Narco-Villain “El Chapo’s” Arrest Packaged for Media Consumption

Former DEA Supervisor Contends Guzman’s Capture Was an “Arranged” Event

By NarcoNews’ Bill Conroy

The recent capture of the notorious Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, longtime leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa narco-trafficking organization, was not what it appeared to be, according to a former DEA supervisory agent who still has a deep network of contacts in Mexico.

Guzman’s takedown, despite the media script portraying it as a daring predawn raid, was, in fact, an “arranged thing,” claims the retired DEA agent, Hector Berrellez, who led the investigation into the 1985 torture and murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena. That cross-border investigation ran for several years and eventually led to the capture and conviction in Mexico of Rafael Caro Quintero, Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo — considered the leaders of Mexico’s then-dominate drug organization, The Guadalajara Cartel.

“Chapo [Guzman] was protected by Mexican federal agents and military, by the Mexican government,” Berrellez told Narco News. “He was making [Mexican President Enrique] Peña Nieto look bad, and so the government decided to withdraw his security detail. Chapo was told he could either surrender, or he would be killed.”

Berrellez, who retired from the DEA in 1996, stresses that he is not speaking on behalf of the US government, but rather as an individual who has decades of law enforcement experience, including serving as DEA’s lead investigator in Mexico.

“This information comes from my sources, that I am still in contact with,” Berrellez adds. “I developed a large informant network in Mexico, including sources in the Mexican Attorney General’s office, Mexican generals and others. These people are still in contact with me.”

Berrellez says his version of what happened is further evidenced by the fact that Guzman was apprehended early Saturday morning, Feb. 22, in an unremarkable condominium tower in the Pacific resort town of Mazatlan, Mexico, without a shot being fired and no security detail present to offer a fight.

“This guy [Guzman] was bigger than Pablo Escobar [the infamous Colombian narco-trafficker whom law enforcers killed in 1993 in a rooftop shootout in Medellin],” Berrellez says. “He [Guzman] ran around with a several-hundred man security detail that included Mexican military and federal agents, yet, in the end, he is arrested like a rat in a hole. My sources are telling me it was an arranged thing.”

Finding Chapo

As remarkable as Berrellez claims may sound to some, there is evidence indicating that law enforcement authorities have known for years where to find Guzman, who has led the Sinaloa organization since at least 2001, when he "escaped" from prison. Still, law enforcers mysteriously failed to capture him — until last week.

Among the reasons for Guzman’s long run from the law, several law enforcers and intelligence sources told Narco News, was not due to the fact that he could not be found, but rather because Guzman’s security team was formidable and any move against him would have led to a bloodbath — not an attractive political or law-enforcement option.

An email penned by the head of the Texas-based private intelligence firm Strafor, obtained and made public in 2012 by WikiLeaks, echoes that analysis:

Chapo commands the support of a large network of informers and has security circles of up to 300 men that make launching capture operations difficult.

Once the security-detail obstacle was removed, Guzman became a sitting duck. One law enforcer with experience working in Latin America put it this way:

It seems Chapo put his life in the hands of the people he paid off [the Mexican government, if Berrellez is right, and the military and federal cops attached to his security detail]. But whenever the government wants to get you, they can get you. Look at Escobar, Fonseca, Gallardo, Quintero. They were all considered untouchable. Then, one day, it was in the interest of the government to get them.

Retired DEA agent Phil Jordan, who once led DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center, told Narco News that he was surprised that Guzman was captured under a PRI government. (President Peña Nieto is part of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI in its Spanish initials).

“Chapo contributed a lot of money to the PRI,” Jordan says. “The PRI historically has been an ally of the cartels, and Chapo Guzman has contributed millions to their campaigns. All of that is documented [in intelligence reports] I have seen.”

After Jordan made similar comments to the Spanish-language TV station Univision recently, the DEA issued the following statement to the media…

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