Recently, The Star, published an article about El Chapo, Joquin Guzman, the founder and face of Mexico’s feared drug-trafficking ring, the Sinaloa (Estey, 2012). As the Sinaloa became an infamous and successful drug smuggling operation (Forbes estimated that Guzman is responsible for 25% of illegal Mexico to US Drug transit), Guzman became an international icon as a drug smuggler. Currently, he is considered the number one on Forbes “World’s Most Wanted Man” list.
While Guzman spent eight years in jail, where he was kept comfortable and his operations were well taken care of, he ultimately mysteriously disappeared. Similarly, while the Mexican authorities have been looking for him for years, he mysteriously has not been found. Diego Osorno, who wrote a book on the Sinaloa Cartel, explains that the cartel is known for operating in bribes and political favors or threats before violence.
While the government, obviously, denies any sort of “collusion” and makes an effort to make grandiose statements about how they are searching for Guzman, the fact that they have not yet found him (or the reported 300 gunmen that he travels with at all times) seems suspicious. Furthermore, with the Mexican presidential elections coming up on July 1, he seems to be a more desirable catch. Regardless of how it would look, even if they caught him, he no longer is truly running the Sinaloa Cartel and even if he was, whenever one leader is taken down another comes up.
Osorno further speculates that the “unfortunate” close misses that the government officials have had when they raid a secluded mansion and he has “just” left are actually completely set up. He says that everything is bribery and favor based and the public reality is a complete façade. One thing that backs him up is that the US and Mexico put their funds together and put a $7 million reward for his capture, when he is known for bribery and is the tenth richest billionaire in Mexico.
One thing I found surprising is that Guzman’s cartel is known for their philanthropy work, described by Osorno: “They build schools…hospitals…roads. They try to help make people’s lives a little better in some of these small Mexican towns. They win the hearts and minds, and people look the other way” (Estey, 2012).
In a way, I really admire Guzman in some ways. While he originally did rise as a drug-cartel leader through a reputation of being “ruthless,” he ultimately created a culture in which violence was used only after other means (bribery, persuasion, threat, favors) were exhausted. Furthermore, once he became wealthy, he spread that wealth, to make others’ lives more comfortable and safe as well. While drug-cartels may not be the most ethical line of work imaginable, I feel that he is doing his work as ethically as he could be. Nearly every line of work has ethical repercussions to it: environmental pollutants of some kind, offending some people, not helping everyone, hurting some people, wars, taking away jobs, taking away resources of indigenous populations, etc. Is his mass benefit bigger or smaller than his mass harm? Is that really mine to judge? Obviously the US and Mexico decided he’s not that big of a threat anymore as well, regardless of what they say in their public statements.