El Chapo was once as powerful as Mexico’s president

02/01/2020
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12:57
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Reuters
El Chapo was once as powerful as Mexico’s president
Recaptured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán is escorted by soldiers – Photo: Henry Romero/REUTERS

El Chapo was once as powerful as Mexico’s president

02/01/2020
12:57
Reuters
Mexico City
Julia Love & Peter Cooney/REUTERS
-A +A
Drug lord "El Chapo" became almost legendary for escaping from Mexican high-security jails twice and avoiding massive manhunts while cultivating a Robin Hood image among the poor

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Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declared an end to the days of collusion between crime and government, saying in a holiday address there was a time when drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was as powerful as the country’s president.

López Obrador, who took office in December 2018, rose to power with pledges to root out corruption in Mexico. He hailed his progress toward that goal in a speech on New Year’s Eve at the Palenque ruins in southern Mexico.

“There was a time when Guzmán Loera was as powerful, or had the influence, that the president had at that time,” said López Obrador. “That made it hard to punish those who had committed crimes. That is now history.”

Last month, Genaro García Luna, a former Mexican government official responsible for public security, was charged in the United States with accepting millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel once run by Guzmán.

Did you now Genaro García Luna's alleged accomplices include his wife and sister?

López Obrador has said Mexico will not investigate former President Felipe Calderón, who led the country at the time. But he added the Mexican government would cooperate with U.S. authorities in the probe of García Luna, who moved to the United States in 2012.

Guzmán was sentenced last year to life in prison without parole and moved to a high-security facility in Colorado after being convicted in a U.S. court of smuggling tons of drugs to the United States over a colorful, decades-long career.

He had become almost legendary for escaping from Mexican high-security jails twice and avoiding massive manhunts while cultivating a Robin Hood image among the poor in Sinaloa.

Have you heard El Chapo's son was arrested, then freed after a shootout in Culiacán?

On Tuesday, López Obrador acknowledged in his speech that his government had work to do, particularly in curbing rampant violence but described his anti-corruption drive as a point of pride.

“We are purifying public life so there is moral authority,” López Obrador said.

On Thursday, during his morning news conference, López Obrador said that “It’s not that Guzmán Loera was in the National Palace or Los Pinos, but he had representatives in the government; that is really serious, but conservators keep thinking on their pureness because that’s how they are: they go to mass and forget the commandments; they go to church, they take communion, they confess themselves to leave the score in zero and go back to the same on Sunday” when asked whether El Chapo had a connection to former president Felipe Calderón.

In that regard, AMLO said that Genaro García Luna, who is investigated for receiving alleged bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel, was Calderón’s right hand.

Did you know Genaro García Luna received millions from the previous Mexico City's administration?

“He is accused of protecting a criminal organization; that is the evidence; it must still be proved, but there is the evidence,” said López Obrador who added that crime cannot be allowed to rule.

Did you know Felipe Calderón was accused of being part of a criminal organization?

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