The Relentless El Chapo


Jeremy Martineau and Dan Lonergan

dan el chapoAfter over six months on the run, fugitive Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, drug lord from the Sinaloa Cartel, was recaptured in the Sinaloa state, in northwestern Mexico, during a military operation after he escaped from a high security prison last year, in central Mexico. Guzmán has had a long history of crime, escapes, and drugs, which is what has led to him being the most notorious drug lord in the world.

El Chapo was believed to be born on April 4th, 1957, but other sources also state he could have been born on December 25, 1954, which there has been lots of speculation about.  El Chapo grew up in a poor family, in Badiraguato, Sinaloa, Mexico. At a young age,  he dropped out of school to work with his father.  Soon, at the age of 15, he created his own Marijuana plant with four of his distant cousins who lived nearby. After being kicked out of his house, he went to live with his grandfather, where he got the nickname “El Chapo” a Mexican term for shorty, because Guzmán is 5 ft 6 in.

After a couple years, El Chapo left his hometown in his 20’s and joined organized crime with his uncle, Pedro Avilés Pérez, one of the top drug traffickers in Mexico. Asking Dylan Forrester, a Ipswich High student, on what he thought on Guzmán, he replied, “Even though he is a drug lord, he was trying to do what was necessary for himself to make a living; it’s wrong, and he got in love with the money, but he never intended on being seen as the villain.” In 1985, Guzmán’s boss was arrested which led to El Chapo quickly becoming one of the top drug lords in Mexico. He quickly became very well known because of his underground tunnels, transporting drugs through them. Asking Dylan if he had known of El Chapo before his famous prison escape in 2014, he replied, “Yeah, I had heard of him before. Mainly on the news, I knew he was one of the top drug lords when he was arrested.” But before his arrest, he had made a very big name for himself. By the early 1990’s, he was already being watched by the DEA and considered one of Mexico’s most powerful and dangerous drug traffickers.

In 1993, Guzmán fled to Guatemala after he survived an assassination attempt that killed a catholic cardinal, but once he got to Guatemala he was handed over to police. He was given a 20-year sentence, which he did not complete. In 2001, he managed his first ever escape. Guzmán escaped prison in a laundry cart with the help of some of the prison guards in the high-security Puente Grande prison. For 13 years, he managed to avoid being captured even though his hideouts were an open thing among locals of where he lived. Until February 22, 2014, Mexican marines caught Guzmán a couple days after he escaped through a secret door under his bath tub that led into a tunnel network. Yet, less than 18 months after getting caught, Guzmán managed to yet again escape prison, in July, 2015. Guzmán slipped through an opening in his cells shower, made it down a 30-foot ladder, and went through a tunnel network that connected his cell to a house that was under construction a mile away. That was until January 8, 2016, after about six months on the run, Guzmán, for the third time, was recaptured by Mexican marines. Asking Mr. Pleines, a Ipswich High School teacher, on what he thinks Mexico should do with Guzmán now, he replied, “ Expedited. If he can escape twice before, chances are he can do it again, and I have the attitude of you do the crime, you do the time, and U.S. prisons would be much more tough to escape from.” Mexican officials returned him to the previous prison he had escaped, Altiplano Prison. Guzmán now awaits if he will be expedited to the United States, or stay in Mexico, to finish his prison sentence.