Drug Lord: The Legend of Shorty

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GUILLERMO GALDOS: [voice-over] The story goes that many years ago, 20 men were sent to build a tunnel.

SINGER: [subtitles] From Agua Prieta in Sonora in the north of Mexico—

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Here is where a legend was made.

SINGER: [subtitles] —underneath the border to Arizona, to the gringos. They enjoy the product we send on our little carts. Far from the light of day, these tunnels are very real. They named it Cocaine Alley, this particular tunnel, designed by the finest architects.

The man who commissioned it was a certain “Shorty” Guzman. What a pity for the workers he never got around to paying them. What a pity for the workers he never got around to paying them.

ANTHONY PLACIDO, Head of Intelligence, DEA: Chapo Guzman, in my opinion, is the most dangerous criminal in the world, second to none.

SINGER: [subtitles] What a pity for the workers he never got around to paying them. What a pity for the workers he never got around to paying them.

ANTHONY PLACIDO: Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias Chapo Guzman, is attempting to avoid the most significant and persistent pursuit ever.

ANABEL HERNANDEZ, Journalist: [subtitles] Chapo Guzman has built up so much power. Where his drugs go, his power goes, too.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Joaquin Guzman, known as El Chapo, or Shorty, had been on the run from the Mexican and U.S. governments for over 13 years. Yet during this time, he had built up the biggest drugs empire in history.

Along with British filmmaker Angus Macqueen, I have been filming the drugs trade for years, and we have come to distrust everything we are told about the war on drugs.

We believe the authorities knew exactly where El Chapo was and could get him any time they wanted. So in autumn 2012, we set out to prove this by seeing if two filmmakers could find the world’s most wanted drug trafficker.

We began in Chicago, the headquarters of El Chapo Sinaloa cartel in the U.S. The authorities have named him Public Enemy Number One—

AL BILEK, Chicago Crime Commission: This is a man that most Americans have never heard of.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: —the same title they gave to Al Capone over 80 years ago.

AL BILEK: But we’re using this title, which we first gave to Al Capone in 1930. And this is the second time we’ve ever felt necessary to use it. In Chicago alone, over 90 percent of the marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs that are being sold on the streets while we’re standing here have come from the Sinaloa cartel.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: El Chapo ran the cartel like a terrorist group. He had a whole range of distributors in Chicago operating as independent cells.

So using old contacts, we found a family that have been bringing drugs from Mexico for decades. And just like in the movies, our man turned up in a private jet.

DISTRIBUTOR: When you have a chance, turn right, coming up.

It’s all about family. You know, we’re still cowboys, take care of our own. And basically, we all work for the same guy. [laughs] Most of us do.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: How has he managed to build up so much power?

DISTRIBUTOR: Ask him that. [laughs] I don’t know. Because he’s smart, a smart little [expletive]. I’m just a logistics, man. Logistics— I think it through and find a way.

And it comes— the price comes from down there. We don’t set the price here, it comes from down there, depending on the— well, how much they want and what bulk. It could be in the hundreds, it could be in the tons, you know, depending. The price changes. But it’s set from down there.

That’s it. It’s just like working for a company, an organization, a corporation. Just the same thing, you know? You’re subcontracted to perform a job, and that’s it, no questions asked. It’s just like that. Takes a look in the eye and a handshake.

[subtitles] You never know who you work for.

[in English] You never know who you work for. Maybe he doesn’t even exist. He’s just a myth. Can’t find him, right? The best police in the world can’t find him. Well, there you go.

MICHAEL WALDROP, Special Operations, Drug Enforcement Administration: Go through this.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: Don’t worry. Take your time.

SINGER: [subtitles] People looking for him get lost. There’s no sign of him, dead or alive. He spends his millions to stay lost. If you claim the reward, expect a nasty surprise. He inspires fear and loyalty. He’s been in business all his life. He’s the coke up your nose and the smack in your veins. Friend of the people, scourge of the law, both friend and foe. No one can deny, whatever they say, he’s pure legend, this El Chapo Guzman. The junkies of the world fall at his feet.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: I think that’s sorted it.

MICHAEL WALDROP: We’ve hit a lot of—

ANGUS MACQUEEN: You’ve hit most of the marks.

MICHAEL WALDROP: I could hit this one. Oh, yeah, there.

Getting into the Sinaloa cartel, I never knew what I was going to get into, the expanse and the tentacles. It’s just a massive octopus, just floating around the world to large hub areas— Chicago, and then, you know, up in to Canada, near Montreal, and then transiting, you know, via cargo containers to Hong Kong, into the Australia market.

The Australian market, you know, up to $200,000 a kilogram of cocaine, which is, you know— at a kilo, that might cost $18,000 in LA, but it makes it to Australia, look at the profit margin. It’s just unbelievable.

The power structure is constantly changing, but what doesn’t change is Chapo Guzman at the helm of this corporate empire. You know, somebody sitting in Lebanon may not necessarily know the person that’s in Belize that’s talking to the person in Sinaloa, but they are all complicit in the same conspiracy.

And this is a major arrest down in Mexico City, where there was $200 million-plus seized. But that was the wakeup call.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: Two hundred million dollars?

MICHAEL WALDROP: Yes, a massive stack inside one condominium in Mexico City, just in the walls, in the closets, the— just unbelievable, staggering amount of U.S. currency all from the sale of chemicals for the production of methamphetamine.

It’s a corporate operation, It’s no different than a Home Depot or a Walmart, with a CEO and directors and financial staff. But these are corporate infrastructures making millions on behalf of Chapo Guzman. I mean, you don’t end up in Forbes magazine by not being a— you know, a smart entrepreneur.

SINGER: Look at dollar, watch it roll, roll, roll straight down the freeway down to old Mexico. Cocaine shipments running to and fro. The police are weary because they’re losing control. Red, white and green sell to red, white and blue, as many colors that he wants them too.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: We decided to follow the money back to Mexico and El Chapo. So we set off for the border to find the only man we knew had actually met him.

SINGER: These are Chapo’s towns, these are Chapo’s towns, this is Chapo’s towns. Where is he now?

MAN ON THE PHONE: [subtitles] Is it safe to talk?

EL FLACO: [subtitles] Yeah, go on.

MAN ON THE PHONE: [subtitles] I’ll pick up our driver at 5:00 PM.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: We first met El Flaco four years ago. He’s still breaking the cardinal rule of smuggling— don’t use your own product. For 20 years, he’s been shipping kilos of drugs into the U.S. under the protection of the man they call El Senor.

EL FLACO: [subtitles] El Senor sets the price in Sinaloa. Some guys try to sell for less. They say, “El Senor can [expletive] off. It’s my merchandise.”

What happens to them? They’re given warnings. This first is, “Take it easy. Sell at El Senor’s price.” The second time, they seize your goods. And finally, “Down [expletive]

GUILLERMO GALDOS: El Flaco operates out of these violent back streets, less than a mile from the border with California. I have witnessed some of the thousands of killings here, victims of the battle to control the most lucrative smuggling routes in the world. A U.S. agent once told us that he’s waiting for Tijuana to cave in from all the tunnels El Chapo has running underneath.

El Flaco has come to trust us. He agreed to let his friends in the cartel know that we were looking for El Chapo. We ended up locked in a garage with the car and lots of methamphetamine.

EL FLACO: [subtitles] One pound, a pound of meth. It’s pure. There’s one more process to turn it into “ice.” We seal it to stop the smell, another bag for more security. Worth about $5,500. One pound. [expletive] hell, $5,500. Think how many people this feeds. Let the junkies have it.

Seven three-pounders already in. Just this one. Ready. A lead plate, lead plate for the X-rays. Now they’ve got gamma rays, too.

This car’s been lucky. Had it for six years, done lots of crossings. Around 300 kilos, 300 kgs per year make it to the other side.

SINGER: [subtitles] There are plenty of ways to carry what you want across the border. Submarines go under water. Planes will carry it through the air. The best technique of all are not the catapults to Texas or the freight trains to Chicago but the tunnels everywhere.

You can smuggle it along the road, jalapenos tins to move it. You can smuggle it through the air, 747s, 30 tons. You can smuggle it through the sea. We’ve got submarines to prove it. But the tunnels underground, that’s the genius Guzman.

MAN IN TUNNEL: As you can see, the tunnel has lighting. And it does have good airflow, indicating that there’s some type of ventilation system forcing air in from Mexico.

DRIVER: [subtitles] We have someone at every crossing.

EL FLACO: [subtitles] Money corrupts. With money, you can [expletive] anyone. Jesus Christ was the only [expletive] who couldn’t be bought. And they crucified him.

DRIVER: [subtitles] The government protects him. He has so much money. There’s a $5 million reward, so he offers $10 or $15 million not to get caught.

EL FLACO: [subtitles] He’s omniscient, like God, all-seeing. He knows everything.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: In Mexico, El Chapo’s name provokes fear and admiration. Few who have met him dare to speak even about his past. But the first man to have him in handcuffs was relaxed enough to invite us home.

Gen. JORGE OLEA, Federal Police: [subtitles] El Chapo burst on the scene. If it wasn’t for the murder of the cardinal, he’d have been just another thug.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Cardinal Posadas was murdered at Guadalajara Airport in 1993. It is rumored he had information on the government’s involvement with the drug cartels. El Chapo was at the airport that day, but always denied having anything to do with the murder.

Gen. JORGE OLEA: [subtitles] He was barely known before that. The man ran after the killing. He was just another criminal.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: El Chapo was paraded for the press. This was the only known footage of him.

Gen. JORGE OLEA: [subtitles] He showed no emotion. The man was unreadable, no hint of emotion.

QUESTIONER: Why did you run?

EL CHAPO: I wasn’t on the run.

QUESTIONER: Why did you leave Guadalajara for Chiapas?

EL CHAPO: Sorry?

QUESTIONER: Why were you in Chiapas?


QUESTIONER: Why Chiapas?

EL CHAPO: I was in Guatemala.

QUESTIONER: Did you go from Guadalajara to Chiapas?

EL CHAPO: Guatemala.

QUESTIONER: You were in Guadalajara? You were also in Guadalajara.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: While he was inside, many of his rivals were killed, leaving the road clear for him to rise to the top from behind bars.

Gen. JORGE OLEA: [subtitles] What is the force of this man’s personality? No one betrayed him while he was in prison. In fact, he built up his empire. Ten years later, he’s the most powerful figure in the history of the narcos.

JOSE ANTONIO ORTEGA: [subtitles] This is his statement. There, Joaquin Guzman Loera, his signature on every page, El Chapo Guzman.

For 14 years, I’ve represented the Church in the murder of Cardinal Jesus Posadas. In 2000, we went to interrogate him. The interrogation wasn’t held in the usual room. We were taken to a private office, a VIP service. The session was set for 10 in the morning but began at 11 that night.

El Chapo calmly explained, “I had my conjugal visit today. Then I needed a bath, a sauna, to wind down. After that, I took a short nap to receive you properly.”

I realized then the man in charge was El Chapo Guzman. He was the boss of the prison. I felt afraid. I was worried my questions would make El Chapo think I was his enemy.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [on camera] [subtitles] Are we mad to look for him?

JOSE ANTONIO ORTEGA: [subtitles] You’re walking into the wolf’s lair by going where they operate. They won’t know if you’re just curious or sent by the authorities, a spy working for another cartel to find out what they’re up to. Obviously, they could kill you.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [voice-over] Three journalists I have worked with are among the 60 that have been killed here in the past decade. Not surprisingly, Anabel Hernandez goes nowhere without a bodyguard.

ANABEL HERNANDEZ: [to security guard] I’m here for Secretary Lia Limon. Anabel Hernandez. Anabel Hernandez, journalist.

SECURITY GUARD: [subtitles] Which organization?

ANABEL HERNANDEZ: [subtitles] I’m freelance. A writer.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Anabel has directly accused the authorities of being involved with El Chapo’s rise to power, from prison officials to each of the last four presidents of Mexico.

ANABEL HERNANDEZ: [subtitles] The government response was a death sentence. They promised to assassinate me. I’ve learned to live with it for two years. One day, it will happen. I live with a death sentence over my head.

Mexico exists in a stew of corruption. That’s what produced El Chapo Guzman. He became so powerful in prison that one Christmas, he invited his whole family on “holiday” to the “resort” he’d created in the maximum-security prison of Puente Grande. His family spent a week there.

The government is so corrupt that in a maximum-security prison only for men — there are no facilities for women — they introduced three female prisoners, two guerrillas and a young woman called Zulema. Her big crime was robbing a security van.

Later, this girl, Zulema, gave a magazine interview. She painted a rose-tinted picture. She told how she met El Chapo Guzman, how he fell in love with her, sent her love letters, all so romantic, and how after a while, it was no longer just about sex. He let her sleep in his bed, like a happily married couple.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Zulema released the text of letters El Chapo had sent her in prison.

LETTER: [subtitles] “My love. I dreamed of you last night. It was so real that when I woke up, I felt beautiful inside. But I felt a little sad because it was just a dream.”

ANABEL HERNANDEZ: [subtitles] I understand why she blanked out the reality of life in Puente Grande. The truth about her life there was when El Chapo got bored with her, he passed her around to his friends.

The girl started to— she was traumatized. The assistant warden said she lost her mind. Sometimes she’d come out from her cell, pull down her panties, open her legs at her cell door, exposing herself completely to anyone passing. She’d become El Chapo’s garbage dump.

Medical records and a human rights report show she was forced to have abortions, with only a nurse to assist, in that prison on two occasions. Once she nearly bled to death. Such is the romantic face of El Chapo Guzman.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: [unpacking camera] Give me the legs.

[at Zulema’s gravesite] Have you found it? What’s it say?

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [on camera] It says, “Nobody— nobody dies while kept alive in the heart of somebody. You will— you will always live in my heart.” Clearly, it’s been kept, you know, nicely. You need to pay for that. Who’s paying?

ANGUS MACQUEEN: So what exactly happened to her?

GUILLERMO GALDOS: She was found in the back of a car and her body had been tortured and—

ANGUS MACQUEEN: To punish El Chapo?


[voice-over] El Chapo’s rivals, the Zetas cartel, believed the story of the romance and kidnapped Zulema soon after she was released. Her body was discovered mutilated in the trunk of a car. She had been raped and was left with a “Z” for Zetas carved in her belly and buttocks.

[January 20th, 2001]

NEWSCASTER: [subtitles] Guzman left his cell in block 3 and went to the refuse area. A garbage truck was waiting for him.

OFFICIAL: [subtitles] This is the route we think El Chapo took from cell block 3.

ANABEL HERNANDEZ: [subtitles] The official version is that a cleaner was wandering around. El Chapo was to be extradited to the U.S. He says, “The poor man’s innocent. Let’s go.”

SINGER: Yeah, the 19th of January 2001. That was the year that El Chapo Guzman got away. No one paid attention in the penitentiary. No one saw the cart that carried dirty laundry. Open the gates to the hills of Sinaloa. Yes, the king has returned from a trip with the law.

ANABEL HERNANDEZ: [subtitles] This version has been repeated again and again and again. Everyone has ended up believing it. But I can assure you a government official, a minister of security, opened the door and said, “Senor, you may leave.”

SINGER: The last time they saw him was by a gas station, over the hills not far from his nation. The king of green gold and white rocks that glisten has returned from his stay in a five-star prison. A million or two— that’s the price of freedom because the show goes on just as long as you feed them.

Oh, the 19th of January 2001, that was the year that El Chapo Guzman got away. The 10 years before, he was down in Culiacan a city of legends that is stooped in tradition. There most dangerous of seas, he’s the biggest fish inside it. Anything Hacas need, Chapo’s there to provide it.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Culiacan is home to El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel, supplying drugs to every corner of the world. Here you never know who works for whom, let alone who killed who and why. One lesson we’ve learnt over the years— trust no one.

Like many journalists and dignitaries, we were taken on the official tour to show how seriously the government takes the search for El Chapo and the battle with his cartel.

ARMY OFFICER: [subtitles] This is a modified assault rifle for close combat. This against armor plating. We keep this vehicle on display because it’s armor-plated.

Here’s a space for guns, money or drugs. This button releases tear gas to protect those inside. Here’s a nozzle. Gas is released here.

ANTHONY PLACIDO, Head of Intelligence, DEA: The government of Mexico now is earnestly seeking his capture and incarceration. Chapo Guzman is on the run. He is attempting to avoid what has become the most significant and persistent pursuit ever. He is the subject of a manhunt that is without parallel in Mexico right now.

One of three fates awaits Chapo Guzman. Either he will be captured and brought to justice. He will die in his attempt to evade that. Or he will spend the rest of his days looking over his shoulder, attempting to avoid one of those two fates.

We will not stop. This is a relentless pursuit, and with a little luck, he will end up incarcerated and imprisoned for the rest of his life.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: The reality is, El Chapo and the Sinaloa cartel rule this town with a combination of money and fear. We have met governors who later have been accused of having lunch with El Chapo, politicians and policeman who turn out to work for him. He was known to go out for the occasional evening meal.

El Chapo lived in Culiacan before his arrest in 1993. Our driver needed serious persuasion to take us to his old house. The state seized the property, but it remains deserted because no one dares to buy it.

It took time to find someone who knew El Chapo well. Adolfo Salazar is one of a rare breed, a cartel boss who has made retirement and so was willing to talk openly.

ADOLFO SALAZAR: [subtitles] All my close friends are dead.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [subtitles] From natural causes?

ADOLFO SALAZAR: [subtitles] No. [laughs] No, hardly any died of natural causes. They were all killed. My sons— 24 years old, 31— no, 32.

Nothing frightens us anymore. People see death as commonplace. If your son is murdered, you take your other son to the killers to see if he can work for them. People have no emotions or feelings.

People call him Shorty, but he’s not actually that short. A friend was invited to a wedding in Nogales. It’s the only time I’ve eaten with him. That’s when he suggested I work with him. I was in charge of loading. I loaded the planes and took them across the mountains since I knew the Sierra so well.

Don’t think everybody gets to see him. In any given town, two or three work directly for him. The work is shared among those who want it. So the money trickles down. It’s the same in the cities.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Adolfo said he had no idea where El Chapo was now, but he was confident he could deliver our request to meet him.

While we waited, we wanted to visit the mausoleum El Chapo had built for his son, Edgar. But no one would take us there without permission. Edgar was reported murdered in a supermarket car park by a rival cartel in 2008.

When permission came, it was the first sign that El Chapo must know that we were looking for him.

[on camera] Now, if we didn’t have permission to go to this town, we wouldn’t be able to hang around the cemetery or anywhere near there. We would definitely be picked up by armed people.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: And they know we’re coming, do they?

GUILLERMO GALDOS: They said they did.

[voice-over] The guard made clear that we were the first outsiders to visit. And then we heard a completely different story of Edgar’s killing.

[on camera] Apparently, it was a mistake. The same people of El Chapo killed him by mistake in the mall in Culiacan. And think this mausoleum shows, a little bit, he must feel a bit guilty for it.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: So he killed his own son?


ANGUS MACQUEEN: We’ve just been thrown out of Chapo’s son’s tomb by some relatives of Griselda, the mother.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [voice-over] As we finished filming, we were told El Chapo’s ex-wife, Griselda, the boy’s mother, had not given her permission. Then a call came that she had sent armed men, as well as the police, to stop us.

We headed straight for the airport.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: Come on, tell me. What were we running away from?

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [on camera] I think we are not the only people that speak English here.


GUILLERMO GALDOS: And I would like to remind you that we’re still in Culiacan.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: And should we still be frightened?

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Absolutely yes.

[voice-over] Clearly, the death of Edgar remains an open wound between El Chapo and his ex-wife.

EL FLACO: [subtitles] He felt [expletive]. He was grief-stricken.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [voice-over] El Flaco was with El Chapo at the time of Edgar’s killing in 2008.

EL FLACO: [subtitles] El Chapo came by helicopter. He said, “This is for my son. I’ll channel my anger. This is what I’ll focus on.”

There it is, the cross for Edgar, where he was killed. It’s very painful for me. [expletive] hell, things went crazy.

It’s not about killing people secretly. No. It’s about beheading someone and then saying, “I did it.” Power. It’s about power.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Publicly, another cartel was blamed for the murder of Edgar. El Chapo turned Culiacan into a war zone. Rival cartels began leaving bodies with messages, claiming that El Chapo and the government were working together.

It took another trip to Culiacan and secret meetings with senior cartel bosses before we could take the next step towards El Chapo.

EL CHINO: [on the phone] Hi, love. Tell him to get the plane ready. We’re going for a ride.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: But we were warned it was too dangerous to travel by land into the mountains with a gringo. That is why we were introduced to El Chino and heard the song of his life.

EL CHINO: [singing] [subtitles] I pull to go up. I push to go down. I spend my time in the clouds. My roots are here. It’s where I live. I am the pilot and the sky is all mine. [laughs]

I fill up the tank, I check my Cessna and head for the border with my cargo. I dump the flight plan to escape the government. You must be clever. You need wings to catch me. I am the pilot they call El Chino.

[to police officer] They’re from the TV, dudes from London, England, and Lima, Peru. I’m taking them for a little flight. You want to be on TV? Thanks. See you, amigo. I’ll sort you out later.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [on camera] [subtitles] Why did they stop you?

EL CHINO: [subtitles] They’re searching. They’re looking after us, like I was telling you. Look, there’s a suspicious car.

[body on roadside] This is Culiacan, my friend. He deserved it. Nobody’s innocent. Here, you live and die by the sword.

[singing] If you want to catch me, you need wings. I am the pilot. El Chino’s my name.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [voice-over] None of the guns or threats of violence had scared us half as much as sitting at the foot of the runway with El Chino, no flight plan, and only a vague idea of where we were going.

ANABEL HERNANDEZ: [subtitles] To understand who El Chapo is, you need to travel to the “Golden Triangle.” You can’t just walk in. It’s controlled by the narcos.

Kids grow up into narcos. They don’t see it as illegal. If your father does it, and his father too, if the mayor, if the police— then it can’t be illegal. Fifty years ago, one of those kids was El Chapo Guzman.

EL CHINO: [subtitles] Guillermo, look there. That’s where we’re going to land.

Gentlemen, we’ve arrived.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: That night, we slept in the heart of the Golden Triangle. Angus was watched like a spy by heavily armed men who had only seen gringos on TV.

Our host was the local Sinaloa warlord, who owns the hills and valleys around.

WARLORD: [subtitles] Ask your questions. I’ll decide if I’m going to answer.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [on camera] [subtitles] El Senor is important to many people.

WARLORD: Si, si.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [subtitles] Why do you think he is admired?

WARLORD: [subtitles] He’s admired for his qualities as a leader. Of course, for us here, we depend on him. His home in La Tuna is nearby, one, two, maybe four hours away.

We just do our job. Here, we respect the big bosses. If we’re told something’s wrong, we sort it out. We don’t rebel. There’s no point in rebelling against El Senor here. Once or twice, people have— people didn’t obey El Senor. That was it for them.

Let me give you an example. If I take product to the border, move it with my own money, work with people who aren’t ours, I risk getting a warning. And after that, that’s you dead.

LOCAL WOMAN: [subtitles] He’s a good friend. He treats everyone the same. Kids, the elderly, everyone the same. He’s always been like that. To him, everybody’s the same. He treats everyone here as his own family.

But he forgets nothing. He never forgets people who cross him.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [voice-over] Lunch for El Chapo’s army, some of the most wanted men in Mexico, was beef, beer and cocaine. Our identities were checked on their high-speed Internet network. Both of us sense El Chapo really was close by.

[on camera] [subtitles] Why do they call him Chapo?

LOCAL MAN: [subtitles] His parents called him that when he was just a boy. He was called Shorty. Their ranch is over there, and ours is here. We heard them call him Shorty, so we did, too.

He’s been good to me. He’s a good man. He puts people on planes to Culiacan for treatment. He did that for one of my sons. He was in a car accident, and El Chapo flew him to Culiacan. He asked nothing in return.

LOCAL WOMAN: [subtitles] He never drank much. He loved dancing. He’s not a man who drinks. He danced with all the girls, never stuck with one. He’d go from one to another. He danced with everyone, then say his goodbyes and leave.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: They told us the military regularly sends in helicopters, and we worried about being caught in the crossfire. They reassured us that they got three hours warning before any raid.

POPPY GROWER: [subtitles] The soldiers here are cool, thank God. They sometimes check us out. They let us work. They don’t bother us after that. They get their little check so we can get on with it.

GUNMAN: [subtitles] The enemy comes here sometimes. They killed my brother. So we have guns for a reason. Sometimes, it’s like you do evil in order to cope. They kill my son or brother, so I go and kill someone.

LOCAL BOY: [subtitles] He’s everywhere.

2nd LOCAL BOY: [subtitles] In Mexico. He’s all over Mexico.

LOCAL BOY: [subtitles] They say they’re after him, but he has places to hide. He’s a cool [expletive]. He escaped from the top [expletive] prison. No one gets out of there. No one escapes, but he did, just like that, from where the [expletive] gringos had him.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: These men smuggle cocaine and meth all over the world. But the heroin and marijuana grown here still bring the cartel billions of dollars.

SINGER: [subtitles] This is how everything started, selling oranges and picking weed. I’m from a poor but good family, so tired of treading the seed. With nothing else on offer, you end up being dishonest. We did lots of wrong in the past. The only solution is drying the grass.

Doing business is all I know. I am the best in the game. I left school before third grade. I’m not stupid, very far from it. Tired of selling oranges in Badiraguato when I was a child. Before I knew it, I was 16, experienced in selling the green.

I’ve never had to leave Sinaloa. I live off the fruits of the land. In every country the whole world over, I’ve got a business that’s totally banned. Over 1,000 cities in the U.S. are buying my product, weed, powder or paste. Some say 150,000 work for me, more than the president or even a king. 50,000 have died in the war since 2006. And I guess there’ll be more.

The authorities eat from my hand. The government has its head in the sand. One thing they all understand. My orders are the laws of the land. As Pablo Escobar once said, “‘If you don’t take my silver, then you must take my lead.”

GUILLERMO GALDOS: It was strange, flying with the troops over La Sierra, looking for El Chapo and his men, when we now knew what was going on beneath. We wondered which of these men, or their officers, or the generals above them, was working for the cartel.

ANABEL HERNANDEZ: [subtitles] He’s still free. We’re sitting here talking, and he’s still free. He flies where he likes around Mexico. He goes to the cities, up the mountains. He takes holidays. The DEA knows where he is. Of course they know. He’s in Mexico. They can track him. The DEA can do what it likes.

ANTHONY PLACIDO, Head of Intelligence, DEA: I assure you that Chapo Guzman is not out flitting about in restaurants and living the high life. In fact, without getting into the details, we can tell you that he’s much closer to the Saddam Hussein model, living in a spider hole and moving from place to place because of the fear that he’s going to be captured. And that’s the way it needs to stay until we get him.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: How do you know he’s doing that?

ANTHONY PLACIDO: Not going to say. We know, but I can’t tell you how we know.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Just as we were preparing to make contact again, a phone was found during a military raid. On it was film of El Chapo interrogating a man, tied up, with his trousers around his ankles.


EL CHAPO: Where are the people from Zacatecas?

PRISONER: In Los Mochis and Los Limones.

EL CHAPO: You’re lying. You told me they’re in Mazatlan. Who are they?

PRISONER: Our people, the Emilianos, and the one you killed yesterday.

EL CHAPO: That [expletive] son of a bitch was a boss? Was he in charge in Mazatlan?

PRISONER: No, El Colombiano is the boss.

EL CHAPO: Where is El Colombiano?

PRISONER: In Los Mochis.

EL CHAPO: All those bastards are in Los Mochis? Right? So I have to kill that bitch to scare them?

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Here was the brutal reality of the man we were looking for. Yet every day, we worried that someone might get to him first.

CO-HOST: [CNN International, February 22, 2013] He is one of the most wanted criminals in the world, Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman, also known as “El Chapo.”

CO-HOST: Yeah, this guy’s been on the loose since escaping from a maximum security prison back in 2001, reportedly by hiding in a laundry cart. Now there are reports saying that Guzman may have been killed in a gunfight in a remote section of Guatemala.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Concerned, I rang our contact. He laughed and invited us to lunch, not in Culiacan but in the mountains, in La Tuna at the Guzman home. No one we knew has ever been here. Driving without the cartel’s permission is suicide. But with it, even the police just wave us through.

CONSUELO LOERA: ¿Ya se quieren ir?

MAN: Doña María: vamos a subir con Cristobal ya.

CONSUELO LOERA: Gracias a ustedes.

MAN: No, gracias a usted. Gracias por la comida muy deliciosa.

CONSUELO LOERA: Que Dios los bendiga mucho.

MAN: Igualmente.

CONSUELO LOERA: Y los cuide donde quiera que anden. Muchas gracias por su visita.

[subtitles] I call him Chapo. My son. Even as a little child, he had ambitions. I always believed it. I remember he had a lot of paper money, little notes of 50s and 5s. He’d count and recount them, then tie them up in little piles. He’d say, “Mama, save them for me.” It was just colored paper, but they looked real.

He piled them up carefully and tied them up. He said, “Mama, save them for me.” And I did. Ever since he was little, he always had hopes. He wanted something from life.

He’s blamed for everything. If someone’s caught, they say he’s involved. If something happens, the government blames him. He’s their target. They took offense. He escaped without warning them. That’s his offense.

He didn’t kill anybody to get out, didn’t force any door. He didn’t harm anyone, not those in authority, nobody. They’re upset because of that.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Only one person could have arranged for us to have lunch with Mrs. Guzman. Two hours later, we were being driven up the mountain, to a place they call heaven, on his direct instructions.

[on camera] [subtitles] Where are we?

GUZMAN SECURITY: [subtitles] On the terrace. El Senor has his breakfast here. The kitchen’s over there. You can see it’s very simple despite—

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [subtitles] Despite what?

GUZMAN SECURITY: [subtitles] He’s loaded.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: What happened?

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Nothing. Basically, they said that— basically, they said that he’s not going to speak with us right now. He said yes, but not now. And it feels funny because we can certainly feel that he’s around here. And they call him on a mobile phone, and yeah, so he must be around.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: But hasn’t he just been politely telling us to go away?

GUILLERMO GALDOS: No because the style of these people is if they say no, it’s “No, thank you very much.” They don’t play around like that. Certainly, it’s not in their interest that we come up here a lot. We can bring trouble with us. So you know, that’s what I believe.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: So he is somewhere between his birthplace and Culiacan, that’s what?

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Yeah, they say that he spends most of his time around here and Culiacan.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: That’s weird, isn’t it? It’s the most obvious place for him to be.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: Yeah, possibly the safest.

[voice-over] Over the following months, we were twice more invited up to La Tuna. Each time, El Chapo decided not to go on camera. For all the disappointment, we had found him exactly where we had expected him to be.

ANGUS MACQUEEN: Are we ready?

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [on camera] Yeah.

[voice-over] So why hadn’t the authorities, who were offering five million dollars for his capture?

Gen. JORGE OLEA, Federal Police: [subtitles] How come we caught him in 1993? If we could, why can’t they now? I don’t know why. I really don’t know. Maybe he’s more useful as a bargaining chip. His arrest will just be the start. Important people will get named, 20, 30, 40 business chiefs, bankers, working officials and retired ones. Everything will come out. The game will be up.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: [voice-over] El Chapo was just around the corner. It was surreal standing there, watching his security people openly phoning and texting, even sending photos. The U.S. and Mexican governments simply had to know where he was. But presumably, El Chapo was still more useful free as the world’s most wanted drug trafficker.

JOSE ANTONIO ORTEGA: [subtitles] El Chapo Guzman is the face of the Sinaloa cartel. He is presented to us as the boss, the leader. It is like a huge iceberg. Only a small part shows above the surface of the sea, and the rest is hidden so we cannot see it, so we don’t know the people who make the real decisions.

ANABEL HERNANDEZ: [subtitles] And meanwhile, all over the world, hundreds of thousands poison themselves with his drugs, his rubbish. And thousands of Mexicans are dying every day, innocent Mexicans, girls, women, youngsters, family men, the good, the decent, all dying.

SINGER: They call him a savior, savior of the land. Oh, where’s the behavior? He never rose his head. Then they told him to lay low, lay low away. Yeah, they told him to lay low, lay low away.

We are all in the game. We are all in the game. We are all in a game. We are all in a game.

Cartel de Sinaloa, Cartel de Tijuana, Cartel de Juarez, Familia Michoacana, Cartel del Golfo, Zetas, estamos unidos para luchar.

And he reached out for his gun, and then it all went wrong. So they fired in return, and the lads, they all went bada, bada, bada, bada—

TEACHER: [subtitles] [gunshots outside] Just keep your heads down, please. Shall we sing a song? What are we going to sing? I know one. [sings] Keep your heads down, children!

[5:43 AM, February 22nd, 2014, after 13 years and 30 days]

CONSUELO LOERA: [subtitles] I say to my son. “Forgive. You must forgive everything. God tells us if you don’t forgive, you won’t be forgiven. You must forgive.” God sees everything. He sees what’s just and unjust. He is the best judge we have.

GUILLERMO GALDOS: So they picked up El Chapo before we could convince him to speak. Why then, we will never know certain. But the story of El Chapo Guzman was not over.

[8:52 PM, July 11th, 2015, after 16 months in prison, El Chapo Guzman escaped again, through a tunnel.]

NEWSCASTER: El Chapo Guzman broke out of a maximum-security—

NEWSCASTER: —a manhunt is under way to recapture Joaquin—

NEWSCASTER: —powerful and deadly—

NEWSCASTER: The man known as El Chapo is back on the run.

China Undercover
April 7, 2020