El Chapo Recaptured after Two Successful Prison Breaks

Posted on February 2, 2016 by

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Joaquin Guzman (El Chapo) has escaped maximum security prisons twice, and after a six month run from the law, he has finally been recaptured. El Chapo was public enemy number one for Mexico and the United States. The recapture of El Chapo has struck a blow at the heart of international drug trafficking.

Born to a family of peasants and a life of strife, Guzman became involved with the cartel for the first time when he was just twenty-years-old. He skyrocketed to the top, making his way through the underbelly of Mexican crime to become the, “Godfather of the drug world,” a name crowned to him to by Forbes magazine.

Throughout his criminal career, he has exported more than 500 tons of Cocaine through the United States alone, providing him with a net worth estimated at $1 billion dollars. Such illegal wealth does not come without a hefty price, with bounties leading to his capture adding up to millions of dollars, ranging from 60 million Pesos (3.8 million US dollars) offered from the Mexican government, in addition to the $5 million dollar reward offered by the United States government.

He was captured for his first time in 1993 in Guatemala, extradited to Mexico, where he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, of which he only served 8 before escaping by bribing the guards and virtually walking out the front gate in 2001. After another thirteen years of reigning over the drug trade freely, he was captured for the second time on 22 February 2014.

Following his sentencing, he was placed under heavy guard at the Federal Social Readaptation No. 1. He was to serve approximately 300-400 years in the maximum security prison.  He served barely over a year. He escaped on 11 July 2015. His escape occurred through a mile long tunnel that was thirty feet underground, complete with a rail system fitted with a custom-fitted, rail-riding motorcycle engineered for a quick escape. The tunnel led from a construction site to a whole directly underneath Guzman’s shower in his cell. This was his second escape from a maximum security prison.

Returning to hiding to elude capture, he reached out to filmmakers in order to make his own movie, a biopic, telling the story of his life. Through his contact with actors and journalists, he came in contact with actor Sean Penn.

Penn interviewed the fugitive, wanting Guzman to elaborate on his history and the vast nature of his criminal empire. With this long, seven-hour interview with El Chapo, he learned and shared much of the notorious drug lord’s past.

Following Guzman’s third capture on 8 January 2016, this interview was released in the Rolling Stone magazine accompanied by much controversy. Many people accused Penn of committing an act that was morally wrong by interviewing the fugitive. Legal experts have cleared Penn of committing any criminal acts by interviewing the fugitive.

Legal expert and professor at the Georgetown University Law School, Paul Rothstein commented on the topic: “There is no criminal liability for seeing something illegal and not reporting it.  If Sean did nothing but visit and report, he is protected by the First Amendment, and is in the clear.”

His capture on 8 January 2016 will be punctuated by the US’s request to extradite Guzman to an American prison to prevent him from ruling his drug empire from prison and eventually escaping again. Unfortunately, the extradition process may take upwards of a year, as it is bogged down by paperwork filed by Guzman’s lawyers. In the meantime, Guzman will enjoy his mighty fine view of his prison cell in the same maximum security prison in which he previously escaped from, very likely for the rest of his life.

Posted in: Eric Ebner