Sr. Guzmán has left the building
The story being given out — that somehow someone managed to dig a 1.5 Km tunnel (just under a mile) from outside Altaplano Prison into Chapo’s shower… UNDETECTED — is shall we say, an unprecedented opportunity for Mexicans to indulge in mordant humor?
Even His Excellency, Bishop Raúl Vera, has turned stand-up comic, suggesting the country build a monument to Chapo… who by his escape has shown the world how very corrupt both the penitentiary system and the “high echelons of power” are in this country.
It’s hard to believe, and it appears almost none of those who make their living following the narco-biz, do believe the official story. Under the jokes there is the sense that the “great escape” is the final straw in any belief that the present administration is competent to deal with national issues.
Bishop Vera, and most commentators see Chapo’s disappearing act as an obvious sign that he has the money and resources to “corrupt” anyone. No doubt he does, and no doubt that is an issue that needs to be addressed. But is it simply “corruption”?
There are those who think the government (ours, or that of the United States) may have preferred Chapo to return to his role as “first among equals” and mediator of the various enterprises known as the Sinaloa Cartel. For the Mexican government, which is reluctantly in the “drug war” business, an organized export system is less harmful than the disorganized (and deadly) system in which rival gangs fight over export routes.
And for the United States? Besides allowing the U.S. government to justify intervention in Mexico under the guise of “assistance”, there are other advantages for them if Chapo is out of prison. In some ways, having a clear “chain-of-command” makes life easier for U.S. law enforcement types. As Paul Imeson mentions in his forthcoming book Blood and Betrayal (Montezuma Books, 2015, ISBN: 978-1-937799-96-0), the “cartels” are more or less a fiction, being simply various gangs that co-operate in various criminal activities. The fiction of a “cartel” makes it possible to create operations charts and to rank various criminal bands in a hierarchy, thus simplifying resource allocation (and justifying expenses for anti-drug bureaucracies).
And, it should be pointed out that Chapo out of prison is less a threat to powerful interests than Chapo would be in prison. Lydia Cacho , for one, addresses the meme being floated (mostly by foreigners. as far as I can tell) that Chapo should have been extradited to the United States… supposedly the land of inescapable prisons (I guess because they’re run by private corporations, the government might demand a refund for escapees). Given the huge reluctance of U.S. prosecutors to look into the financial institutions that handle Chapo’s earnings (U.S. and British banks, for the most part), and their determination not to seriously pursue criminal charges against bankers, there is no reason to presume that Chapo, in the U.S. would be tried in a court, where he might mention these matters. I think it highly likely, that in US custody, Chapo’s fate would be that of Vicente Zambada Niebla. Zambada Nieba, son of Chapo’s closest associate (or possible rival), “El Mayo”, Ismael Zambada García, was “disappeared” into the U.S. prison system after he started to talk about the U.S. banking and DEA cooperation with the “cartel” in open court. I don’t think it is so much Chapo feared extradition to the U.S. as U.S. prosecutors feared Chapo.
At any rate, my thinking is that Chapo by now is back in the Sinaloan hill country. While I might not like his business, give the devil his due. USAnians positively want (or need) the products supplied by Chapo and his associates, and USAnians have always admired those poor boys who make themselves rich supplying their consumer needs, and tend to overlook what it took to get rich. Sure, Andrew Carniege and John D. Rockefeller had the “law” on their side when massacres were carried out to further their business interests, and Minor Keith didn’t build the United Fruit Company by anything other than corrupting officials and killing those in their way… they have their monuments. Perhaps Chapo does, too.