HomeNewsBrief‘El Chapo’ Works with Rival ‘La Barbie’ in Mexico Prison Hunger Strike
BRIEF

'El Chapo' Works with Rival 'La Barbie' in Mexico Prison Hunger Strike

MEXICO / 22 JUL 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

Captured Sinaloa Cartel leader "El Chapo" Guzman has reportedly banded together with rival "La Barbie" to organize a hunger strike from his isolation cell, suggesting the kingpin does not enjoy the run of the prison granted him by corrupt authorities during his last stint behind bars.

According to a Proceso report by journalist Anabel Hernandez -- author of bestselling book "Los Señores del Narco" -- Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias "El Chapo," has organized nearly 1,000 prisoners from five wings of the Altiplano maximum security prison in Mexico State to stop eating in protest of alleged violations of their human rights.

To coordinate the strike he sought out the help of former Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) leader Edgar Valdez Villareal, alias "La Barbie," who is also locked up in solitary confinement, according to Hernandez. 

Among the complaints made by the prisoners, who have reportedly been on strike since July 16, are that they are not allowed to access personal hygiene items brought by their families, that they have been denied medical attention, their prison uniforms are not washed regularly and visiting and phone rights are not respected. 

InSight Crime Analysis

El Chapo and La Barbie have been rivals since former allies the Sinaloa Cartel and BLO split acrimoniously in 2008. However, it appears that any hard feelings have not been enough to stop the two men from coordinating activities since Chapo's February arrest and subsequent imprisonment.

SEE ALSO: El Chapo Profile

This is not the first time La Barbie -- who has been held in Altiplano since 2010 -- has made a show by holding a hunger strike, though an attempt in 2011 reportedly failed to exclude non-perishable items from his diet, and did not involve other prisoners.

The drug lords' current initiative stands in contrast to Chapo's first spell in prison, which began in 1993, when he was able to pay off virtually the entire prison staff so that he could maintain a lavish lifestyle, and according to Hernandez's investigations, bribed staff to smuggle him out of the facilities. 

Nonetheless, while Chapo may no longer hold the reins of power in prison, the fact that two major drug lords held in solitary confinement have found a way to coordinate a nearly 1,000 man hunger strike is evidence they are still powerful figures in the prison and maintain the capacity to overcome rules and regulations. 

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