Chapo Guzman's taco order led police to his door
Police knew that Chapo was hiding in the Mexican house when his henchmen went out for tacos, it has been reported, as Sean Penn's report on the fugitive is savaged by a respected author
Published 19/01/2016 | 22:43
The world's most wanted drug lord gave away the secret of his hiding place by sending his men out to buy tacos, it has been claimed.
Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, the 58-year-old head of the Sinaloa Cartel, had been on the run from police for almost six months since tunnelling out of the Altiplano prison.
Police were closing in on him – helped, they say, by his contact with Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, who brokered an interview between Guzman and actor Sean Penn. The resulting highly-controversial article has been strongly criticised.
On Monday a respected author of books on the drugs wars, Don Winslow, described it as "a brutally simplistic and unfortunately sympathetic portrait of a mass murderer".
And in Mexico, after the Penn interview, the authorities continued their hunt. They knew that he was looking for an urban area in which to hide and were familiar with the house in the town of Los Mochis, which men had been renovating for weeks.
The final bit of evidence was a food order, Mexican officials told The New York Times.
"Just two blocks away, a big order of tacos was picked up after midnight on Jan 8 by a man driving a white van, like the one believed to be driven by Guzman’s associates, witnesses said.
"Hours later, at 4.30am, the marines stormed the compound."
The building was raided by 17 marines, supported by 50 soldiers who were tasked with making sure Guzman did not flee.
The Sinaloa-born trafficker slipped away – again – through a tunnel, having created a second decoy tunnel to fool his pursuers.
But he was captured at a roadblock, held in a motel, and then taken away by helicopter to the same prison from where he escaped.
Guzman is now behind bars, being moved from cell to cell and watched by both humans and video cameras to prevent a fourth escape. He is currently fighting extradition to the United States, where at least seven federal prosecutors are vying to put him on trial for trafficking.
And the controversy over the Penn interview continues.
Del Castillo has been subpoenaed to explain her contact with the cartel. Mr Winslow, a respected author who has been writing about the cartels for 20 years, described Penn's efforts as "horribly misguided".
Penn said he was disappointed that the Rolling Stone article failed to spark a discussion about the drugs wars.
But Mr Winslow delivered a strong riposte to the actor, cataloguing the questions he should have asked of one of the driving forces behind a conflict that has cost 60,000 lives since 2006.
"Penn’s story was not a failure because people failed to understand it, as he claimed on 60 Minutes," he said.
"It is a failure because he failed to understand who he was interviewing, the crimes his subject committed and the responsibility he had to ask real questions.
"An entry-level journalist would have pushed Guzman on the many millions of dollars in bribes he has paid to co-opt police, judges and politicians, about his treaty with the sadistic and hideously violent Zetas when it was convenient to him.
"I would like to have heard about the people on his payroll who dissolved their victims’ bodies in acid, about the decapitations and mutilations, about the blood soaked bodies displayed in public places as intimidation and propaganda.
"Any thoughts about that, Mr Guzman? Any feelings?"