Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Friday, March 30, 2012

How The Mexican Police Bungled The Manhunt for El Chapo

This is an exclusive from Jamie Dettmer's Blog of Celleno
Earlier this month, Mexican officials leaked to AP an exclusive on the hunt for the world’s most powerful drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, the elusive head of the Sinaloa cartel.

They boasted that they had come close to capturing him in late February in Baja California at a resort in Los Cabos where a day earlier U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton held meetings with foreign ministers from the G20.

Jose Cuitláhuac Salinas Martinez, Mexico’s assistant attorney general in charge of organized crime investigations, said it was a near miss in the government’s efforts to arrest the man who has become one of the world’s top fugitives since he escaped from a Mexican prison in a laundry truck in 2001.

The official angled his comments to fuel speculation that authorities are near to capturing Guzmán, something President Felipe Calderón would dearly love to accomplish before he leaves office at the end of the year. “When asked if authorities are close, he just smiled,” according to the AP dispatch.

But AP was told only half the story by Jose Cuitláhuac Salinas Martinez. Mexican and US security sources tell me that the interview was an attempt to muddy the waters and to obscure the reasons why Mexican police failed to get El Chapo in Los Cabos.

They say it was a preemptive strike to head off any potential bad press from the near miss.

And since that March 12 AP story Mexican officials – notably the Secretary for Public Security, Genaro Luna Garcia – have continued to do their best to mislead by leaking, for example, a claim to Reforma newspaper and Univision that a prostitute’s period saved the drug boss from being arrested.

According to that story one of Guzmán’s men hired the prostitute for the billionaire drug lord. The Mexican daily Reforma said the prostitute was blindfolded and taken to a rented home in Los Cabos without being told who her client would be.

And Cuitláhuac Salinas Martinez, told the paper that when El Chapo arrived the hooker couldn’t “perform the services she was hired for because she was menstruating.” El Chapo left the house with the intention of returning, and it was while he was away Mexican authorities raided the house.

According to Univision, “Salinas Martinez suggested that had it not been for the postponed encounter, authorities might have finally arrested Guzmán.”

This isn’t what Mexican security sources tell me. The operation, they say, was bungled from the start and the fault rests with the federal police.

AP speculated in the original dispatch that El Chapo’s narrow escape raises the suspicion that he was tipped off. He was, U.S. and Mexican security sources told me, but not by some corrupt official or paid off cop. The federal police alerted El Chapo inadvertently, to the fury of the Americans, by making two major mistakes.

Mexican police chiefs bungled the opportunity handed them by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, who through cell phone monitoring by the National Security Agency provided the electronic intelligence that for the first time in years pinpointed El Chapo’s exact whereabouts — in this case Los Cabos.

“This was the first time that we knew exactly where Guzmán was,” says a senior Mexican security source. “All the other occasions when we have been close it was only after the fact that we realized we had come close to El Chapo,” he adds. “On those other occasions, we have raided a property but only knew in advance that there was a high-value Sinaloa cartel target but we didn’t know that it was El Chapo – we hoped it was, but weren’t sure. This time we knew it was him and this was our best chance in years to get him.”

El Chapo is as careful as Osama bin Laden was in using cell phones, knowing full well that the U.S. has tremendous capability to pinpoint targets through voice recognition and honing in on particular phone numbers. Like other cartels, the Sinaloa Federation uses pre-paid cell phones and cartel members change their phones several times a day to evade the American eavesdroppers.

On this occasion one of El Chapo’s lieutenants held on to a phone for too long and security sources tell me that Guzmán phoned him. As a result the NSA’s voice-recognition systems that had been eavesdropping on that mobile phone identified El Chapo’s voice and traced the phone the drug lord was using. “He called one of his lieutenants, whose phone was being monitored,” says a U.S. source. “That guy presumably was being lazy and keeping a cell phone for way too long.”

The NSA alerted DEA intelligence chiefs, who in turn informed the Mexicans. The sources say there was then an argument between the Mexican federal police and the Mexican military over who would take the lead in the security operation to seize El Chapo.

Secretary for Public Security, Genaro Luna Garcia, who will leave office with Calderón, insisted this was a federal police matter. “He saw this as his triumphant moment, too,” says a Mexican source. “He won the argument by appealing to Calderón ,” he adds.

The operation was placed in the hands of Mexico’s federal police chief, Maribel Cervantes Guerrero, the first woman to hold the position. She was only promoted to the job eleven days before the DEA alerted the Mexicans that they’d picked up Guzmán talking with a subordinate.

Last autumn, President Calderón disclosed, “the Mexican Army “probably a couple of times has been in the place where hours before Chapo was.” He added: “Sooner or later he will fall.”

And the moment seemed to have arrived in Los Cabos.

But from the start, U.S. and Mexican sources say, the planning was clumsy by Cervantes and that she was more focused on keeping the military subordinate and distant from the operation. She was supported in this by her boss, Luna Garcia, who saw the capture of El Chapo as the perfect end to his ministerial career and he didn’t intend to share any of the kudos with the military, say the sources.

“A number of things went wrong right from the being,” says a U.S. source. “First off, they were too obvious on the ground.”

But the biggest blunder came when the Mexican police inadvertently called both the subordinate’s phone and the one El Chapo was using to get a final confirmation of their exact whereabouts just hours before the raid was scheduled to unfold. “This was enough to tip off El Chapo that something was amiss,” says the U.S. source. “He fled shortly before the operation was launched.”

The botched operation ignited a firestorm of recriminations behind the scenes between the Americans and Mexicans with formal protests being lodged by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and his Obama Cabinet colleague, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Mexican and U.S. sources say.

“Those guys were shouting at each other,” says a Mexican source.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials stationed at the U.S. embassy in Mexico City met shortly after the failed operation with President Calderón to complain.

They expressed their frustration at the poor planning and questionable oversight that led to El Chapo’s flight before federal police could nab him at the mansion in the exclusive Punta Ballena district overlooking the Gulf of California.

The failure to nab El Chapo has undermined the trust that was being built up between U.S. and Mexican law-enforcement and has seriously undermined capturing Guzmán in the near future, say the sources. “This near miss is just going to make him even more cautious,” says a DEA source. “It turns out that recently he has been less in Durango and Sinaloa, where we assumed he was mainly hiding, and has been moving in a triangle between Tijuana, Baja California and Mexicali. Now he will change everything.”

Forbes magazine ranks Guzmán as one of the world’s richest men and estimates that he’s worth more than $1bn. He has a $7m bounty on his head but yet again El Chapo has managed to elude a manhunt every bit as high-tech and intense as the one mounted for Al Qaeda’s leader.

It is an escape that has seriously impacted on the what has developed into fairly good cooperation between Mexican federal law enforcement and the DEA over the years of Calderón’s administration.

With the Americans on the warpath over the bungling, Genaro Luna Garcia added oil to the fire by leaking – yet again to Reforma – a story about how the DEA had screwed up an operation and laundered some cash for El Chapo—a kind of money-laundering Fast and Furious, a gun-tracking operation launched by the Americans that has backfired badly.

The background on the recent hunt for El Chapo is in my detailed report for Agora published last month.


  1. Y wont they leave shorty work in peace an go after the Zetas and them dirty cartels; i think they should let Chapo do his thing an go after the other cartels killing, extorting ,kidnapping, innocent people...

    1. Bcuz the zetas are doing all the killing in Mexico they dont really give a shit about them.. They want chapo Bcuz he is killing all the white crack addicts with his drugs overhere.

  2. And the Mexicans complain and complain and complain and complain...

    The DEA/NSA hands them their beloved el chapo in a fucking basket and they do what they always do - stand around and bicker among themselves - then they make it worse by leaking bullshit stories. The whore was on the rag, right. The DEA launders money for sinaloa, well, not quite Mr. Garcia Luna stupid ass. Calderon will fire you and that PF lady when this report gets out.

    You are going to have to get over your US-envy. It fucks up everything you do - or try to do. You will never catch him now and I will be shocked if you ever get any good intel from any US agency again. The PF and the Army couldn't find their ass with both hands.

    Well done Buggs, very well done.

  3. I do not believe this story at all oh well that's just my opinion

    1. The story seems like on of the most believable stories that come out of mexico. The first one about the prostitute was clearly bs.

    2. Of course it's all a lie, Garcia Luna has been the biggest trafficer (by taking brives from drug dealers) in history. He has been in some kind of power related to drugs since 1985. You can imagine what he knows and what he has done. But mexicans are too corrupt, or some high level politicians are too involved with his operations, that he goes unpunished. The story is bull shit, that was a plain and simple blackberry message to chapos lieutenants that it basically had a short message: MOVE

  4. The spy vs spy information in news articles is funny horse shit whatever the subject.

    The inadvertent phone call story is a real loo loo.

    Ring, ring: Hello, this is the big boss speaking.

    Uh...oh shit...uh....Your combo pizza hold the tomatoes will be there in a couple days. Don't go anywhere. You don't like red wings, eh? To bad, we have a special going.

  5. why would anyone believe eric holder or janet napolitano?

    they are lying and covering up about 'fast and furious'. why should anyone think that in this instance they are telling the truth?

    the us government is lying all of the time. they are criminals. i refuse to believe us government filth.

    the current us government is not legit. it is not my government. it is comprised of criminal organizations. it is an insurgency.

    the only lawful us government is a constitutionally limited one with no rights except for a few privileges that 'we the people' allow it to have.

    the current u.s. government has no limits to it criminal activity.

    so back to my original question. why would anyone believe eric holder or janet napolitano in their condemnation of the mexican government?

  6. It is painfully old hat news that Mexican Law Enforcement is inept,so also are most of the US Federal law Enforcement agencys,arrigant overpaid inefficient and politically dominated,on balance give the Mexicans a 4 out of 10 ,the U S a 6.5 . So it goes, either one is virtually UNCHANGEABLE.

  7. anybody remember the keystone cops?

  8. Man,does this actually surprise anyone?Can you imagine some of the authority's involved"catch Chapo for the hated gringos"?No way Jose.Ring ring,"get yo ass outta there Chaps"Whatever.

  9. If the US assists with busting El Chapo, they save face about "Fast and Furious." If Calderon busts El Chapo too soon before the elections, PAN loses all it's ability to intimidate voters their way in a "for sure" losing effort. I always knew that Maribel (the pretty one with the bad nose job) was put in a position surrounded by a 100 % chauvinistic culture to be a scapegoat and to further assure women "do not belong in a mans job," as will soon be used slanderously by Luna the snake, Calderon nut hugger.

    Look for El Chapo to be around until October but he better run like the wind then because Calderon is a bigger double crossing snake than Chapo is (and that is huge). All the front line cartels are biding their time in survival mode until the elections and then yes, we are going to see a cartel go down but it will not be the Zetas.

    12:22 AM... Many people late on the scene about this topic buy the Mexican media and Mexican Government propaganda that El Chapo is the modern day Poncho Villa good guy. What is rarely said and not realized except by the old school people on the site is that Calderon and El Chapo are the source of more than 90 % of what is going on in Mexico. Before they (feds, military and CDS forces) invaded TJ, Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, and every other plaza they have set on fire, they were for the most part were peaceful plazas. But when all the federal law enforcement arms and the military systematically go after cartels from states that did not support PAN, and cause cartels to employ armies of not so bright men, a crime wave was created to support the war and losses the cartels had to recoup from lost drug sales. All the wealth from the drug business should not and will not be tolerated going to one state and one political party. What we are seeing is a last push scam to get as much money as possible before there is no more chances, and this happens every election year. The hit and run.

    Remember, the US Government, Mexican Government and the media need drugs and crime, want drugs and crime and thrive on drugs and crime, or their would not be drugs and crime.

  10. Wikileaks has a story called the spy files that tells about the 150 contract companies making software dedicated to mass surveillance. Check it out and the story wont sound so far fetched. Was el fatismo the lieutenant, he was killed about the same time.

  11. This somehow does not surprise me...


  13. First learn to spell homeboy, fuiel? If u admire being a snitch to da dea, a traitor to his compadres and da killing of innocent people then maybe the cds is for u!!! Eveybody wants to use the zeta scapecoat to cover up their killings or fuckups and da cds is no different!!! Da cds has been saying sinaloa is ours and look at the results, u cant control nothing not even ur state kid and u want to control other plazas!!! Go back to school kid and learn an education becuz this drug game is for losers and people that want to die!!!

  14. March 31, 2012 12:34 PM .
    Git the fuck outta here with the white shit you fuckin clown.Every motherfuckin color you like smoke on the crack,but yo sad ass gotta pull the white shit."Cause he killing whites with crack"
    Ye,you think the government gives a fuck who smokes crack,you fuckin crank.Think about it?
    What a fuckin doja you are.What about meth amphet?Do you think they give a fuck who smokes that?Put your brain in gear,ball-bag.

    1. What the fuck is doja ... I dont get it

  15. its Americas fault for the drug war… if people in the U.S.
    werent so addicted to drugs none of this would be happening

    1. Are u freaking an idiot!!! Itsn not americas fault for this piece of shit war in mexico!! The cartels also make a very nice living selling drugs to the mexican population!! So please inform urself correctly and then comment!!!

    2. American money is more valuable idiot .. how you figure .well atleast it used to have value ... Fkn recession

  16. eternalcode said...

    the current u.s. government has no limits to it criminal activity.

    so back to my original question. why would anyone believe eric holder or janet napolitano in their condemnation of the mexican government?

    I agree completely..holder and nappytoleano.both should be in jail..and in light of OHHBUMMAH'S latest "lapse in judgement"...exacerbating the racial situation in the USA..he needs impeached

    the story in forum about the guy who was refused entrance to attend his sons funeral is a fukn abomination..

    what the hell is wrong with us (Americans ) we embrace our enemys (Israel) abuse our friends (Mexico)..and are at each others throats...our "leaders" are panderers..on and on

  17. millions of drug addicted social services recipients in the inner citys ..millions..and reproducing fast

  18. MINI 50 .
    Senore,keep checking in with your posts,just to give us the heads up on what the fuck is goin on.
    Because most on here don't know shit half the time.You sound like the real deal?Who the fuck knows,but you are welcome on here,because you know more than most.

  19. Chapo if you read this buy yourself a voice alteration device for your phone calls.

    Chapo si lees esto comprate un aparto que altera tu voz para tus llamadas telefonicas.


  21. March 31, 2012 6:43 PM .
    Ey man,don't bother arguing with some of the cranks.Them same motherfuckers blame the US for just about everything,how fuckin sad is that."You take the drugs,blah,blah"Never mind that domestic drug taking in Mexico,is goin crazy,they gotta blame"the gringos"for something.That shit is straight up racism,but it is against whites,so that's ok.I learned on here,don't argue with them,its like arguing about the existence of god.They get hysterical,and won't listen to shit.Do they take any responsibility at all ?Mexicans killing Mexicans,but they blame someone else.Sheeeeiitt.

    1. E ke chingows te importa pendeja .

  22. Fuckin tellin ye,would you be out actively hunting Chapo Isidro,if you was the other side?He's been doin a lot of damage to CDS,man that dude must know he a dead man walking for sure.All he can do,is keep doin what he been doin,and wait.Sooner or later everyone gets caught slippin.It seems he is still an active sic,going out and murkin his enemies,i thought he may have moved on up a bit.But dude gets the job done.

  23. Look at all the fuckin sheep on here,scared of your precious little lives,"millions of drug addicted social services recipients in the inner citys"fuckin old fart,you,ll be dead soon anyway motherfucker.Why don't you go live in a gated community,with police on call,while all the inner city folks kill each other.As long as it doesn't interrupt your little life you don't have to worry.But sometimes mr sheep,it might creep up on you.I love it.Chaos in motion.Comin for you.

  24. Chapo if u hear dis....?wtf are u kiddin me, ur actually cheering for a scumbag like chapo,are u serious dis type of piece of shit and those like him have killed thousands of innocent people,and then we got idiots talking like their important cartel members,when in reality theyre at home behind a computer rooting for the local cartel where them or theyre family is from,if u really want to talk da talk then walk da walk go to where ur local cartel operates join up and get paid 300 a week to become a low level sicario and go out and kill some contras becuz they told u to and then one day u get ambushed by ur rivals and u get captured along with ur compas,taken back to an isolated house and are tortured to give up ur leaders and whereabouts ,dats when ur shitting ur pants realizing u risked ur life for a measely 300 now sittting in a corner ur about to watch ur compa sicario get hacked up with an axe while hes still alive and as u hear his screams and blood starts running everwhere u realize u couldve been back at home living a nice long quite life but no u had to be macho and join da cartel to prove the people from ur state are the cream,oh wait now its ur turn ur compa is hacked up to pieces u can barely speak ur in shock and as u see the axe go up and about to chop ur arm u realize dis was the worst decision u couldve made no more family gathering,no more women no more nothin just darkness wen u die!!! Dats right people dis war aint no fucking joke and to hear all u idiots cheering chapo,zetas or any other cartel makes me sic, wats so heroic about fighting for cartel bosses who live the lavish lifestyle while their workers risk everything and get killed!!

  25. Remember gringos...If you capture El Chapo, no more crystal meth for you.

  26. All these cartel bosses make all that money but spend their life hiding from the law and their enemies. Doesn't make sense to keep making money when the only people who get to enjoy the profits are the ones you have to bribe all the time.

  27. C'mon people!! Really you guys are drinking the kool-aid... El Chapo is the one whos set all this up...Hes the one who authorized this whole operation... Funny though ... Good Job Chapito

  28. April 1, 2012 12:55 AM
    "Remember gringos...If you capture El Chapo, no more crystal meth for you"
    Don't worry about it Pancho,we do everything better anyway.
    April 1, 2012 12:08 AM
    "What the fuck is doja ... I dont get it"
    A doja is what you are,go get me some buds,doja.
    Do you like mambos ?
    Fuckin crack me up baby.This is some funny shit.

  29. March 31, 2012 11:41 PM .
    He makes the most sense,people are cheer-leading for complete mutts.The whole lot of these cartels will kill anyone if it serves their purpose.There is no good cartel.Its the decent Mexican who works day in day out,being a man,that i feel about.But we all know these problems in Mexico go much deeper into mainstream society.
    So i,m shutting my mouth on that,before people start getting defensive,i can't be bothered going round in circles

  30. two points

    the kids over in the park are not smoking ciriguaya imported from the USA

    and the meth heds cooking down the road disagree

    P.S i am in Mexico right now..but mostly live in the the middle of the meth heartland

    1. I thought you were from Monterrey. ¿Qué dice tu suegro?

  31. What El Chapo doesn't have caller id with all his cash?,please the number that called his probably has some serious bank now.Mexico doesn't want him they know what would happen to their economy if they couldn't import us drugs, if the cartels biggest earner needs a head's up they r gonna give it to him

  32. As brito up there said.This meth shit,more and more people are starting to cook this shit.Why do people think some domestic products off the shelf started getting scarcer.This shit is gonna turn into a cottage industry,with fuckin idiots cookin it up.All you need is the ingredients,shit man,there's instructions all over the internet on how to make fuckin everything.NO INTERNET CENSORSHIP,by the way.This meth shit is like a plague,just say no to looking like an extra out of fuckin THRILLER,or a refugee from Phantasm,that shit aint cool.

  33. April 1, 2012 5:08 PM .
    People forget that Mexico needs every cash stream it can get,how much of this illicit cash stream finds its way into Mexico in the form of real estate,house construction,shopping malls,churches,automobiles,consumer items.You gotta wash that money somehow,"look i own a shop,that's where my money comes from"Whatever, money makes the world turn,like its a bitch.

    I hope A Zeta rat catches El Chaputo slipping
    And make those grusume videos With him.

  35. When will they quit messing with this cockroach and just kill him ? I think we should do it like we did in Columbia. Shoot them from the sky and let them think it is the rivals with car bombs.
    The reason he is so short is his mother mated with a cockroach and produced this vermin.

  36. Our secret service and special forces should just do it ourselves. Forget about Mexican sovereignty laws. Our guys are so well trained at this now for doing it so long and knocking almost all of Al Queda El Chapo would be dead few days. All Mexican officials are bought and paid for know one can prove me wrong. Except the Mayor of Juarez he might be the honest one out there.

  37. Secret service special ops?who do
    you think El chaputo works for not his own
    government but ours the American/druggies
    Think about it if there was no chaputo or
    Any drug lord there wouldn't be any
    Federal Jobs no Federal institutions/HOLOCAUST/JAIL. NO BOARDER PATROL


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