Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman, arguably Mexico’s most notorious cartel boss, was finally extradited to the U.S. last week in a swift operation. Once in the U.S., El Chapo was quickly transported to New York, where he is now housed in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a prison that has been described as worse than Guantanamo Bay.
So what makes the Metropolitan Correctional Center worse than Guantanamo?
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who has served time in both prisons, explained the differences between the two, saying that Guantanamo had room to socialize and pray with other inmates. On the other hand, the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s conditions were worse because many prisoners were in solitary confinement.
David E. Patton, one of El Chapo’s lawyers, told the New York Times that the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York is the perfect place to drive someone crazy.
Lights can stay on 24 hours a day, windows are obscured, and the slot through which guards interact with prisoners are kept shut, providing no link to the outside world. Prisoners’ eyesight is known to deteriorate in these conditions, leaving many nearsighted. Guards watch inmates at all times via cameras installed in each cell. Catherine Linaweaver, a former lockup warden, spoke to the Associated Press about the facility, saying, “It’s got extra security above and beyond what you would have in a restricted housing area. There is no other unit in the Bureau of Prisons like the high-security unit in New York.”
It seems like everybody today is trying to get in on the alcohol business. Whether it’s The Rock with a new tequila brand or Ryan Reynolds buying a gin company, it seems to be all the rage right now that even “El Chapo” is getting his own line of beers.
Say hello to the “El Chapo 701” brand run by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s daughter Alejandrina Guzman Salazar, who also is behind a fashion and lifestyle company built around her jailed father’s brand. The new line of beer, called El Chapo Mexican Lager, was unveiled for the first time to the public on Jan. 14 at a fashion trade show in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“It hasn’t been released for sale to the public yet. I just brought some to display,” spokeswoman Adriana Ituarte told AFP, as the beer line is currently still waiting on government approval to sell beer in Mexico. The alcohol displayed at the trade showed brown, black and white labeled craft beer bottles with the Sinaloa cartel leader’s infamous mustache face adorned on them.
Alejandrina Guzman Salazar’s company is banking on the idea that people will want to buy craft beer, labeled and named after her infamous father, at bars and markets in Mexico.
Beer lovers won’t have to break the bank either when it comes to purchasing the new line of beer which comes in at 70.10 pesos, or about $3.73, for a 355 ml bottle. There is also the name of the brand, “El Chapo 701” which has an interesting meaning behind it. The “701” is a reference to El Chapo’s place on the 2009 list of the world’s richest persons from Forbes magazine (estimated at $1 billion).
The “El Chapo” beer is expected to have a large fan base due to the notoriety of the imprisoned drug cartel leader and a growing market for collectible celebrity alcoholic beverages like these. The company is hoping that, besides just the name and branding of the beer, fans will actually enjoy the drink and keep coming back to it.
“I don’t know if we take the label off and the beer is good if it’s going to sell,’ Ituarte told the Daily Mail. “But obviously the brand gives the plus of sale, we continue with the idea that we are selling and as long as the product is good, people buy it and like it.”
Ituarte said at the trade show that the product will be sold at bars throughout Mexico that also sell stock craft beer, a market that has flourished in Mexico City in recent years due to the growth of microbreweries. The lager was produced by La Chingonería, a Mexico City-based brewery company.
“This is an artisanal beer, with 4 percent alcohol. This prototype is a lager, and it’s made up of malt, rice, and honey so it’s good,” Ituarte told Daily Mail. “And the idea is for it to be sold at bars that stock craft beer.”
This is not the first time that “El Chapo” has seen his name being cashed in on by his family. There has been a clothing and accessories line made in tribute of Guzman.
Salazar’s company has already cashed in on her father’s name with a line of T items such as t-shirts, belts, purses, and jackets all adorned with imagery of Guzman and the 701 logo. The brand has been quite successful in under a year of going public which shows the power of “El Chapo’s” name.
Salazar isn’t the only one getting in on the drug lord’s name. Last March Guzmán’s wife, Emma Coronel, launched a fashion and leisurewear line, licensed by her husband. “I’m very excited to start this project, which was based on ideas and concepts that my husband and I had years ago,” Coronel told CNN in a statement at the time of the launch. “It is a project dedicated to our daughters.”
These dedicated “El Chapo” brands show the notoriety and the power of his name when it comes to marketing. If this new beer line is anything like the clothing and accessories already released under his name, there is sure to be a market for this too.
Guzman is currently serving a life sentence at a supermax prison in Colorado after being convicted on drug trafficking and weapons charges in 2019. El Chapo was forced to forfeit $12.6 billion as part of his punishment.
Some would say that interest rates are so low at the moment, that it’s a prime time to buy a house. But you know what’s an even better reason to check out what’s on the market? Three words: El Chapo’s house. That’s right, amigas. Now that the ex-leader of the Sinaloa Cartel is definitively stuck with a pretty hefty life sentence, his goods are up for sale. His house and worldly possessions, that is. Not the drugs and other contraband.
We should probably mention: it’s not just one house being auctioned, it’s six.
Imagine owning six houses. That’s definitely living the dream. Although, in Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán’s case, he was pretty much confined to his living quarters when he was on the run. Granted, we can make an educated guess that there’s probably only so much you can do, even in a super duper decked-out pad. Poor El Chapo had it pretty rough, what with having to hide from the authorities across six homes. Especially in this economy. Okay, okay, we can only get away with so much sarcasm.
Apparently bidding on the drug lord’s home in Calle Rio Humaya will start at $107,349.
But, don’t be fooled: not all of his houses are worth the same. It’s thought that, altogether, his collection of houses should fetch at least a staggering 19.5 million Mexican pesos – or, 1 million US dollars worth. Despite their impressive price tag, it’s worth noting that each of the properties also come fully furnished, sporting things such as television sets, washing and drying machines, microwaves and even exercise machines! That makes them a bargain, right?
And sure, they’re a bargain for anyone who’s watched too many Netflix true crime specials.
Apparently one of the homes is sporting a secret escape tunnel underneath a bathtub. The story behind this fateful tunnel is that the Mexican military had originally barged into El Chapo’s home in Culiacán, Sinaloa, in the early hours of a mid-February morning, back in 2004. The bathtub tunnel is credited with being the reason why El Chapo was able to escape the military’s clutches through an above ground drainage system. That is, until El Chapo was eventually captured, just one week after the raid.
Rumor has it that quite a few of the kingpin’s houses are connected by tunnels.
After all, tunneling seemed to be El Chapo’s favorite way to get around: he previously managed to escape from a Mexican prison in 2015 by tunneling out through a shower stall. Unfortunately, though, we’re yet to hear of any word about whether the laundry cart El Chapo used in his 2001 prison break is also included in any of the auctions.
All jokes aside, the real question is whether there will be a lot of interest in the properties, or not.
And we’re not just talking about the price point. One of the homes was originally purchased by El Chapo for the mother of his son, Ovidio Guzmán López. While the property itself has some pretty substantial draws – we’re talking multiple bedrooms, and an outdoor backyard pool – it’s also connected to a guy who is still on the run, and is very much wanted by the United States. There’s a high chance he might not necessarily want to just let go of a three-storey home that’s worth over half a million dollars. Or other things like the two luxury ships and convoy pricey sports cars. You know, the Ford Mustangs, Jaguars, and Mercedes limousines.
And it may not entirely be up to Guzmán López. El Chapo’s kingpin status fell to his sons after his arrest.
Word on the street has it that the Mexican government had arrested Guzmán López back in October, trying to deal a real blow to the cartels. However, the cartels retaliated by attacking a housing complex designed for military families. 14 people died during the shootouts, resulting in the government releasing Guzmán López to de-escalate the violence. With a reaction like that from the cartels over Guzmán López’s capture, it begs the question as to whether the sale of El Chapo’s homes may inspire copycat attacks during the auctions themselves, or on the new homeowners themselves.
Anyway, those daunting questions aside, here’s hoping that the Mexican government, who are responsible for the sale, see a proper payday from this series of El Chapo properties. The intention for the funds is to see them donated to a children’s music program based in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.
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