.
According to information gathered in Washington, Calderon accepted the U.S. proposal, but when the Pentagon said the operation would be carried out exclusively by U.S. military forces, it was rejected by the secretariats of National Defense the Navy, although this, unlike the Army, has favored his relationship with his American counterpart.
The head of the executive tried to convince the Mexican military leaders, while representatives of the Pentagon told them it would be analyzed and “after” would give the answer.
In desperation he argued that it would be an undercover operation and fast “that could fix” to avoid exposing the Pentagon, with the immediate departure of the seals, but the rejection of the Army and Navy was overwhelming. His arguments were the constitutional prohibition and the defense of sovereignty in the presence of foreign troops.
After the meeting with the commanders of the Army and Navy, Calderón ended by giving the Pentagon’s refusal to participate within Mexican soldiers and sailors.
Under these conditions, the U.S. Defence Department made it clear that the operation was inconceivable. But the military consulted is certain that the U.S. government “will press the next president of Mexico.”
To avoid surprises Mexican armed forces began a campaign among civil authorities to warn of the risk in a covert operation to capture or kill foreign “El Chapo”.
Invasions Experts
Indeed Obama issued on 24 July last year an executive order to block U.S. properties transnational criminal organizations four: The Brotherhood of the Circle or The Family of Eleven, which operates in the former Soviet Union, Middle East, Africa and Latin America, La Camorra in Italy, the Japanese Yakuza and the Zetas.
After the execution of Bin Laden, “El Chapo” for the United States became the world’s most wanted man. Both the DEA and the FBI have as their main objective abroad.
The operation proposed by the Pentagon to stop “El Chapo” in Mexico has been accompanied by a series of arrests of its members, associates and family in Mexico, Colombia, United States, and last week in Belize.
United States also has on its list of drug kingpins worldwide two sons and first wife of “El Chapo”, so there is an order to freeze the assets are or have accounts there. This is Ivan Guzman Salazar Archivaldo, “The Chapito” Ovidio Lopez and Maria Guzman Salazar Hernandez or Alexandrina.
The DEA also seeks to Jose Alfredo Guzman Salazar, who gave Navy arrested last June but the PGR immediately denied that this was the son of the head of the Sinaloa Cartel.
In the ongoing trial against him in federal court in Chicago, the U.S. government seeks to seize at least a thousand dollars 374 million, he says, has obtained the criminal organization in the past seven years, after the leak of “The Chapo “of the Puente Grande prison. (J. Carrasco / Jesquivel / Agency Reform)

Weighing Calderon’s Guilt in Mexico Drug War—InSight Crime report

By Geoffrey Ramsey

Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Sinaloa Cartel leader “Chapo” Guzman have been accused of crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC), raising questions about the application of international humanitarian law to the “war on drugs.”

The official complaint was filed in the ICC on November 25 by an enterprising team of legal scholars, activists, and journalists, and was supported by a petition bearing more than 20,000 signatures. According to human rights lawyer Netzai Sandoval, who is spearheading the case, the appeal to international law rather than Mexico’s courts was necessary because the Mexican judicial system lacks the “will and ability… to judge crimes against humanity.”

When the complaint was filed at the International Criminal Court, it garnered significant media attention in the US, and was been followed by analysts and pundits discussing the merits of the case. Last month Excelsior op-ed contributor Ricardo Aleman endorsed the charges against Calderon, predicting that “upon leaving office, he will become the most prosecuted of Mexican presidents.”

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