HomeNewsAnalysis5 Reasons El Chapo's Escape Doesn't Matter
ANALYSIS

5 Reasons El Chapo's Escape Doesn't Matter

EL CHAPO / 15 JUL 2015 BY JAMES BOSWORTH EN

Of course El Chapo's escape from prison matters. But if you're reading this article, you've probably already read a dozen articles or analysis pieces explaining why. You don't need me to restate them. It's more useful and fun to be the writer arguing against the conventional wisdom. So here are the reasons Guzman's escape doesn't matter.

Guzman's escape is unlikely to impact Mexico's security situation. If you check the statistics in the past two years, Guzman's arrest did not significantly improve or deteriorate the overall security situation in Mexico and his escape is unlikely to change the current trends. Guzman's leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel doesn't impact the average person on the street. The average person's security in Mexico is far more impacted by the criminal mugging people in the park, the gang extorting the local restaurant, the crooked taxi driver committing express kidnappings or the police officer who isn't doing his job. Big organized crime issues matter for Mexico's overall security and stability, but the arrest or escape of one leader is not moving the statistics that matter to the general population.

This article originally appeared on James Bosworth's blog Bloggings by Boz. It is reprinted with permission.

Guzman's escape will not impact the viability of the Sinaloa Cartel. The criminal organization didn't appear to take a serious hit when Guzman was arrested. Guzman's arrest did not set off a major internal leadership battle inside his criminal group (though leadership battles did occur in a few cities). His return shouldn't alter the internal dynamics or day to day operations of the criminal group much. The fact that his organization managed to successfully build that tunnel also suggests that perhaps Guzman never really lost control, even from within the prison. In either case, the Sinaloa Cartel is a criminal network that is more dynamic than its leadership and it continues along.

Guzman's escape is unlikely to change US-Mexico relations. The US and Mexico have a lot of important bilateral issues that go beyond this one high profile individual. Optimistically, the US will not and should not let this single issue get in the way of a big and important partnership that includes far more than security issues. Pessimistically, the US rarely lets failures like Guzman's escape cause a major change or rethink in its security and counter-narcotics policies, partnerships and strategies. In spite of some officials grumbling off the record in the media, the US will continue to push forward with its security partnership with Mexico because that's what the US does in this hemisphere.

SEE ALSO:  Mexico News and Profiles

Guzman's escape won't impact EPN's political standing. For all the pundits who say this escape was a blow to the government's security narrative, it will be hard to find anyone whose mind was actually changed by this escape. Nearly every person quoted in the media about how this is a big blow to President Peña Nieto are people who were already critics of the president before this event. For those who were skeptical before, this escape certainly reinforced that skepticism. But people who believed the government before the escape are likely to continue believing government statements now about being committed to recapturing the criminal leader. The last three years have seen several events in Mexico that have led analysts to claim "this is the moment the public's mind will change," but few events create a public opinion paradigm shift and this is not one of them.

SEE ALSO:  Sinaloa Cartel News and Profiles

Individual criminal leaders are overrated. As a writer, it's always easier to write about individual criminal leaders than the big criminal systems and macro-trends that drive them. In the particular case of El Chapo, it's hard to not be attracted to the narrative of the criminal billionaire on the run and his Hollywood-esque prison escape. But analysts know that the individual criminal leadership matter less than the bigger issues that drive crime and violence.

Mexico, like many of the countries in the hemisphere impacted by high levels of violence and organized crime, needs to reform its police, judicial system and penitentiary system. It needs to provide education and economically viable employment opportunities to its population. It needs to break networks of corruption, knock down money laundering networks and work with the United States to reduce southbound weapons trafficking and bulk cash shipments.

Whether El Chapo is free or in prison, alive or dead, those bigger issues impact Mexico's security far more than any individual criminal leader. Chasing down HVTs may be part of a strategy, but the whac-a-mole game played against the criminal leadership can't be a substitute for bigger reforms and smarter policies to bring sustainable security and peace.

This article originally appeared on James Bosworth's blog Bloggings by Boz. It is reprinted with permission.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 14 JAN 2013

Photographs of a dog reportedly maimed by drug traffickers in Mexico are attracting attention from world media, shining a spotlight…

MEXICO / 27 MAR 2013

Italian police have uncovered a drug trafficking ring in Milan that used dogs as drug "mules," or couriers, to…

MEXICO / 4 OCT 2013

Mexico has announced the arrest of an alleged Zetas member linked to the massacre of 17 musicians, in a case…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…