Thursday, July 23, 2015

D.E.A. in Disguise: Who Really Arrested El Chapo Back in 2014?

In the wake of drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s sensational escape from Mexican prison on July 11, explosive new allegations have emerged about the circumstances of the February 2014 arrest in the resort town of Mazatlán that landed him behind bars. For more than a year, the official story of El Chapo’s arrest has placed elite Mexican marines at the head of the operation, with U.S. federal agencies playing a crucial intelligence support role. However, a new report citing U.S. government sources claims that account is false.

According to leading Mexican investigative newsmagazine Proceso, the agents who arrested Guzmán weren’t Mexican at all — they were Americans, members of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service, dressed as Mexican marines, working alongside one or more unidentified U.S. intelligence agencies.

Government officials from Mexico and the U.S. have yet to dispute the accuracy of the story, published in the magazine’s July 18 issue, eight days after the world’s most powerful drug trafficker escaped from Mexico’s top maximum security prison, though former officials from both sides of the border expressed their doubts to The Intercept. The magazine’s special features are behind a paywall online.

The Proceso article, by J. Jesús Esquivel, a veteran reporter who has written two books on the history of the DEA and CIA in Mexico, follows anonymous claims from U.S. officials to U.S. media outlets asserting that Guzman’s escape was foretold in warnings provided to authorities in Mexico. Mexican officials have denied these claims.

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