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    Mexico drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman captured

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    Originally published on February 23, 2014


    Mexico's most wanted drug cartel kingpin was captured on Saturday (February 22) with help from U.S. agencies. Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was captured at his seaside condominium in Mazatlan, in an operation that took no longer than 7-½ minutes.

    The capture is a major victory for the Mexican government. El Chapo, which means "Shorty" in Spanish, has long run Mexico' Sinaloa Cartel, becoming one of the most powerful organized crime bosses and amassing a fortune that put him in Forbes' list of billionaires.

    Reuters reports "Guzman's cartel has smuggled billions of dollars worth of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines into the United States, and fought vicious turf wars with other Mexican gangs.

    "He pioneered the use of sophisticated underground tunnels to smuggle drug shipments across the border and also became a major narcotics exporter to Europe and Asia in recent years.

    "Nearly 80,000 people have been killed in the last seven years with much of the violence in western and northern regions that have long been key smuggling routes.

    "Many of the victims are tortured and beheaded and their bodies dumped in a public place or in mass graves. The violence has ravaged border cities and even beach resorts such as Acapulco.

    "Guzman, 56, was captured in a pre-dawn raid on a seaside condominium in the northwestern tourist resort and fishing and shrimp-processing center of Mazatlan, around 135 miles from Guzman's suspected base in Culiacan.

    "He was then flown to Mexico City. Wearing a cream shirt and dark jeans and with a black moustache, he was frog-marched in front of reporters on live TV, bound for prison.
    It was the first public glimpse of the elusive kingpin since he escaped from prison in 2001.

    "The 5-foot 6-inch (1.7-metre) Guzman looked briefly toward TV cameras waiting on the tarmac outside the Marines' hangar at Mexico City's airport. His head was shoved back down by a soldier wearing a face mask.

    "Murillo Karam said security forces had nearly caught Guzman days earlier, but he gave them the slip.

    "'The doors of the house ... were reinforced with steel and so in the minutes it took us to open them, it allowed for an escape through tunnels,' said Murillo Karam, Mexico's attorney general.

    "They then tracked him down again and waited for the right moment to strike, he said, adding that some U.S. agencies had helped in the capture.

    "He gave no more details but a U.S. Homeland Security source said Mexican forces worked jointly with agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Marshals Service.

    "Murillo Karam did not say whether Guzman would face trial in Mexico or be extradited to the United States."


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