HomeNewsAnalysisWhat's Next for Mexico After 'El Chapo' Recapture?
ANALYSIS

What's Next for Mexico After 'El Chapo' Recapture?

EL CHAPO / 8 JAN 2016 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán was reportedly recaptured in Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto announced on January 8 via Twitter.

After his initial tweet announcing Guzmán's arrest, Peña Nieto went on to thank Mexico's security cabinet for "this important accomplishment."  

Guzmán has been captured twice before: in 1993 and 2014. Both times he escaped from prison, the last time in July 2015, in dramatic fashion via a 1.6 km tunnel carved underneath a maximum security prison.

El Universal reported that the arrest was the result of an operation by Mexico's Navy, a force that is, by and large, perceived as the premier anti-drug unit. Earlier on January 8, the navy released a statement describing a shoot-out with criminal elements in Los Mochis, a small city in Sinaloa, resulting in five dead and six detained.

The manhunt also included what appeared to be a frantic search through the city's sewer system. On one prior attempt to capture him in early 2014, Guzmán had escaped via the sewer system in the city of Culiacan. In Los Mochis, several news outlets, such as the Los Angeles Times, reported that Guzmán and others with him had escaped via the sewers and stolen a car before authorities finally entrapped them. 

Notably, Los Mochis is an area that was traditionally controlled by a one-time faction of the Sinaloa Cartel, the Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO), which has violently clashed with Guzmán since 2008, but has dwindled in power since. The house where Guzmán was allegedly living is near the house of the mother of the current Sinaloa governor, one witness to the operation told Univisión TV. 

The navy has a long history of collaboration with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and were behind the near recapture of Guzmán in October 2015. The navy is also responsible for arresting or killing many of Mexico's top drug traffickers, including another mythical figure in Mexico's underworld who went by the alias "The Craziest One," and El Chapo's ally-turned-rival, Arturo Beltrán Leyva.

16-01-08-chaporecapture

Images of Chapo's arrest, via Animal Politico 

InSight Crime Analysis

There are several questions following Guzmán's recapture. The first is whether Peña Nieto's government will swiftly initiate extradition proceedings against the Sinaloa Cartel leader and how long this will take. Previously, this was a sticking point between the two countries, with Mexico reluctant to send Guzmán to the US before he stood trial for his crimes in Mexico. 

However, following Guzmán's escape from a high-security prison in July 2015, Mexico proceeded to extradite over a dozen suspected drug traffickers to the US. In political and diplomatic terms, Mexican authorities would have a difficult time maintaining their previous position that Guzmán should first face justice in Mexico.

Still, some might see Chapo's extradition to the US as an embarrassing admission of the depth of incompetence in Mexico. What's more, Chapo may have some other tricks up his sleeve. His legal team will undoubtedly file an injunction, or what's called an "amparo" in Mexico, calling the extradition unconstitutional and delaying the extradition process. The amparo could slow the extradition process for months, if not years.

But as his rivals in the Beltrán Leyva Organization found, even the amparo has its limits. And Mexican analysts, such as Alejandro Hope at the El Daily Post, say that the extradition is inevitable. (See video below)

 

The recapture of El Chapo. Read Alejandro Hope's analysis here: https://bit.ly/1OVUhBs

Posted by El Daily Post on Friday, January 8, 2016

The second question concerns Peña Nieto's presidency. The administration will likely continue to tout Guzmán's arrest as an "important accomplishment," and it may boost his standing, at least in the short term.

The issue will be how Peña Nieto continues the momentum. Last year was a tough one for the president in terms of security issues: besides Guzmán's escape, the government was also found to have bungled the investigation into 43 missing students, who disappeared after police attacked a caravan of protestors. 

The third question concerns the Sinaloa Cartel. It remains one of the most powerful, monolithic drug trafficking empires in Mexico, and there is little to suggest that Chapo's jailing will severely hamper their worldwide drug distribution services. Still, if Chapo is extradited there will be a finality to his story that Mexico could not provide.   

*This story has been updated since it was first published by Steven Dudley. It will continue to be updated as more information on Guzmán's recapture emerges. 

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

HUMAN SMUGGLING / 1 APR 2015

Mexican authorities have captured an alleged member of the Zetas implicated in the 2010 massacre of 72 immigrants, which…

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 1 JUN 2012

A flood of villagers are fleeing their homes in the state of Sinaloa, driven out by a battle between two…

EL CHAPO / 13 MAR 2017

Considered by the US government to be the most powerful drug dealer of all time, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…