At 6:40 AM last Saturday, Joaquín Guzmán Loera was taken prisoner by Mexican Navy special forces in the pretty little seaside resort of Mazatlán, where senior Americans love to retire and where the juniors of the drug trade love to party. Since his escape from jail in 2001, he had moved freely around Mexico, and, it would seem, much of the rest of the world. People who know about these things even say that he was frequently in San Diego, California, shopping for the designer tennis shoes and fancy moccasins he favored. But in the end the best-known, and possibly even the most powerful of Mexico’s many, many drug traffickers was pretty much where he’d always been: in his home state of Sinaloa. He was found dozing peacefully in a plain furnished apartment overlooking Mazatlán’s oceanfront drive—the kind of place rented by families looking to save money on a comfortable vacation. Reportedly, there was a pot of beans on the kitchenette stove at the time of his arrest. His fortune is legendary, but Guzmán has always been a country boy at heart.
His capture was so easy that one wonders if he was tired of the hard life, looking to be caught, needing some relief from the pressure of transporting thousands of tons of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, you name it, in addition to the daily agony of deciding whom to kill, whom to trust. And then there was all the money requiring cleaning, tons of that too, literally, barrels and cratefuls of cash coming in every week: What to do with the boxes of it left over once the bodyguards, spies, goons, hit men, police officers, judges, mayors, governors, customs officials, army generals, prison guards, railroad workers, trucking bosses, journalists, ranch hands, relatives, cabinet ministers, bank officers, helicopter, jet, and airplane pilots, business associates, and barbers have been paid off? This last item is not negligible; the person who comes in to wield scissors very close to your neck once a month or so and monitor your half-hearted attempts at a disguise—a moustache, a dye job—is someone you definitely want to tip richly if you’re Joaquín “Chapo” Guzmán.