Sunday, November 6, 2011

Another "Lord of the Skies"?


It’s looking like “Lord of the Skies” time again. Back in 1997, when Mexico had one main mega-druglord towering above the rest, his fame grew and grew until finally it got ridiculous. And so, according to the cynics, the powers-that-be just had to take him down.

The “Lord of the Skies” in 1997 was Amado Carrillo, the Mexican super-trafficker. His nickname came from his innovative fleet of bale-stuffed 727′s. Technically, Carillo’s bizarre 1997 death was from anesthetic reaction after ambitious plastic surgery–but somebody seemed to be convinced it was murder: his doctors were abducted and tortured to death. Leading up to their fatal glitch, the hit song “Lord of the Skies” had been all over the airwaves; Carrillo’s extensive web of bribed officials and perhaps unseen investors were feeling the heat.

Today is a long way from 1997, with far worse cartel violence in Mexico, and, on the other hand, a far more extensive and reformed government “war” against organized crime. Post-millennial Mexico looks less like the bar fights of 1997 and a bit more like a throwback to the flames of Pancho Villa’s Revolution in 1910-1920.

But today, too, despite a swarm of different crime cartels on the battleground, a single high-profile CEO is attracting a growing storm of publicity, as “the most wanted man in the world” and “the world’s biggest drug lord.” He’s the fugitive billionaire tapped in absentia for the Forbes List. His strongholds in the outlaw mountains of Mexico’s deep flank have been hit again and again by army units, but roving retinues of 300-man protective squads and die-hard mountaineer lookouts have always put him a step ahead. (The cynics, recalling the Lord-of-the-Skies playbill and revolving-door kingpins going back to the mists of the 1970s, might say that the capture efforts whiffed of theatrics).


This presentday super-capo is Joaquin Guzman, “El Chapo” (Shorty), the head of the Sinaloa Cartel. His tendrils reach across Mexico, far into the United States, Europe and elsewhere and, notably, into turf that used to belong to rivals, forming what some people call the largest drug trafficking organization on earth.

The buzz on El Chapo’s legendary status–The New Robin Hood, The New Pablo Escobar, the New Al Capone–has reached the point where even sober reports looking beneath the legends sometimes fan the flames.

For example: the laundry cart story. One cornerstone of the Chapo myth is a very real event. In January 2001 he really did escape from Puente Grande prison, beginning his modern career and centerpiecing Mexico’s rampant conspiracy theories about his being, allegedly, the government’s favored capo. Many reports say that he got out of Puente Grande in a trundling laundry cart, like a cross between James Bond and Maxwell Smart. But many others say it was a laundry truck. Maybe it was both. But both are questioned by a best-selling book in Mexico, “The Narco Lords” (Los Señores del Narco), by journalist Anabel Hernandez. She charges that government collusion in the escape was so great that El Chapo was merely escorted out, wearing a Federal Police uniform. The labyrinth on such matters is too deep for easily taking sides on who’s right–or who’s possibly paranoid–but the point here is off to the side of all that: the myth has a gravitational pull of its own; the hero inevitably goes Hollywood.

Thus the second point: that mystifying photograph. In the flood of presentday news about the shadowy El Chapo, the same photo of him tends to get used again and again (the one on the left)–though it is badly out of date and other photos are available that show him more recently (like the one on the right). The favored photo, no matter how misleading, is certainly engaging. Dating from clear back in 1993, it captures the deep, smoldering paradox we want to find in an epic hero. The face is not an iron mask, not frozen in a wiseguy’s sneer. It is (how else to put it?) sensitive.

Orphaned as a child and then beaten and thrown out by a mountaineer uncle, with a third-grade education and a mind that spent his prison time playing chess, the Zorro of the Sinaloa-Durango mountains seems in the photo to be looking out at life in a kind of wounded wonder, asking why it would force him to do such things. The more recent photographs–like the ones offering the $5-million reward–show quite a different face, though still with almost a naivete (the freshly-starched purple dress shirt tucked into too-long jeans under a too-small trucker’s cap looks poignantly unassuming–like the tales that he drives an old pickup, modest as Atilla or Stalin). His prison profile noted a high level of deceptiveness; rivals use the word “treacherous” practically as his middle name (while ignoring their own tender mercies, which might make anybody a little dodgy). He grew up hard, with a small stature and an extraordinary mind. Maybe that’s what’s looking out of that impossible-to-discard 1993 photo.

At any rate, he, too (wherever he is–whether in a sierra bunker or Argentina or Orange County or Cannes) is pointedly aware of the Lord of the Skies Syndrome–that last act in the Mexican drug drama when the biggest player gets so successful and visible that mysterious things start to happen.

But if they do, we may not be able to see them–not really–as we watch the laundry cart trundling entertainingly across the stage.

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28 comments:

  1. Will someone please kill that piece of shit midget? I am so sick of hearing about him as if he is something special, he is the biggest piece of Mexican shit to ever walk the face of the earth!

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  2. He's just another fat sack of shit, drug dealing, child molesting, family murdering piece of mexican trash that is helping ruin mexico. Sad thing is he's far from the worst that mexico offers, and is hailed as a celebrity by many. Until it's your family that's raped and hacked up by his men. Mexico has really become the toilet of the world over the past decade. I think I would feel safer fighting in Afghanistan than living as a civilian in mexico.

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  3. Gary Moore did you just post it this story on Friday, November 4, 2011 Borderland Beat Reporter Gary Moore tittle "Lord of the Skies" Syndrome???

    http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2011/11/lord-of-skies-syndrome.html

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  4. The gratuitus laundry cart picture at the end was poignant. Great reporting too. Nice work, Gary.

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  5. There is no mystery what will happen to anyone in the narcotics trade. Extreme paranoia, short life and a violent death, if the are very lucky incarceration in a US federal prison for life.

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  6. All BS aside I really WOULD NOT want to be this guy he has targets hanging all over him and just like all the NARCO HEROS before him its just a matter of time. What I will never understand is how these people wind up being admired and respected they are killers thiefs liars cheats they live off the weaknesses of people, role model?

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  7. no it was first on forum a week ago by air chair intel

    http://borderland-beat.924382.n3.nabble.com/Lord-of-the-Skies-Syndrome-td3473151.html

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  8. Same article again....

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  9. wasn't this article first on insightcrime.org

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  10. U hater El Chapo runs Mexico

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  11. King for a time,
    than worm food for all time.

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  12. STRONGHOLD WHAT A JOKE IS MEXICO AND THE PRESIDENT ARMY YOUR TELLING ME THAT YOUR THE PRESIDENT OF MEXICO AND THE WORLD MOST WANTED MAN HAS A STRONG HOLD ON YOUR OWN COUNTRY

    FIRST THING YOU DO USE SNIPERS AND TAKE OUT THE die-hard mountaineer lookouts.

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  13. I am curious, why does it say in the photo that the Nunez brothers from San Dimas are rivals? They both work for El Chapo.

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  14. Of course, El Chapo is one of the bad blokes on the planet, but Josef Fritzl is the worst of all. He kept his daughter prisoner in cellar (no daylight) for 24 years, raped her and having fathered her 7 children.

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  15. 3:19 no they dont since months ago. They are in chihuahua they made an alliance with la linea and el m10 stole millions from el chapo when he didnt wanna pay him!

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  16. 3 19 I thought that earlier. El m10 and m11 help run dgo for cds. M10 was charge of durango mazatlan and is also known as el flaco. Los M's are strong and have done a lot of damage to cdj and zetas. M13 killed 8 soldiers en san dimas by himself before being killed in a gun battle.

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  17. They should start advertising an increase in the reward money, no questions asked etc. and maybe then someone in the inner circle will kill him, and the others will kill him. Then maybe they'll keep going.......

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  18. When El Chapo gets his punk ass killed, thousands of Chapo wanna be' are going to be singing his corrido for years!

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  19. I agree.. Just kill that fat little midget and get it over with. Pinche Pendejete he's nothing but a pesant and so are the pendejos that follow and admire him.

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  20. There's something very uncool about Mexican gangsters. They're wholy style is corny. They all look like a bunch of schmucks.

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  21. If possible do a story on some of the biggest capos who are in prison on which prison with sentencing etc...would be interesting to know an update on some of these.

    I don't are CDS will go out anytime soon. Too many big capos still left like mayo, El Azlu, M1 and El Flaco. All the others have taken big hits.

    Seeing CDG going through struggles means those areas will be war zones for awhile. I think those two try to stick to moving weight not robbing stealing and all the embarrassing shit these others do. That is not drug dealing, that is taking from the poor.

    Mexico consumes so much drugs themselves now and this why they in the shit they in. Alot of these smaller cells started flooding Mexico with street drugs because they could not compete with bigger cartels with sending to US. That's were I feel the bigger cartels fucked up allowing that cause now they've gotten cocky and are trying to gain areas were big time movers are from. This all Zetas have done since dropping from CDG.

    LH

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  22. M10 and M11?
    Are they still with el Chapo?? It's difficult to keep up with all of this.....

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  23. M10 AND M11 worked for Chapo, but were under the command of El Peinado, one of the Nunez brothers stole a load and since they are family both fell into bad standing with CDS. Peinado is supposibly M6, but not sure what is m number is. This is just rumor of course.

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  24. you serious MJ? Josef Fritzl is hardly the worst of all I mean he was a sick bastard but was not no mass murderer like Chapo.

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  25. Looks like the GN is brewing up some pozole up in Juarez. Ever since el Flaco's capture pozole has been on the menu for the linea. Is this the final housekeeping by GN.

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  26. 8:48
    Your right ever since el flaco was captured juarez seems more calm. You think gn left chihuahua now without there leader

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  27. The other way la GN are chopping up la Linea and Azteca tecatos. Sinaloa keeps cleaning up Juarez. el Pariente aint doing shit.

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  28. 3:40 Si no pudieron tumbar al m10 menos a la linea.

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