l. “You will be carrying money, of course. And our weapons.”
“Hey, buddy. I want you to know something,” Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán-Loera said to the veteran helicopter pilot who he nicknamed ‘Tinieblo’ (Twilight). The pilot had just arrived in Sinaloa, Mexico from Miami, to begin flying for Guzmán-Loera.
“I’m all ears, Mr. Guzmán,” answered the pilot. He knew his new boss was no saint, but didn’t know much else.
“Do you recognize me?” inquired Guzmán.
“I’m afraid I don’t, sir,” answered the pilot.
“I’m no little angel,” Guzmán said. “But later I’ll tell you the story of a cardinal of the Catholic Church they assassinated, mistaking him for me.”
As Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman awaitsextradition to the United States, he leaves behind what appears to be a new landscape for Mexico’s drug cartels.
Last week, his son, Jesus Alfredo Guzman, was kidnapped by men authorities believe were members of a rival cartel. Sources tell CNN he was released Saturday, but his abduction signals that the game of thrones for Mexico’s next top drug cartel has already begun.
Ridley Scott is to direct an adaptation of Don Winslow’s Mexican drug-war thiller The Cartel, after the rights to the novel were acquired by 20th Century Fox after a fierce bidding contest, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
It is set during the narco-terror of the period 2004-10, and follows a DEA agent and a cartel operative as they try to take each other down.
According to a report in Deadline, Fox stumped up around $6m for rights to The Cartel as well as an earlier Winslow novel, The Power of the Dog, which features the same characters, and writers’ fees.
Scott’s commitment to directing the film was apparently instrumental in securing the deal, in the face of rival bids from the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way production company.
However, DiCaprio’s interest in the project means that he is being actively courted to play the DEA agent.
Scott is currently completing the space-survival thriller The Martian, starring Matt Damon, and could take this on once that is completed. DiCaprio, likewise, has finished shooting the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed western The Revenant.
A shooting incident last month that forced a U.S. border patrol helicopter to make an emergency landing near Laredo, Texas, was the work of Mexican drug traffickers, and analysts say the attack highlights growing narcotics trafficking across porous U.S. borders.
According to U.S. officials familiar with an investigation of the June 5 incident, members of the Los Zetas drug cartel were crossing back into Mexico from the United States when they were spotted by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) helicopter along the Rio Grande River near Laredo.
The traffickers had finished delivering a shipment of drugs and were returning to Mexico when they were spotted by U.S. agents and opened fired with automatic weapons.
The helicopter, part of USCBP’s Office of Air and Marine, was struck by gunfire on its side and on the rotor blade. The pilot was forced to make an emergency landing.
The law enforcement officers on the helicopter spotted the traffickers along the river during a routine flight around 5:00 P.M. local time June 5.
“The pilot was able to make a safe landing; there were no injuries,” said USCBP spokesman Daniel Hetlage, adding that U.S. and Mexican authorities are continuing to investigate. He declined to elaborate.
“I understand that they were chasing some people with bundles of marijuana,” Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar told the Laredo Morning Times. “People are getting desperate and crossing narcotics across the border.”
The helicopter that took fire was an EC-120, a medium-range turbine engine-powered aircraft.
A U.S. official said the helicopter attack was unusual but not unprecedented. The incident was not widely reported at the time and highlights the increasing danger of porous U.S. borders and widespread drug trafficking that takes place across them, the official said.
U.S. border security problems are expected to be a major topic of debate during the presidential election campaign.
The area near Laredo is a major transit route for Zetas drug runners.
Joel Vargas, head of intelligence for the international association InterPort Police, said the recent escape of Mexican drug kingpin El Chapo Guzman will re-energize drug cartel cells in Mexico that are battling the major Sinaloa drug cartel.
“The partnership between the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, even with their own internal fighting going on, makes the border town of Laredo, Texas, a powder keg,” Vargas said. “El Chapo will re-attempt to take back not only Laredo, Texas, but also consolidate control of El Paso, Texas.”
A month after the U.S. helicopter was forced down by gunfire, Mexican authorities killed six drug runners near Mexico’s Nuevo Laredo, across the border from Laredo, Texas.
The six suspects had fired on a Mexican Blackhawk helicopter, hitting it several times.
The Mexican helicopter incident July 6 involved an armed convoy of suspected Zetas drug cartel members.
According to U.S. officials, the Zetas are a well-armed organization. Authorities in Guatemala have captured M-16 and AK-47 rifles and grenades from Zetas operating in that country.
The Zetas also make extensive use of social media. The group has posted photos of beheadings it has carried out against members of rival drug gangs. It has also claimed responsibility for killing several bloggers who they say had exposed some of the group’s members.
The Zetas were implicated in an Iranian plot in 2011 to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, a paramilitary and covert action force, attempted to recruit Zetas members to conduct attacks against the United States.
The Quds force also has been seeking to collaborate with Zetas in setting up transit routes that will be used to smuggle Afghan heroin into the country.
As a result of the 2011 plot, the Obama administration placed Quds Force commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani, on the list of designated terrorists.
The Iran nuclear agreement reached in Vienna earlier this included Soleimani on a list of Iranians who would have sanctions against them lifted in the future.
Washington has decided to request the extradition of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, who is now in a maximum-security prison outside Mexico City. Mexico’s Attorney General José Murillo Karam said he expects the U.S. government will ask for Guzmán’s extradition in the “next hours.
” During a press conference in Mexico City on Tuesday, Murillo Karam said there will be “no problem to process the request to decide, at the right time, what would be most appropriate.”
The “right time,” according to Mexican sources, would be after Guzmán is fully prosecuted and sentenced in Mexico, where he faces eight active criminal cases.
Guzmán, who topped the list of most wanted drug criminals in the world and was captured last year, would not need to finish serving his sentence in Mexico in order to be sent to the U.S., according to Mexican diplomatic sources. Therefore, if the prosecutions proceed as expected, he could be extradited as soon as this year.
Murillo Karam’s remarks represent a sharp policy about-face. In 2014 he said that Mexico had “no intention” of extraditing Guzmán because the Mexican government disagreed with U.S. prosecutors “reaching deals with criminals” as the U.S. has with several top Mexican drug lords in U.S. custody.
The formal diplomatic extradition request is expected to be submitted by the U.S. State Department to Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as soon as this week. The State Department declined to comment as per its policy of not commenting on extraditions.
Once in the U.S., where he faces multiple criminal charges from coast to coast, El Chapo could be hopping from one federal district court to another to face trials.
Guzmán has been indicted in at least seven U.S. federal district courts in New York, Illinois, Florida, Texas and California on charges of drug trafficking, racketeering, money laundering, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit homicide and homicide.
It is unclear which or how many districts asked the Department of Justice to solicit the Department of State to request Guzmán’s extradition, the formal bureaucratic process that precedes any extradition request. New York prosecutors said last year they planned to submit an extradition request to the Justice Department.
After 13 years of running away from the law, Guzmán was arrested in February 2014 in his home state of Sinaloa. U.S. law enforcement agencies played a key role in finding the then powerful drug lord.