Things That Matter

‘El Chapo’ Guzman Wants To Give His Giant Drug Fortune To Indigenous Mexicans

Mundo Deportivo

Convicted Mexican cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman wants his drug fortune to be redistributed amongst Mexico’s indigenous people. Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador agrees. El Chapo forfeited $12.7 billion to the United States following his 10-count indictment and conviction of racketeering and drug trafficking crimes. 

You can’t really argue with President Lopez Obrador or El Chapo on this front. That money was made and harvested in Mexico, and presumably many Mexican citizens were exploited and harmed in the process. If the money is being confiscated, it isn’t unreasonable that El Chapo pays back those damages to the people he hurt. Nor is it so farfetched that the money is redistributed for the betterment of Mexican citizens. Moreover, wouldn’t it be nice to see how angry it makes President Trumpito? Puts a smile on your face, doesn’t it? 

Could $12.7 billion really be given to Indigenous Mexicans? 

In July this summer, US authorities acquired a court order that forced El Chapo to forfeit $12.7 billion earned as a drug lord. However, the 62-year-old has never admitted to earning billions of dollars (for the obvious legal reasons). Moreover, it is merely a calculated estimate based on average drug prices. However, the United States believes the sum is roughly the amount the Sinola Cartel leader earned from trafficking cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. 

“This is largely an academic exercise as the government has never located or identified a penny of this $12.7 billion in proceeds supposedly generated by Mr. Guzman,” said Jeffrey Lichtman, a lawyer for Guzman.

Nevertheless, his lawyer Jose Gonzalez Meza says if that money exists, El Chapo has thoughts. 

“He says, well, if that money exists … that money does not belong to the United States; it belongs to Mexico,” Gonzalez Meza told Reuters. “And he asks for President Lopez Obrador to allocate (the money) to the indigenous communities.”

El Chapo began floating the idea from the Colorado maximum-security prison he is held in to his mother and sisters in August, according to the lawyer.

Who is El Chapo? 

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán is thought to have been the most powerful drug trafficker in the world. A Mexican drug lord of the Sinaloa Cartel, El Chapo was first captured in Guatemala and extradited to Mexico in 1993. Following a 20-year prison sentence for murder and trafficking, El Chapo was able to bribe prison guards and escape in 2001. 

For over a decade he was a fugitive until being recaptured again in 2014. In 2015, he escaped once again through a tunnel in his jail cell. Following a shoot out in 2016, Mexican authorities were able to extradite him to the United States where he had indictments in over seven U.S. federal courts. It wasn’t until 2019, that El Chapo was found guilty on at least 10 charges including homicide, money laundering, and drug trafficking with intent to distribute. El Chapo was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years and was ordered to forfeit more than $12.7 billion. 

A different kind of “Robin Hood.”

Earlier this year, President Lopez Obrador launched the creation of a Robin Hood-like institute that would redistribute nefarious-gotten wealth back to Mexican citizens. He supported El Chapo’s idea. 

“I liked the declaration. I don’t know if it’s true. I can’t verify it, but if it’s as it came out in the media, that a lawyer says Guzman wants his wealth to be given to Mexico’s indigenous communities, I think it’s good,” he said.

The President simply wants any Mexican criminal forfeitures to help the people who were most hurt by them. He said the Mexican government would take “all necessary legal actions” to ensure this would happen. 

“Also, we have started a process because we want everything that’s confiscated in the United States from criminals or suspected criminals from Mexico is returned to Mexico,” he added.

Hope for indigenous Mexicans.

In the 1970s, President Lopez Obrador worked with indigenous communities in Tabasco. Mexico’s indigenous population continues to be the most marginalized in the country and Lopez Obrador has vowed to improve conditions for them. 

According to a census conducted by the National Council for Evaluation of Social Development Policy, 71.9% of Mexico’s indigenous population lived in extreme poverty in 2016. Around 71.3% of indigenous people reported earning minimum wage or less, while 19.8% of indigenous people between ages 30 and 64 could not read or write. These disparities are largely attributed to the inaccessibility of food, social welfare, and basic shelter services. 

While El Chapo’s fortune and how much of it the United States actually has, remains somewhat of a mystery, we know there is at least some money. This man wouldn’t be considered the most powerful drug lord in the world otherwise. Using that money to enrich Mexican citizens feels a lot more like justice than letting the wealthiest nation in the world keep it to do what… pay for a border wall most people don’t want? 

This Traditional Mexican Ingredient Is Ending Up On More And More Menus In The US But Do You Know What It Is?

Culture

This Traditional Mexican Ingredient Is Ending Up On More And More Menus In The US But Do You Know What It Is?

Omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Corn smut, fungus, Mexican truffle — these are just some of the aliases of huitlacoche(pronounced whee-tla-KOH-cheh). But what exactly is this soft, spreadable and dark-as-night ingredient? In simple terms, it’s a plant disease (yes, it’s a parasite) that grows on ears of corn around the kernels in puffy, gray clouds that look kind of like river stones. But when you take this strange fungus into the culinary world, huitlacoche becomes a delicacy used in all sorts of dishes from soups to enchiladas to sauces.

This is an ingredient that Indigenous people have been working with for centuries but as it becomes more common on menus across the US, people are wondering what exactly it is.

Yes, it’s even referred to as the Mexican truffle.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Because it’s technically a fungus, much like the ultra expensive truffle, many restaurants – especially upscale ones – across the US are truing to market it as a truffle. Sure. Whatever floats your boat. 

So where is this Mexican delicacy from, exactly?

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The name huitlacoche is Nahuatl, which is the language of the Aztecs still spoken by more than a million people in Central Mexico today. Utilizing this ingredient also dates back to this time. Corn, or maize, was a staple in the Aztecs’ diet, and they used the corn fungus mainly in tamales and stews.

The Native American Hopi and Zuni tribes have also worked with huitlacoche from the get-go. The former called the fungus “nanha,” and the latter held the ingredient in such high standing they say it symbolized the “generation of life.” In fact, huitlacoche has been an important food for indigenous peoples of the Southwest for centuries. So much so that the fungus has ceremonial, culinary and medicinal uses. As far as the healthfulness aspect is concerned, huitlacoche offers more protein than regular corn and has high amounts of lysine, an essential amino acid not found in normal kernels.

Nowadays, chefs are popularizing this once lesser known ingredient in restaurants from LA to NYC.  

Credit: Rosa Mexicano / Screenshot

Of course, as they say, an ingredient could be used for thousands of years by a certain culture but once the white folk ‘discover’ it, it’s said to have gone mainstream. Although it’s true that many US-based chefs are cooking with huitlacoche, it’s still predominantly an ingredient you’ll only find in Mexican driven kitchens. 

Ok, where can I get it? 

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Huitlacoche can be bought at most Mexican food specialty stores and comes frozen, jarred or canned. Since you don’t have to strip the corn of the fungus, using huitlacoche in this way proves pretty easy and requires little to no prep. If you do happen upon it fresh, pick the spores when they are light gray in color on the outside and have a spongy texture. Firm samples are overripe and bitter. For a superior earthy-corn taste, go for huitlacoche that forms on the ears, not the stalk. Occasionally, you may find this ideal huitlacoche at a farmers’ market

Now, I’ve got it. What can I do with it?

Since it’s technically a vegetable, you can use it raw. And because it’s a soft fungus, you don’t have to worry about chopping, pureeing or shredding, especially if you get it in a can or frozen. If you do manage to source some fresh huitlacoche, first thank the corn gods, then throw it into dishes whole, or delicately tear it apart with your fingers. Don’t be surprised when the gray fungus turns black with heat — this is a signature characteristic of the ingredient and the reason why many dishes that contain huitlacoche have a dark hue.

At the Rosa Mexicana chain, executive regional chef Joe Quintana says the ingredient goes with so many things, you will have no trouble finding a way to play with it: “Huitlacoche has many uses, and its earthy flavor gives you options to put it into dishes as well as sauces.” At the restaurants, he has paired it with chicken, beef and, surprise, more corn! He also says it goes particularly well with cheese, especially in quesadillas. In a way, you can think of pairing huitlacoche with items that you would normally add mushrooms to, and beyond

Here are some of our favorite uses for this delightfully tasty ingredient. 

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Quesadillas de huitlacoche are a go-to on the streets of Mexico City and the earthy flavor of huitlacoche (which also somehow tastes similar to corn) pairs perfectly with the fried masa and salsas. Remember, in Mexico City quesadillas don’t traditionally come with cheese – you have to ask if you want ‘em cheesy. 

You can also throw huitlacoche on top of a sope.

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Sopes were built to showcase the flavor of its toppings, which make them the perfect vessel for huitlacoche. 

Or in a gordita. 

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Paired with the crisp dough of a gordita, the flavor of the huitlacoche is allowed to shine through and I couldn’t be happier when I eat a huitlacoche gordita. 

They also make an amazing filling for enchiladas. 

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Because of their rich, earthy flavor, enchiladas de huitlacoche are often served bathed in a rich mole sauce. Seriously, one of my favorite go-to dishes. It’s rich and kinda heavy but you don’t regret a thing. Get a super good recipe here. 

Claudia Ochoa Félix, Alleged Crime Leader Of The Sinaloa Drug Cartel, Was Found Dead

Things That Matter

Claudia Ochoa Félix, Alleged Crime Leader Of The Sinaloa Drug Cartel, Was Found Dead

Watching “Narcos: Mexico” on Netflix taught us one major aspect of cartels, there’s never just one person running a massive operation that includes importing and exporting drugs. Some may conclude that Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was the mastermind over his billion-dollar drug empire but there were many key players involved as well, many of which are in either in jail or dead.  Now, there’s one more casualty to add to the list. 

Claudia Ochoa Félix, an alleged leader of “Los Ántrax” — an “armed enforcement wing of the Sinaloa drug cartel” was found dead.

Instagram/@chismes_calientes2019

Officials report that the cause of death for Félix, who was found dead over the weekend in Isla Musala, Culiacan, Mexico. is being ruled as suspicious. Félix, who’s Instagram shows her both posing as a model and around weaponry, was an alleged leader of “Los Ántrax” and had affiliations with El Chapo’s cartel. Her ties to Mexico’s crime world gave her a couple of infamous nicknames including the “Kim Kardashian of organized crime” the “Anthrax Empress.” However, at the end of the day, the 32-year-old (some outlets report she was 35), Félix was seen as one of the most powerful women within the Mexican cartel, a title she has always denied

Preliminary reports show Félix was found dead over the weekend due to a suspected overdose.

Credit: Instagram/@velia.o

However, because of her involvement with the cartel, some reports claim the death is suspicious. According to The Sun, “It is unclear whether she was the victim of foul play or whether it was an accidental death. Aspiration occurs when someone breaths foreign objects such as fluids into their lungs, causing choking and death. Reports said that she went to a nightclub in the city and returned to a man’s house later that night. The presumed lover said he tried to wake Ms. Felix but when she did not respond he called the local authorities.”

Félix leaves behind three kids. She was also suspected of being romantically involved with another cartel leader, Jose Rodrigo Arechiga, also known as “El Chino Antrax.”

Credit: Instagram/@chismes_calientes2019

In 2016, Arechiga was arrested for his involvement with the Mexican cartel, and back then reports circulated that Félix was trying to take over the entire cartel empire which would have sparked a drug war against El Chapo. After El Chapo’s capture, which resulted in a guilty verdict earlier this year and now faces life in prison, opened the door for other drug rings in Mexico to take over. One of those was “Los Ántrax” — and its leader was allegedly Félix

“My children are being subjected to bullying, my mother is suffering from anxiety, and I am devastated and without peace, and now my physical integrity is threatened,” Félix said in a 2014 interview with VICE. “That’s not me in the majority of them,” she added. “I’ve filed a complaint before the authorities so that they can investigate and arrest those responsible for opening and administering [the accounts], causing irreparable harm to my children and myself.”

In 2014, a woman named Yuriana Castillo Torres was allegedly killed in Culiacan, Mexico, because assailants confused her with Félix. 

Credit: Instagram/@_farandulaygentevip

Both women were dark beauties, and unfortunately they also both died too young. Torres was romantically linked to Arechiga. According to reports from 2014, Torres was killed very violently. Milenio reported that Torres was kidnapped and that authorities found that her body showed signs of “torture and was tied with hands and feet with wires, wore sportswear and was wrapped in a white sheet.”

In other related news from the drug cartel world, a New York police officer who provided security for El Chapo’s wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, was found guilty for selling cocaine. Officer Ishmael Bailey, 36, was arrested this week on “charges of conspiracy and sale of a controlled substance for allegedly acting as security twice when a load of cocaine was transported from various locations around Queens,” the New York Post reports. 

As we reported earlier this year, Aispuro announced she would dedicate her time to working on a fashion collection

“I am very happy to be able to create something like this. I hope it’ll be something everyone likes,” she told the New York Daily News. “I will give it my best effort to make it good for everyone and within everyone’s reach. I want to start with a line of caps, then I’ll begin to produce clothes, jackets.”

It’s good to see there is life outside of the crime world. 

READ: Hoping To Stop The Drug War, Mexico’s President Asks Drug Cartel Leaders To ‘Think Of Your Mother’