Joaquín Guzmán Loera aka El Chapo (Shorty) is a Mexican drug lord who was so successful in drug trade that he has been ranked on Forbes magazine's list of the most powerful people in the world every year since 2009. He was the head of the Sinaloan drug cartel which imports more cocaine, meth, heroin and marijuana into the US than any other cartel in the world.
Not only do I try to steer clear of discussing the cartels for my safety but I tend to avoid drug-war coverage in the media for my own sanity. In 2010, at the height of the violence in Juárez, it was difficult to convince myself that I was safe when I was getting a running report of the day's homicides every evening on the news. So I stopped watching the news and just read selectively online. But the news of El Chapo's arrest could not be avoided. I first heard about it while scrolling my Twitter feed on Saturday morning. Twitter is my go-to news source on the weekends because NPR comes in all fuzzy on Gordo's old boom box and like I said, I'm not really a fan of televised news anymore. There is was, plain as day.
BREAKING: US official: Sinaloa drug chief 'Chapo' Guzman arrested by US, Mexican authorities in Mexico.
Hold your applause.
I am not happy with his arrest and I am not sorry to say so. The Mexican and American governments want to thrust their clasped hands in the air on the podium as the crowd cheers for their victory. Fuck that.
My initial reaction is to feel that it's only a matter of time before someone else takes his place, and this may mean little more than a new slew of bloody turf wars for Mexico to deal with. Border cities in particular. I do not doubt that there is a plan already put into place in the event of his capture, but take a minute to think about that.
Let's say you work for a company that has a plan set in place in the event that your boss is out ill. Let's say all of the daily duties have been assigned and everyone knows what they are supposed to do. Does everyone follow the plan? Probably not. One guy doesn't like the tasks he was assigned but never mentioned it before because he never thought he'd actually have to do them. Another guy really likes your boss but isn't a big fan of the person who's in charge today so he's just going to go work to the beat of his own drum. And then you've got the guy who thinks he's been under-appreciated this whole time and should have been given more responsibilities from the get-go so he's going to take matters into his own hands.
Are you following me here?
Someone else will put on Chapo's twisted business suit faster than we can count to 3 and there's going to be plenty of disagreements throughout the drug world in the process. And violence will escalate one again. It's a hard pill for me to swallow considering my querido Juaritos is just starting to put the pieces back together from the last war. Although I suppose that war never really did end.
I saw journalists and politicians on Twitter praising the DEA and Mexican officials for this arrest. They were calling it a "win" against the drug war. But if you ask me, this wasn't a win.
A win would be redistributing tax dollars and making improvements to the educational system in Mexico by providing free public prepa so that all children have the chance to get a quality education. A win would be the US ending prohibition and shutting off the demand for other countries to import narcotics illegally. A win would be setting up job placement programs for young men and women so that they have career opportunities and aren't compelled to join the cartel or immigrate to the US illegally out of financial desperation.
This arrest was many things, but it wasn't a win.