Friday, November 4, 2011

"Lord of the Skies" Syndrome

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 stories about the shadowy El Chapo, the same photo of him tends to be used again and again--though it is tremendously out of date and other photos are available that show him more recently. The favored photo (on the left), no matter how misleading, is certainly engaging. Dating from all the way 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.

30 comments:

  1. Seriously, how the fuck CANT they find this guy? I know that everyone in Mexico looks the same, but not every Mexican has billions of cash flowing his way every year! Plus, his little wife just popped out twins in LA the other day in California! Don't you think daddy will want to see his babies? It sounds like they don't want to find him. Maybe it will stop the pay offs. And imagine if Chapo had an hour TV interview! I'd bet he could throw half the Mexican government under the buss! I'd pay to see that!

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  2. They don't want to catch him. Chapo gives stability to the drug trade in some sense. Capture him, and there is a vacuum of power, and likely the Zetas will take over...and destroy Mexico.

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  3. Just wait and see. Hes going down. His time is very limited and he will burn in hell soon enough. He will never grow to be an old man. Just wait and see. His time will be over very , very soon.

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  4. Let's keep it real, Chapo is worth a lot they might catch him but not soon...he's the one man who's keeping the Zs from taking over and trust nobody wants that. For the own good of Mexico...at least he's makes a Good percentage of Mexicos income.

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  5. I know this is silly, but if his mustache gets any bigger, he'll look less like Super-Capo and more like Super Mario.

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  6. @739 shut the Hell up you racist idiot. It took almost 10 years for the entire USA govt to find and execute bin laden . That's the number 1 one alleged govt trying their hardest. Chapo is loved unlike bin laden was. Chapo built stores, roads, highways, churches, schools, and all sorts of other structures. Bin laden was raised rich unlike Chapo . He takes care of his people and is absolutely genius for being a billionaire after having his childhood. He runs his cartel better than most businesses here in the states. He doesn't go bankrupt unlike all the top corporations did here. Have some respect. Don't act like you or your friends , family never got high. By the way, prescription pills, tobacco, and alcohol are far worse than weed and in most cases cocaine.

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  7. Good article, and yes he too like Pablo Escobar, Amado Carrillo, and the Arellano- Felix brothers will be found and dealt with. And then another will take his place and so on. Meanwhile, the innocents, the collateral damage will continue to grow.. The winner will always be the one who isn't afraid to be the most brutal, as history goes. Mexico needs to wake up and ask for help...and realize its full potential.

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  8. I would pay to see Chapo and Lazca go toe to toe. Lazca would beat the shit out of Chapo's flabby ass... LOL... Chapo ain't shit without the govt help and Lazca has an army of dope fiend crash dummies to defend his lame ass. These are not men and the word pussy should be plastered all over their wanted posters. These cowards get too much credit for who they are. They hide behind other peoples nuts that risk their life to earn a dollar fighting for the "cartel". I doubt Chapo is out patroling his plazas with grenades and rifles, ready to die fighting. LOL... Muy chingon barking orders over the phone. WTF is that? Gangster? Chingon? Thats the definition of COWARD if you ask me...

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  9. @10:02

    you cant compare US hunt for Bin Laden to Mexico's hunt for Chapo

    how long do you think it would of took US to find Bin Laden if he was hiding inside the USA?

    ~~~el spaceio~~~

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  10. DOES ANY KNOW WHO THAT OLD MAN IS NEXT TO HIM ON THAT PIC IS, I ALWAYS WONDERED???

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  11. The old man on the pic with "el chapo" is don juanito. His right hand man. Who is now deceased.

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  12. You guys seem to forget that all these capos put their time in from the bottom all the way to the top. Chapo, Mayo, Lazcano and everyone else at the top have killed before...these guys were hired guns when they started into the business and now have the stature to call hits on their enemies. I just wish that all this ends and it goes back to the way it was back in the days but I doubt that will happen. If and when these guys go down Mexico will only get worse with the power struggle that's bound to come with it.

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  13. i dont either who that old guy in the pic next to him with a rifle is but i do know that he is short as fuk look at CHAPO he looks a lot taller and where talking about chapo LOL

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  14. @11 10
    What the Hell do you think a boss is? Does a NFL owner catch passes, make tackles, or sacks?
    Does a fortune 500 company CEO do the hard work? Hell no but they all built up to their stature. Do presidents go to war? Don't be ignorant ... Chapo started as a street soldier and climbed the ladder. His brain is more valuable than his current ability to take accurate shots at 700 m away. Do generals go to the front lines and engage in combat?

    @ 11 38

    Don't think osoma is as smart as Chapo. Don't think Any sand bagger is smarter than any Mexican. He didnt infiltrate all levels of govt like Chapo has . You may never believe it but a seal team 5 member was caught selling arms to his cartel, and Dea , atf, ICE, border patrol, army, marines members have all been known to be double agents under his command.

    Everyone you know has done drugs.. so hate on the user before you hate on the supplier . Without demand there is no supply.

    Arriba Queretaro y todos los mojados .

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  15. First and Foremost, Chapo Guzman is not Bin laden who was a Religious Fanatic versus a
    Crime Boss who not only knows how to insulate
    himself from the Authorities but also has befriended the masses in his home state by bringing thier standard of living into the 21st
    Century. So, obviously he's not a "Hated Terrorist" like Bin laden. This coupled with the Fact that he's keeping the Zeta's at Bay is definately a Plus for his status not only in Mexico but also in the states as well. We all know this could never go on without the USA's
    complicity. The main difference is pot and coke
    compared to I.E.D.'s and Blowing up Airliners
    full of innocents! The way America looks at this
    is Murderer's Killin Murderer's just like they look at the Gang Bangers here. Remember anybody
    that thinks that Americans are not makin BIG $$
    out of this is nieve plus the fact that the Govt. is getting to keep all that cash that they intercept heading south, for them it's a
    "Win Win" Situation!

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  16. Don't think osoma is as smart as Chapo. Don't think Any sand bagger is smarter than any Mexican. He didnt infiltrate all levels of govt like Chapo has . You may never believe it but a seal team 5 member was caught selling arms to his cartel, and Dea , atf, ICE, border patrol, army, marines members have all been known to be double agents under his command.

    Everyone you know has done drugs.. so hate on the user before you hate on the supplier . Without demand there is no supply.

    Arriba Queretaro y todos los mojados .


    TRUE! TRUE! TRUE! TRUE! TRUE! TRUE! TRUE! TRUE! TRUE! TRUE!TRUE!

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  17. @8:21 that's exactly what I was thinking the other day. The Sinaloa cartel has been taking some hits in the US cash wise. Maybe its Chapos way of paying his taxes LOL

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  18. Chapo traffics meth now - the most poisonous shit ever. Meth will bring him down. When the Mexicans begin to see and feel the effects of meth addiction on their people - they will turn on him and he will be captured.

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  19. How can you be consider the most powerful king pin? First EL CHAPO does not have control of his own state Sinaloa it has the second most homocides in MEXICO and he is being hunted by rival gangs(B.L.O. ZETAS MAZATLECOS) in his territory. Second EL CHAPO is not loyal to not even his own shadow one that betrades once will betrade again( MOCHOMO ARELLANO FELIX BROTHERS THE JUREZ CARTEL LA FAMILIA MICHOACANA)your next MAYO ZAMBADA on his list. Third EL CHAPO is just a brand that the people and goverment expose to the media that give him the fame and brand that people idolice..but at the end of the day they will find him in a shit hole with not one dollar in his pocket just like SADAM HUSSEIN, GADHAFI, BIN LANDEN, PABLO ESCOBART then we can ask FORBES where the fuck is the billions.

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  20. ...
    "Dog e Dog world". K now a person who purposely started someone on heroin to control them..do'nt john's also hoke their girls, and latest i heart that "guys are hooking their girlfriends" to control them. Yes many people are doing drugs, and to me it seems that DRUGS AND EVIL ARE CONNECTED.
    ....JUSTIFYING EVIL, WELL, WHAT else is NEW!!!. TALK TO A PINTO, AND THEY ALL SAY THEIR INNOOCENT..DID YOU KILL THAT GIRL?? yA, BUT SHE DESERVED IT!!! DID YOU ROBE that store or person?? Ya, because they deserved it!!!
    ...JUSTISFICATION!! IS A game that many people play in their minds to make something evil right..Alter all, we are all human-beings right and we need to convice ourselves that the evil we do is alright !!!
    ...MONEY AND POWER!!That's what these world is about...(You can't love money aka mamon AND GOD AT THE SAME TIME RIGHT. Eventually, youll only love one,and hate the other...
    @1241 AM..maybe chapo is your little god, but remember, he's going to the pit, just like you, so continue justifying your self, and maybe you'll convice YOURSELF that your doing HUMANITY SOME JUSTICE!!!!

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  21. The whole Mexican Drug Cartels story would make one hell of a movie if done right. It's a whole mini-series just with Chapo alone. The top Capo's are intelligent indeed. Even to pull off high level and sophisticated collusion.

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  22. Give credit where credit is due.

    Chapo is a very intelligent man as all the top Capo's are. Ruthless, yes. But also very intelligent, sophisticated and brilliant businessmen.

    Who else could run an illegal business that is ruthlessly pursued by authorities and rivals who don't have to follow any laws - and still have such success?

    Pretty much all the top Drug Lords of the world possess the same qualities to make them top dogs in their geographical areas and "Plaza's". Even the SE Asian, Middle East, and SW Asia drug lords. Every nation in the world has a "Drug Lord" and/or Crime Boss to varying degrees. All interconnected.

    Imagine what they could do if they applied themselves to legitimate business?

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  23. @9:43am
    Meth is not a new advent in mexico, it's been around for a very long time.

    @11:09am
    "betrades once will betrade again( MOCHOMO ARELLANO FELIX BROTHERS THE JUREZ CARTEL LA FAMILIA MICHOACANA)your next MAYO "

    Ok lets break this down for you.
    The beltranes choose to leave cartel de Sinaloa after Alfredo Beltran was arrested and Guzman/Zambada denied their request to assemble a 4-500 hit team to rescue Beltran from jail.

    The felix brothers killed a character who was called "el rayo" one of guzmans best pistoleros at the time. Then they killed guero palma's wife and mailed him her head in a box. All of this happened in the early 90's. This started the war between them.

    La familia started to try to take Jalisco and Colima from Coronels ex people, CDS responded by arming la nueva generacion and sending in hit squads from sinaloa and durango to exterminate both la familia and zetas.

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  24. ...@11:50, I guess to some degree, your right, it does take someone with some-skill to organize a billion dollar industry...
    ...That little guy (chapo) knows that almost everyone has a price to their morals, or scrupels, but there are a few who understand the severity of their consequences....
    ...Right now as we converse, the world is under alot of conflict, and the winners in the game, are the ones who hold the most cash and material wealth...After all, what rush can a person have knowing that they control and have power that most of us in our E-GOIC MINDS ONLY WISH TO HAVE, but, the reality for me is that i KNOW FOR A FACT THAT I WILL pay for my consequences,...
    ...As appealing as POWER is, and when the illusion is removed from THE mind, THE END GAME,is a LOSING GAME...
    ....iT'S LIKE THE SCI-fi movie that you think you have all the gold and won the battle, only, to realize in the end, you made it up in your mind, and you really did lose the battle..
    ...After all, God is not going to make it easy, in other words, words don't fly, but proving your self in the mist of pain, THATS WHERE IT's AT, THAT WHERE YOU PROVE TO YOURSELF -AND GOD- THAT YOU CAN CUT IT...

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  25. Chapo is already bigger than any other druglord before him...he is a general battling civil war againnst government and rivals...he will come out on top once HE appoints the next president..my guess is the PRI will hold it

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  26. El chapo worked with his way up don't not everyone makes it on to the top el Chapo was once a sicario now a boss.

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  27. You are all a bunch of morons. Stop trying to act like you know something. You don't know shit.

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  28. 9:43 you try to come off as knowledgeable and smart. So how did you totally miss the point?

    What is your idea of a long time? 5 years? 10 years? 30 years?

    What is the point of your condescending little history lesson?

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  29. Ye man,i couldn't give two fucks about any of them.But i gotta say,some weird motherfuckers on here,goin on about god and shit,we all gonna burn in hell,,,,,not.This life is about MONEY,fuckin face it,no such thing as the brotherhood of man shit.

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  30. oH Man this is like a forum to defend that short ass scum.. pathetic losers hahaha.. while that shortass has no idea who you are, yet you defend him... the media along with the government have been giving him a lot of publicity lately.. guess why? Chapo is being brought down soon, it's all politics.

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