Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel is, by far, the number one drug lord in the world, according to a new report by the DEA.
El Chapo has almost full control of the drug market in the United States, which includes $3 billion worth of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. He funnels it in through Chicago and Los Angeles and gangs — like MS-13, Latin Kings, Bloods, the Sureños and Crips — help distribute it to the entire country and even Canada.
According to the Mexican newspaper El Universal, this may be due to a rumored agreement made in 2000 between the Sinaloa Cartel and US Officials where, in exchange for information on other drug organizations, El Chapo would do as he pleased.
Whether or not this is true, what’s a fact is that the cartel is becoming even more powerful. El Chapo is now growing his own opium to produce heroin and compete with the South American market. He has, according to farmers and officials in Mexico, 23,000 miles of opium and marijuana fields, that’s larger than Costa Rica. And just to put things in perspective as to his profits: it costs him $5,000 to produce a kilogram of heroin and can sell it for $80,000, street value.
Obviously, that’s not without consequence. Between 2007 and 2014, heroin deaths increased by 244% and there are between 435,000 to 1.5 million heroin users in the U.S. So whether he’s behind bars or roaming free, El Chapo is keeping his King Pin title.
The U.S has a massive criminal enforcement network across the world. From Europe to Australia and across Latin America, the United States works with local governments (among others) to play the part of international police force.
This huge network has helped bring down some of the world’s largest criminal organizations. But, often times, it’s not the U.S. officers making the biggest sacrifices – it’s the criminals who join forces with the FBI or DEA as part of a plea bargain. However, those plea agreements don’t always work out in the end.
The leader of one of Honduras’ largest cartels, helped the U.S. bring down serious criminals.
According to report by VICE, Valle has a long history of helping U.S. authorities. For example, just months after her arrest, her brothers were extradited to the United States to face charges related to drug trafficking. Meanwhile in Honduras, authorities seized more than 50 properties owned by Los Valles.
And although it hasn’t been confirmed, many contribute the arrest of Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernandez – a former congressman and brother of Honduras’ current president – on drug trafficking charges.
Needless to say, this woman has helped U.S. authorities aggressively pursue the dismantling of a massive drug network (along with its ties in the US) across Latin America.
Her criminal empire was especially adept at building coalitions among cartels.
According to court documents, Los Valles was based in Western Honduras – near the Guatemalan border. The family allegedly moved tens of thousands of kilos of cocaine every month – taking the valuable drugs from Colombia, through Honduras, and into the United States using speedboats, submarines and small airplanes.
Her organization often worked together alongside Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel – formerly headed by drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán (now serving life in a United States prison).
As the kinder face of the organization, Valle was focused more on finances and logistics instead of violence. In fact, she was often sent to broker new relationships with the country’s criminal and business elites. Sources close to her said she also helped construct churches and gave money to charity during her time in criminal power in Honduras.
Valle was arrested on arrival in Miami by United States law enforcement back in 2014.
Valle served four and a half years of an 11-year prison sentence and was then realeased. But shortly after being released from prison, she was picked up by ICE and sent to a detention center in Atlanta. Her asylum claim to remain in the United States was denied—a decision she is currently appealing.
Now, after more than six years helping U.S. officials – she’s facing deportation back to Honduras, and likely death.
Since her arrest and plea deal in 2014, Valle has been acting as a key witness for the U.S. She’s helped the government arrest some of the strongest drug lords in the region, including her own organization. If she’s sent back to Honduras – she faces an almost certain death.
“There is a hunt on right now in my country for people who collaborated and then co-operated [with law enforcement] in drug trafficking cases,” former Army Capt. Santos Rodriguez Orellana told VICE by phone from Honduras.
It’s death sentence for her,” according to Mike Vigil, a former chief of international operations at the DEA, who also spoke with VICE News.
He added: “Her chances of survival in Honduras are slim to none. Honduras is, without question, a narco state. The highest levels within the political spectrum along with the military and police are in the pockets of drug traffickers. Given the fact that she cooperated in key drug trafficking trials, she is not likely to survive in Honduras. She is going into a fiery cauldron and is definitely going to get burned.”
Her case shows why so few people see the U.S. legal system as a partner – they become disposable just like that.
As if it wasn’t dangerous enough for Valle to return to Honduras with a network of criminals hunting for their revenge, there’s a hunt for her at the highest levels of government.
Honduras Public Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that Valle faces charges of money laundering in Honduras, and there is a warrant for her arrest. Her arrival in Honduras wont go unnoticed and being imprisoned will offer her little protection from violence.
El Chapo’s mother has reportedly asked Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) to bring her son back from U.S. federal custody. María Consuelo Loera Pérez, El Chapo’s mother, claims that the U.S. illegally extradited her son from Mexico.
María Consuelo Loera Pérez, El Chapo’s mom, wants her son brought back to Mexico.
According to Daily Mail, El Chapo’s mother sent a letter to President López Obrador claiming to have information that proves that the U.S illegally extradited her son. In the letter, Loera Pérez argues that her attorneys have sufficient proof that the U.S. acted inappropriately and is asking President López Obrador to bring El Chapo back to serve his sentence in Mexican custody.
It is alleged that Loera Pérez’s attorneys are already in talks to bring El Chapo back to Mexico.
Some people have been able to find humor in the news. El Chapo was extradited and eventually convicted by U.S. authorities on a series of felonies tied to his participation in the drug trade. His involvement in cartel activities in Mexico that spilled into the U.S. led to his extradition and sentencing in U.S. custody.
The news comes after a viral video showed AMLO visiting with El Chapo’s mother.
The video, allegedly taken in Badiraguato, Sinaloa, Mexico, shows AMLO walking up and greeting Loera Pérez as she sits in a car. He can allegedly be heard telling her not to get out of the car and that he did get her letter. The mention of the letter does lend credibility to the claims of El Chapo’s mother fighting to bring him back. However, it is unclear what the letter he mentioned addressed.
The video is drawing strong reactions from people as AMLO is violating social distancing guidelines set forth to combat COVID-19.
AMLO has been panned for leaving Mexico exceptionally vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic by not moving quickly enough to set restrictions. Health authorities in Mexico are urging all 130 million citizens to stay indoors and to only leave on essential business.
Some people are more upset with the fact AMLO met with El Chapo’s mother.
“In this case, the least of the problems is the social distancing for Covid19,” @archibaldo53 tweeted. “The true problem is the significance of this visit that clarifies our doubt completely and finds López in relations with these people.”
El Chapo is currently serving a life sentence in U.S. federal custody. He was sentenced to life by a Federal District Court in Brooklyn for his drug, murder, and money laundering charges.