If the story didn’t already read like a movie, the life of the notorious drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman got a little help from Hollywood over the weekend. El Chapo was taken into custody and is back behind bars, for a second time, after a deadly shootout in his home state of Sinaloa, Mexico. On Saturday it was revealed that his capture may have been helped by a meeting the drug lord had with Sean Penn. Penn, who could have been gathering intel for a bio-pic, chronicled his visit in Rolling Stone.
Now there’s talk of extraditing the drug lord known as Shorty to the U.S. since Mexico can’t keep him caged. But what does all this mean for U.S.-Mexico relations? Reporter Angela Kocherga directs the borderlands program at the Cronkite School of Journalism.
“El Chapo’s back in that same prison where he escaped over the summer through a tunnel below his shower in his cell,” she says. “So that is the big concern – could he get out again?”
After the capture, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted Friday “mission accomplished” but he and Attorney General Arely Gómez have battled criticisms of corruption and ineptitude from their handling of El Chapo.
“It’s far from accomplished,” she says. “Many people believe the only way he can be secured is if he’s extradited.”
Kocherga says sources tell her that Mexico has agreed to send him to the U.S. “Once he’s on U.S. soil, he faces several indictments and is likely not to be able to escape from this side of the border,” she says.
In his meeting with Sean Penn, Kocherga says Guzman was “proud” of his cartel’s activities on the border, including the large amounts of meth and marijuana that have made it to the U.S. Guzman’s lawyers have put up “roadblocks” to thwart his extradition. Initially, the Mexican government said they planned to keep him locked up there because he had already been convicted in Mexico.
“Now they seemed to have changed their tune and realized that maybe the best thing is to send him across the border,” Kocherga says. “Legal experts seem to think this time Mexico will be successful in extraditing El Chapo to the U.S.”