Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the Forbes-listed billionaire who heads the Sinaloa cartel, may have died in a shootout with rival narcos in Guatemala's northern Peten province as reported by Sonia Perez for The Associated Press. However, it's still too early to pop the champagne, dance in the streets and celebrate with joy on the hopeful news because "officials stressed late Thursday that they had not yet found any bodies or even confirmed a shootout happened."
Guatemala is among the major transit points for cocaine smuggled from Colombia through Central America and Mexico before reaching crazed druggies in the United States.
Three cartels -- Sinaloa, Gulf and Los Zetas -- have entrenched footholds in the rural Peten province along the Mexican border.
Last year newly-elected Guatemalan President and former general Otto Perez Molina called in the troops in a desperate and probably futile bid to stave off the invasion from Mexican drug cartels.Earlier this month the storied Chicago Crime Commission declared El Chapo as Public Enemy No. 1 as reported by Michael Tarm for the Associated Press:
What Al Capone was to beer and whiskey during Prohibition, Guzman is to narcotics," said Art Bilek, the commission's executive vice president. "Of the two, Guzman is by far the greater threat. ... And he has more power and financial capability than Capone ever dreamed of."
Chicago is a major distribution hub for the Sinaloa cartel, and its product is delivered directly from Mexico by freight rail and semi trucks as reported by Frank Main for The Courier-News.Jack Riley, the special agent in charge of the DEA's field office in Chicago, IL, said last year that the local street gangs are proxies for the Mexican drug cartels in the battle for turf as reported by Armen Keteyian for CBS News:
Riley says Mexican cartels have a significant influence in Chicago's gang violence problem. "Let's take the gloves off on that," he said. "We know that the majority of the drugs here in Chicago, cartels are responsible for. We know that the majority of the murders are gang related. So it is very clear to see the connection and the role." As it stands now, at least three major Mexican cartels are battling over control of billions of dollars of marijuana, cocaine and -- increasingly -- heroin in this city.
Federal authorities in Chicago have an outstanding indictment against Guzman, and have offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture which, of course, may now be a moot issue.
UPDATE: A "Guatemalan official said Friday there was no evidence that . . . Guzman had been killed in a shootout in the rural north, calling such reports a misunderstanding" as reported by The Associated Press. That's a shame.