To government forces he was public enemy number one, a prison escapee who publicly embarrassed Mexican President, Enrique Pena Nieto. But to others, including those from his hometown of Badiraguato in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa, he was a Robin Hood.
Residents of the municipality which drug lord Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman called home reacted on Saturday (January 9) to his recapture by Mexican authorities on Friday (January 8). They expressed regret over the loss of a figure who helped fuel the local economy, providing a way of life when there was little alternative.
The Mexican government aims to extradite “Chapo” to the United States after security forces recaptured the fugitive cartel leader who blew his cover through a series of slip ups, including an attempt to make a movie about his life.
The Mexican Attorney General’s office will be working as fast as possible to establish the path to extradition, and Chapo could be sent to the United States by mid-year, a source familiar with the situation said on Saturday. However the timing might depend on injunctions filed by Guzman’s legal team.
Guzman, the world’s top drug smuggler and boss of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, is wanted by U.S. authorities on a host of criminal charges. His organization has smuggled billions of dollars worth of drugs into the United States and is blamed for thousands of deaths in Mexico and the United States due to addiction and gang warfare.
But in his hometown, he was seen as an ally.
“Unfortunately, he’s a person who has supported a lot of people, and so (his recapture) will bring a lot of consequences, because the people who received that help now won’t have it. It’s regrettable,” Badiraguato street vendor, Gilberto Cardenas, told Reuters.
Guzman’s dramatic capture in the town of Los Mochis on Friday followed a six month-long intelligence operation during which the drug lord relaxed his security just enough to allow authorities to pick up his trail.