Good Bye El Chapo

Joaquin Guzman(“El Chapo”) headed the Sinoloa Cartel in Mexico until 2016, and was responsible for smuggling marijuana, cocaine, heroin, meth, and other drugs into the US through Mexico.   His trial consisted of 56 witnesses testifying against him and lasted 11 weeks.  It is now in the hands of the jury. I am hoping he’s found guilty on all counts and sentenced to life imprisonment.  He deserves to be locked up.   I wish they could lock up all his associates too.

El Chapo was a master of prison escapes.  He was arrested in Guatemala in 1993, and extradited to Colombia.  He escaped a maximum security prison in 2001. He was recaptured in 2014, and placed in a maximum security prison.  He managed to escape in 2015 through a mile long tunnel.  After he was arrested the third time, in 2016, his luck had run out.   He was extradited to the US to stand trial.

To arrest him, and build a solid case against hin, there was international cooperation with law enforcement agencies in many countries, but certain information could not be shared with Mexican officials, because corruption existed at high levels.  According to the NY Times:

The case required the cooperation of several American law enforcement agencies, but it also required keeping some Mexican authorities out of most discussions. Among the cooperators were the F.B.I., the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Coast Guard. Also involved were foreign law enforcement and military based in Ecuador, Colombia and the Dominican Republic, as well as local law enforcement in New York City, Chicago and Texas and federal prosecutors in New York, Chicago, El Paso, Miami, San Diego and Washington, D.C.

I suspect the heavy lifting was done by the Drug Enforcement Administration, whose agents  had the really dangerous job of working in Mexico, knowing that some local law enforcement officers might be working more to protect El Chapo instead of capturing  him.  What really did El Chapo in at the end was his paranoia,  as he had special encryption programs created for his cell phones.   The DEA located the IT expert responsible for the coding and could wiretap and decode his conversations.   The solution to one problem, really lead to a much bigger problem.

The Sinaloa Cartel  is still in the business of smuggling drugs into the US.   It operates in the same manner as a corporation, with a board of directors, and executives, with offices in cities worldwide including the US, Mexico, Colombia and Thailand.    According to Wikipedia,  “With the arrest of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, Ismael Zambada will most likely assume leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel.”

One take away from all this, is there was tremendous ingenuity and effort put into what I can only describe the most economical  “end to end” narcotics distribution.  According to the NYT:  “the Sinaloa Cartel globalized, stretching far beyond the Mexican-United States border to Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Belize, Honduras, Canada, Thailand and China.” The cocaine or heroin might come from Colombia or Thailand, and the objective of the cartels is getting large quantities into the US under their control.

Secret compartments in trucks were routinely used, and entered through legal ports of entry.   Other times, they were hidden inside of legitimate products, such as plastic fruit.    It was pretty incredible operation. According to the NYT drugs were transported by “Trains, helicopters and planes, semi-submersible and tanker ships, shoe boxes and chili cans. Although many more drugs crossed over than were seized, a few notable successes for authorities included a 16-ton seizure from a merchant vessel in Panama and a 6-ton seizure out of Ecuador. Although it never happened, the cartel also discussed trying to move 100 tons of cocaine on an oil tanker ship.”

If the 11 week trial proved anything beyond Joaquin Guzman’s crimes,  it proved that Donald Trump’s wall will have no direct effect on the influx of drugs in the US.   The cartels are looking to move large quantities, so large trucks or tractor-trailer semi’s which routinely pass through the legal ports of entry proved to be the most economical way to more drugs.    The illegal border crossings were not part of the Sinaloa Cartel operation, with the exception of some tunnels near San Diego.   The 5 billion dollars for 100 miles of wall, that has become so contentious,  will have no effect on the Sinaloa smuggling operation.

Finally,  the trial did not show that El Chapo and his cartel were involved in the current Fentanyl  epidemic.  I’m not saying that they are not involved because they have huge control over the distribution of drugs in the US.  Fentanyl is very addicting and resulting in over 70,000 overdoses.  It is made in labs in the US, but the constituents and pre-cursors come from China, courtesy of the US Postal Service.   If we are able to crack down on China, then the source chemical suppliers will likely shift to India.  It’s been reported that the Mexican drug cartels, namely the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) are involved, as they can cut their heroin with fentanyl.  The Jalisco Cartel is a very violent gang and at times, fight to enlarge their areas of distribution,  waging deadly battles with the Sinaloa Cartel.

The chance of a Fentanyl overdose can be reduced by taking naloxone, which apparently is widely available.  See Wikipedia link on Fentanyl.

I’m stopping here, as I’ve wandered a bit off the tracks.  I am very glad when El Chapo gets locked up for the rest of his life.  The DEA and FBI have done well.

Tomorrow, as part of the State of the Union Address Donald Trump will be telling us the drug problem can be solved by pouring concrete.   It can’t.   And going after the “bad actors” needs incredible international cooperation.

Stay tuned,



NYT: The El Chapo Trial

Wikipedia:  Fentanyl  (I learned a lot from this link)

Mexico cartels now fuel deadly Chicago opioid epidemic

Wikipedia: Joaquin Guzman (El Chapo)

Jalisco New Generation Cartel 


Crazy, Crazy, Crazy

Comey sent a letter to 8 chairmen of committees in both the Senate and House of Representatives on new information which could possibly affect the email investigation.

Newsweek filled in a lot of the details:

Newsweek story

As the Newsweek story explains,  the movement of emails to various accounts by Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin,  was done simply to make it easier to print them, as Clinton preferred paper copies.  She had been previously interviewed by the FBI.

It gets really messy, really quick.  Some  of the emails are on a laptop shared by Anthony Weiner, who was being investigated for sending sexual text messages to a 15 year old girl.    Adelin and Weiner have separated.   The FBI confiscated this laptop.

Now,  Newsweek states that Comey’s statement was not partisan, but a horribly mishandled one.   I agree with the first part and disagree with the latter.

Hillary’s mis-characterized the situation as she  stated that Comey had sent this letter to the republicans in the House and Senate.  Comey’s letter addressed the chairmen of 8 committees, all of whom are republicans.   It was also forwarded to 8 ranking members, all of whom are democrat. It was sent to these eight committees because they had sought information from the FBI in the past.

Director Comey had no good options, but he picked the best one from the choices he had.   He had testified to Congress that he would investigate any new evidence that emerged.  Congress of course wanted to be kept informed. The details of the investigation could not be included in Comey’s statement, because Anthony Weiner has not been charged with committing any crime.  It would be extremely premature.   Comey issued the statement because he had to.  He knew the possibility for leaks was real strong, and then any statement would look like he had been hiding something to help Hillary’s election.  If he had included any information in the email, this would have been immediate cause for eight committees to investigate.

I suspect that Comey will not release anything more, until a final concluding letter to Congress.    So,  Hillary’s campaign is likely to be under a cloud of suspicion.

Before Friday’s announcement,  Comey was touted by Republicans  as Hillary’s friend, who  ignored the facts of the case, and  swept the whole thing under the rug.   One day later,  he’s their hero.   Of, course, both are completely false,  and the reputation of the FBI as being apolitical, is intact.  Anyone who can earn such disdain from both Republicans and Democrats must be apolitical, in my opinion.   Comey is not concerned with the election but the integrity of the investigation. Good for him.

Will anything of significance come of this?   I think Newsweek got it right,  if  classified emails were where they never should be, on an aide’s laptop,  and could have been easily shared with her husband at the time,  still there was no intent to disclose confidential information.   So,  without intent, it is all political fodder.

Read the Newsweek article- it’s well done.

Stay tuned,





Making stuff up

CBN is not CBS and ACLJ is not ACLU.  CBN stands for the Christian Broadcast Network and ACLJ stands for the American Center for Law and Justice.

I  did a Google search for FBI Director  James Comey, and at the top of the page,  was the headline,  “ACLJ accuses FBI Director of Obstruction of Justice in Clinton Email Case.”   This was posted by the CBN organization.

I found the information I really wanted by typing in “James Comey”  Wikipedia.

The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) is a politically conservative, Christian-based social activism organization in the United States founded by Pat Robertson.   The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) is an American Christian-oriented religious television network and production company founded by televangelist Pat Robertson.

ACLJ is all about right wing politics.



And Pat Robinson is at the head of all this.  He  gets regular messages from God including the one that the world was going to end in 1982:  His latest message is as follows:

“God came to me in a dream last night and showed me the future,” said Robertson. “He took me to heaven and I saw Donald Trump seated at the right hand of our Lord.”

Of course, all the evangelicals were hoping  for Ted Cruz or Dr. Ben Carson,  but Trump is an adequate replacement  (obviously the bar has been lowered).

There’s going to be a lot of stuff posted on the Internet and from religious broadcast stations, particularly over the radio,   that are loaded with false accusations.   There is not one iota of evidence that the FBI did anything but a non-partisan and thorough investigation into the email scandal.

The bottom line is that Republicans are unhappy because the thorough investigation did not show any laws were broken.  If Comey had recommended criminal charges,  Republicans would have been ecstatic – even if this was unjustified by the evidence.  Hillary would be forced to end her campaign, and it would be a closer contest of Sanders v. Trump.

But Republicans couldn’t find a more unlikely target than Comey,  who served both Republican and Democrat  presidents,  a registered Republican for most of his life (he’s registered as an independent now) and was easily confirmed as Director of the FBI in 2013.

Stay tuned,