U.S. and Mexican authorities have been chasing Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman for more than a decade. The Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement had been working with Mexican marines to track down the drug lord, but he has stayed days, and sometimes just hours, ahead of his pursuers until recently captured.
According to The Associated Press, El Chapo has used the most sophisticated technology to counter the efforts of law enforcement, allowing him to move freely and live a surprisingly normal life for being one of the most wanted men in the world.
The question now is what happens next to El Chapo. Several U.S. states want the man brought to trial on drug-trafficking charges. “Among the allegations levied by prosecutors in Chicago was that Guzman and several of his cohorts discussed staging attacks on U.S. or Mexican facilities in Mexico to express outrage at the extradition of cartel members to the United States,” the AP has reported.
However, Mexican authorities want their chance to prosecute him, meaning extradition could be years away.
U.S. prosecutors are right to be concerned. Mexican authorities had El Chapo once already. He escaped from a prison there in 2001, and it is reported that he still controlled his empire from his cell.
El Chapo has public support in his home state of Sinaloa, not uncommon in a country where the drug trade supports local economies. Likewise, the drug lord's money and power can sway corrupt officials.
Another drug lord will fill the vacuum left by El Chapo, just as he stepped in to fill vacuums left by rivals. Therefore, the greatest value he has to authorities in Mexico and the United States is the information he holds on the operations of drug traffickers.
In the custody of Mexican authorities, will he talk? That seems unlikely. If prison officials can be bought to allow his escape, they can be swayed to not protect him from harm.
If the the years of work that has gone into El Chapo's capture is to be worth it, the drug lord must be tried in the United States, where his incarceration would be secure.