Captured sdrug boss Joaquin 'Shorty' Guzman is escorted by
soldiers. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Mexico's most wanted man, drug kingpin Joaquin "Shorty"
Guzman, has been captured, President Enrique Pena Nieto said
today, announcing a major victory for the government in a long,
brutal drugs war.
Guzman, known as "El Chapo" (Shorty) in Spanish, runs
Mexico's infamous Sinaloa Cartel and over the past decade
emerged as one of the world's most powerful organized crime
His cartel has smuggled billions of dollars worth of cocaine,
marijuana and methamphetamines into the United States, and
fought brutal wars with other Mexican gangs over turf and
drug-trafficking routes. Tens of thousands of people have
been killed in the fighting.
Pena Nieto confirmed the arrest via Twitter on Saturday and
congratulated his security forces.
A US government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity,
said earlier that Guzman was captured by US and Mexican
forces, without elaborating.
A Mexican security source said Guzman was detained in
Mazatlan, a seaside resort in Guzman's northwestern home
state of Sinaloa.
The capture is a huge political victory for Pena Nieto, who
took office in late 2012.
"Chapo is the jewel in the crown, the most wanted drug boss
in recent years and in that sense this is a great success,"
said Jorge Chabat, an expert on drug trafficking at the CIDE
Local television broadcast a photograph of a man it said was
detained in the operation, who bears a resemblance to Guzman.
The man had a small black moustache, and was shirtless.
The 5-foot 6-inch (1.7-metre) tall Guzman's exploits have
made him a legend in many impoverished communities of
northern Mexico, where he was immortalized in dozens of
ballads and low budget movies.
The United States had placed a $5 million bounty on
56-year-old Guzman's head and authorities in Chicago last
year dubbed him the city's first Public Enemy No.1 since
gangster Al Capone.
Nearly 80,000 people have died in drug-related killings in
Mexico since former President Felipe Calderon sent in the
army in early 2007 to quell the powerful drug bosses, a
policy that Pena Nieto has criticized but found tough to
From humble beginnings in a ramshackle village, Guzman rose
up in the 1980s under the tutelage of Sinaloan kingpin Miguel
Angel Felix Gallardo, alias "The Boss of Bosses," who
pioneered cocaine smuggling routes into the United States.
He came to prominence in 1993 when assassins who shot dead
Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas claimed they had
been gunning for Guzman but got the wrong target.
Guzman is the latest in a series of high profile capos to be
caught or killed.
Last July, Pena Nieto's government caught the leader of the
Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino, aka Z-40.
The Zetas have been blamed for many of the worst atrocities
carried out by Mexican drug gangs, acts that have sullied the
country's name and put fear into tourists and investors
Founded by army deserters in the late 1990s, the Zetas
initially acted as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel. But cracks
began to appear and the rupture was sealed in early 2010,
setting off the most violent phase in Mexico's drug war.
Calderon, a conservative, had staked his reputation on
bringing Mexico's powerful drug gangs to heel, sending in the
While his forces captured or killed many of the top capos,
cartels splintered amid leadership challenges and turf wars
exploded across Mexico.
He congratulated Pena Nieto and his government in a message
on Twitter on Saturday, describing the arrest as a "great
Analysts were divided on who whether Guzman's lieutenant
Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada would take the helm of the Sinaloa
Alejandro Hope, security director at the Mexican
Competitiveness Institute think tank, said Guzman's downfall
represented the end of a 30-year era of high-profile drug
lords running riot across Mexico.
"There will be very few figures of this caliber," he said.
Pena Nieto has sought to play down the drug fight in public,
instead seeking to focus public attention on a series of
economic reforms spanning energy to telecoms which he has
pushed through Congress and aim to boost long-lagging
He has also tried an unorthodox strategy, co-opting
vigilantes in western Mexico in the fight against the feared
Knights Templar Cartel, which security experts is potentially
playing with fire.
Guzman has been caught before, and famously gave his jailers
He escaped a Mexican prison, reportedly in a laundry cart, in
2001 to become the country's most high-profile trafficker. He
is believed to command groups of hitmen from the US border
into Central America.
He was indicted in the United States on dozens of charges of
racketeering and conspiracy to import cocaine, heroin,
marijuana and crystal meth.
Guzman was listed for a time in Forbes' annual list of
billionaires around the world but he was dropped last year,
because it was impossible to verify his wealth.