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

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

You Know Things Are Fucked When ‘El Chapo’ Is a COVID Savior....

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat TY RB Source

CALI, Colombia—As the outbreak spreads, hospitals across Mexico are falling short of vital medical supplies. And with state and federal authorities unable to meet their demands, some health centers have turned to an unlikely savior: El Chapo

El Chapo 701 is a private company named after infamous drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and owned by his daughter Alejandrina Guzmán. (The 701 refers to Guzmán’s one-time ranking on Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people.) In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Chapo’s namesake enterprise has seized international headlines by doing things the government can’t or won’t do.

The Guzmán family’s outfit has already set up an aid hotline for senior citizens on social media. Masked workers take to the streets to hand out care packages emblazoned with the company’s website logo—a stylized El Chapo himself. He may be serving life without parole in the United States, but among the needy in Guadalajara his face is everywhere. And now, as requests flow in, the company has vowed to help supply hospitals in four major Mexican cities, including the nation’s capital.

The El Chapo franchise is not alone. Cartels and crime groups in many parts of Mexico—indeed, in many parts of Latin America—are taking it on themselves to answer the coronavirus call.

In Mexico that assistance always aims for maximum visibility: aid packages with unique and distinctive labels that identify the cartel or a specific capo, given out by sicarios (hitmen) who are being filmed for viral uploads to Facebook—which in turn garner additional attention from major press outlets.

March of 2020 was the most violent month on record for Mexico's Drug War, with 2,585 homicides. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has urged the cartels to "lay off" their turf wars instead of handing out aid packages, but such a response seems unlikely.

“They’re taking advantage of the situation to build their brand,” says Emanuel Gallardo, a Mexican journalist who specializes in covering the cartels. “The government should occupy that role but they're not doing shit. So organized crime moves in and takes up the slack.”


Drug lords handing out gifts in their communities is nothing new. Pablo Escobar famously built churches, soccer fields, and paved roads in Colombia. The Guzmán family is even planning to found a university in their home state of Sinaloa. But the current pandemic provides a unique window of opportunity for such groups to increase their power and achieve legitimacy.

The author of a new paper on “criminal insurgency” behavior during the COVID crisis, Robert Bunker of the U.S. Army War College, says the cartels are creating parallel institutions that rival traditional authorities’ monopoly on power.  

“The cartels in Mexico have been gradually eroding state solvency for some decades now,” he says. “They do this to  further their illicit economic activities [and] achieve de facto political control. The gains being made by the cartels during the COVID-19 crisis [are] accelerating this process.”

Journalist Gallardo agrees that the proliferating images of “killers giving away goodies” hide an ulterior motive.

“The narcos are not taking any kind of large-scale social responsibility. They're just using this to show the people who's ruling them,” Gallardo told The Daily Beast. “It’s the narco way to show power in Mexico. They control people in that way.”


Criminal gangs elsewhere in Latin America have adopted a more violent, intimidation-based approach to deal with the pandemic.

In Colombia, for example, guerrilla groups that traffic in cocaine and other narcotics have blanketed rural communities in much of the country with pamphlets threatening deadly consequences for residents who violate self-isolation rules.

One such edict put out by the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the northern Bolívar region states, “We are forced to kill people in order to preserve lives,” and accuses locals of not having “respected the orders to prevent COVID-19.”

The ELN agreed to a temporary ceasefire with the government at the beginning of the outbreak, but continues to prey on civilian populations. Part of what makes these lockdown-or-else threats so sinister is that guerrilla death squads are already taking advantage of the crisis to track down and kill quarantine-immobilized social leaders who oppose them.

In the port town of Tumaco, on the Pacific Coast, the Oliver Sinisterra Front—a renegade offshoot from the now-demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)—threatens to make “military targets” of anyone who fails to comply with the group’s draconian isolation measures.

“We are forced to kill people in order to preserve lives.”

— National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas, Colombia

“We’re like prisoners in our own homes because of these bandits,” says Julia Díaz, 55, who owns a hotel in the town of Toribio, another rogue-FARC stronghold in the southern Cauca region. “Everyone is afraid, everyone feels helpless. We can’t even go out to visit the doctor without worrying they’ll kill us.”

José Miguel Vivanco, the executive director for the Human Rights Watch (HRW) Americas Division, and the author of a recent report on COVID-related violence in Colombia, describes the country’s official response to the outbreak as “generally strong” in large cities.

In more rural districts, however the response has been marred by “structural failures” because “government presence is weak and dysfunctional, allowing armed groups to thrive and exercise control over the population,” he says. “In these areas, access to justice, security, and basic public services is often extremely limited, if not null.”

Part of what makes total quarantine so challenging for many low-income earners in Colombia is that they have no resources to fall back and must work for daily wages to survive, even under threat of death from drug-running guerrillas.

“The full lockdown may be hard to implement in areas with pervasive poverty where people need to leave their houses every day if they want to have any food on their plates,” Vivanco says.


Elsewhere in Latin America some criminal organizations have responded to the pandemic with a carrot, others with a stick. In Guatemala, for instance, Barrio 18 gang members are suspending their extortion rackets while the crisis lasts. Whereas MS13 in El Salvador is, like ELN and ex-FARC, issuing death threats to those who refuse to stay at home.

The most comprehensive response by any crime group in the hemisphere appears to be in the favelas of Brazil. There powerful drug traffickers like the Comando Vermelho (Red Command) impose strict social distancing backed by threats, while also distributing much-needed supplies.

In the poor neighborhoods around Rio de Janeiro, loudspeakers blare messages such as “Anyone found messing [around] or walking around outside will be punished,” even as other gang members go door-to door to pass out soap and encourage people to wash their hands.

In reacting to the virus, different crime groups tend to play to their strengths, says security analyst Bunker.

“A cartel in Mexico has far more wealth than a gang [in Brazil] but not the manpower to so tightly control its neighborhoods. In Colombia the ELN or ex-FARC groups might not have the manpower or wealth but they can utilize a terror-based approach.”

Some observers have speculated that the fallout from coronavirus could weaken the cartels. Proponents of this theory say that a lack of precursor chemicals and drugs from China, including fentanyl, combined with closed borders and less disposable income for users in the U.S., will drain the narcos' coffers. But others point to the flexibility exhibited by other crime groups, including the  Italian mafia, which appears to be thriving during the pandemic.

"The gangs and cartels throughout the Americas are not going to idly sit on the sidelines and watch their incomes go into free fall," Bunker says. Instead, he suggests these groups will use their existing networks to seek out other revenue streams such as "kidnapping and extortion, forced sexual slavery, or potentially even organ harvesting in order to provide new cash flow avenues."

HRW director Vivanco also says it's unclear how Colombian and Venezuelan guerrillas—who remain the world's leading cocaine suppliers—will be impacted. "Higher levels of poverty may make it easier for them to recruit, while variations in international prices of cocaine and gold will impact their economies. Similarly, the lockdown will make it harder for authorities to control deforestation, making it easier for armed groups [engaged in illegal logging and mining] to gain profit."

In any case,  Bunker says, the show of strength by various crime groups during the outbreak has exposed the weakness of national governments in many Latin American countries.
“What the pandemic does to the power dynamic between the state and organized crime—in both the short and long term—is not going to turn out well,” he says.       


In a broadcast video, Alejandrina Guzmán is seen distributing the pantries along with other women in the Guadalajara metropolitan area. The packages contained; contain toilet paper, cornstarch, puree, pasta soups, cookies, oil, bags with sugar, rice and beans.  The Guzman’s were the last of the major cartels to distribute “pantries”.  (Borderland Beat)


  1. Chivis and borderland beat staff. Check out the narco manta that the cdn left against jalisco cartel in zacatecas.This manta wins the award for best burns and insults in a manta so far this year.i saw it on valor por tamuilpas.

  2. The only true COVID savior is TRUMP!!
    Infection cases dropping faster than any other country, unprecedented FAST response from the US government. And who else could keep stock market setting records during a pandemic? #KAG2020

    1. Something does not ring true, causing propaganda in this site which is not related to topic.

    2. Not a single thing in this comment is even close to true ^^

      "dropping faster than any other country": they're rising faster than any other country, literally the opposite of what you said.

      "unprecedented FAST response": again, rising faster than any other country.

      "stock market setting records": the stock market isn't settings records, it's crashed.

    3. Well when u have more deaths in a day then other countries. That's a record. When stock market crashes harder then Paul walker into a tree that's a record.

    4. Highest deficit ever.

    5. The president didn't know anything about no corona virus 19, many cabinet members reported the bad prognosises many times since january 2020, but it is well known that only jared reads those reports sometimes and the president never, so, put your blames where they belong, on the DEMS that were too busy with their communist hoaxes and fake news persecuting and impeaching the president...
      In Colombia, it is more possible that the resuscitated mass murdering 12 apostoles of Santiago uribe velez are murdering again than /he disbanded FARC or ELN, because a now billionaire Alvaro uribe velez wants to eliminate any and all living witnesses of his murderous corruption.
      Wonder what the US Army War College has to say about the US involvement in the creation of drug Cartels and wars for profit all over the world...

  3. People giving Chapo’s family a hard time when they don’t extort people and only kill enemies or those that get in their way, also people say he got with underage girls when really those girls be hanging around them because they like it, they’re not forced

    1. They must be nice family. Amlo met the mother and lunch with brother. Forget crimes, and just Hug, everything will be ok.

    2. If you only knew.

    3. I hope that post was pure sarcasm...

    4. how about the guys under chapo who rapes lil girls Did you forget how Chapo got started in this drug war ?
      Please BB remind readers the beginings of Chapo and his family Please
      barrels of acid etc
      They think he never killed or hurt anyone Please straight the record straight
      I dont know much But most top leaders of gangs didnt get to the top with out blood on their hands and killed a few innocents in between
      3;02 Would think Hitler was not guilty because he him self didnt light the match on the ovens
      Amazing how some are so blind
      or are just cheerleading to get us to respond to ignorant statements Chapo innocent thats why he sits in prison for life

  4. Amazing the corrupt politicians for years have taken the bribes and led their country to ruin. While they live in wealth in the U.S. or Europe. While the poor Mexican just wants security and peace, and their last hope promised to stop corruption and Secure the country, he has failed them. What a shame. Mexico I am secure, have job, I feel ur pain, May God Help Us

  5. From the video, I am reminded of the Nazi Holcaust in which the Nazi's staged movies of well fed, well-off, happy Jews living in the Warsaw ghetto.

    The staged scene of filling out welfare boxes for the elderly was actually obscenely chilling....
    The smooth professional voice of the commentator only added to the obscenity.

    Like with the Nazi propaganda, the narco-cartels are going to discover that you cannot undo mountains of corpses with free boxes of toilet paper and small bags of rice and beans.

    No, the propaganda ploy of narco-cartels is just a grim reminder of how naive they think their compatriots are. God, education being what it is in Mexico, what if they are right?
    Mexico-Watcher i

    1. I think you are talking about the Treblinka concentration camp not the Warsaw ghetto.

    2. 3:27 the most murders in mexico have been innocents killed or disappeared by the mexican military to present work to the US in exchange for the military assistance the US provides them, there is also the cartels working for US drug trafficking banksters who get to keep the most of the money, safely offshored, laundered and tax sheltered

  6. After killing Lebarons now CDS wants to play the saviors? Like always.
    They are either weaknor stupid if they allow La Linea to enter their turf to kill so called innocents.

    1. La linea has been and are known for messing with the lebarons that’s a fact. Was it a mistake? Who knows. Did they do it yes.

  7. Guadalajara is own by sinaloa period over here we love them thank you

    1. Guadalajara, a city, owns the whole state of Sinaloa. You have it backwards.

  8. Animo Sicarios
    El Señor siempre ayuda al pueblo. EL Chapo sold oranges as a child to feed his family and he became a billionaire #701 .
    Mis respetos para el Patron. Gente Nueva Special Forces have been delivery aid packages to la raza!

    #701 #freeelchapo #elchapolivesmatter

    1. Should have Stayed selling oranges at least thats an honest living

      choices everyone has them

  9. el chapo will leave the U.S. in a coffin no matter how much supplies he hands out

  10. CHAPO brand is silly and corny as heck 😆 I'm sure that store will not last in Guadalajara.. Imagine a clueless guy who is not so street smart go decked out with chapo stuff onn to a cjng or a zeta party.. I would live to see that 😆

  11. @Sicario006 3:39 P.M.: I know lots of people who did worse and did NOT become butcher of humans...So what is your sicko point?

    1. 11:02 then you must have been present when El Chapo butchered thousands "wiff his bear hendz"

  12. You know things are bad When the President is taking photos with Chapo family at their cook out.
    Mexicans are stupid for voting this guy in. The whole country took 3 step back from rest of world.

    1. Would you believe the other 2 canadates were worse to elect.
      Lopez Obrador ran in 2 past elections which he lost too. Then now that he one this one, little effort is done to combat the high homicide rate.

  13. ok ok the whole world Sucks
    But there are still many good honest moral people who do not screw others
    just to make a dime

  14. I'm going to be painfully honest here - I honestly think the average Mexican gets more help from Cartels than from their own government. I know Cartels extort businesses and are violent but frankly the government also extorts businesses (it's called taxes) and they also threaten you with violence ,(sending the police to throw you in jail or kill you). I see very little difference between Cartels and the government in Mexico.. Cartels are a little more violent because they are the small player and the government is the big player. The government has already established itself as the main player in the game and so doesn't need to be violent... But if someone threatens their position as number 1 extortionist and corrupt thief of the people, I guarantee you the government would get stupid violent like any other cartel.


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