Feature

The U.S. helps capture a drug boss

The capture of the drug lord “El Chapo” is a huge win for President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The capture of the drug lord “El Chapo” is a huge win for President Enrique Peña Nieto, said Guillermo Ortega in La Crónica de Hoy. Joaquín Guzmán, the brutal leader of the Sinaloa cartel, has mocked successive Mexican presidents for years. He escaped from a Mexican high security prison in 2001 under then President Vicente Fox, and evaded capture during the entire tenure of President Felipe Calderón despite a massive deployment of soldiers to Sinaloa state. El Chapo traveled on private jets and lived lavishly. We would hear of “his latest amorous exploit” or an opulent party, and then we would see bodies hung on meat hooks with a threatening note. It was hard to escape the conclusion that the authorities were somehow complicit with Guzmán. But now Peña Nieto, after just over a year in office, has “ended this period of unacceptable impunity that shamed the country.” And there’s one more winner: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration “can claim partial credit and thus justify its bloated budget.”

The Americans do deserve some credit, said Excélsior in an editorial. Initial reports claimed that Guzmán was pinpointed at a hotel in the Pacific beach town of Mazatlán through the GPS on his phone, but this is false, as he was actually using “a cheapie throwaway” phone with no GPS. “Why not say what really happened—the Mexican navy and the DEA had a common goal” and shared information to get their target. “It’s called cooperation; why be afraid to acknowledge it?” Maybe the Mexican authorities don’t want to call attention to the fact that the DEA prefers to work only with the navy and the marines, and not with the Mexican army. The fact that Guzmán’s bodyguard, also captured, was a former army officer should “tell us all we need to know.”

No wonder the U.S. wants Guzmán extradited as soon as possible, said Lydia Cacho in El Mañana. “The message from Washington to Peña Nieto is, ‘We don’t trust you not to either release him or allow his escape.’” For us Mexicans, the irony is rich. This president may relish the capture, but “there are 100 officials from his own party who tremble in fear that an extradited Guzmán might tell the U.S. how many billions of dollars his criminal enterprise invested in the elections of our mayors, governors, and presidents.” Guzmán’s capture is irrelevant “without a true international and transparent effort to dismantle the networks of corruption and accomplices” that allowed him to live so long on the run.

Now it’s the Mexican legal system that will be on trial as much as Guzmán, said El Universal. He deserves the chance to fight his extradition in court “in accordance with the laws that protect all Mexicans,” but let’s not forget that he is already a convicted felon, drug dealer, and murderer who bought his way out of prison once before. That’s why this time, the prosecution must build an airtight case. There must be “no risk that officials are swayed by the corrupting power of money.” Mexico has a second chance to see that justice is served. We must show the world that a drug lord can’t buy us off.

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