By Julian Rodriguez Marin
MEXICO CITY – The United States offered to capture drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in a “simple, fast and surgical” operation that would take 15 minutes, but the Mexican military opposed the plan, journalist Jesus Esquivel said in an interview with Efe.
“The U.S. intelligence services have located him, they know where he is and are ready to trap him,” Esquivel said.
Esquivel, Proceso magazine’s correspondent in Washington, is promoting his book “La DEA en Mexico.”
President Felipe Calderon, who governed Mexico from 2006 to 2012, wanted the United States to capture the top boss of the Sinaloa drug cartel, but the Mexican army and navy “were opposed and stopped the operation” because only U.S. personnel would take part, Esquivel said.
Esquivel interviewed Drug Enforcement Administration agent Jose Baeza, who told him the DEA provided the Mexican government on two occasions with all the information it needed to capture Guzman, but the drug lord got away both times in four-wheel drive vehicles in the mountains.
The Mexican government knows where Guzman is hiding because it has received intelligence reports from the DEA and other agencies, as well as information from its own military and civilian intelligence services, and officials have a list of the drug lord’s properties, Esquivel said.
The Pentagon prepared a plan to capture Guzman in an operation similar to the one that ended with the death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, Esquivel said.
“Washington has not discarded the plan” and will propose it to Enrique Peña Nieto, who became Mexico’s president on Dec. 1, the journalist said.
“The capture of this drug trafficker, if the Mexicans allow it, would be as easy as taking candy from a baby,” Esquivel said.
The United States considers this mission a “priority” because Guzman is the leader of the world’s most powerful criminal organization, Esquivel said, citing a U.S. Treasury Department analysis.
Mexican government intelligence reports, as well as DEA, CIA and FBI reports, have concluded that the Sinaloa cartel is the largest exporter of illegal drugs to both the United States and countries in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
The United States offered a reward of $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Guzman, who is considered extremely dangerous, in 2004, while the Mexican government put a price of 30 million pesos (about $2.4 million) on the drug lord’s head.
Durango, which forms Mexico’s so-called “Golden Triangle” of the narcotics trade with Chihuahua and Sinaloa states, is considered one of the likely hiding places of Guzman, who was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western state of Jalisco on Jan. 19, 2001. EFE