El Chapo Guzman, Although there is no official confirmation in the Unites States, Mexico or Guatemala that Mexican billionaire Drug Kingpin El Chapo Guzman could have been killed in Guatemala, the rumor spread faster than lightning throughout cyberspace.
Asked what he knew, Drug Enforcement Administration spokesperson Rusty Payne responded by e-mail, “Everything is just rumor. I have nothing to report.” Pressed whether DEA was involved in trying to confirm the rumor, Payne said, “We certainly weren’t involved in the firefight. I am sure we will find out at one point.”
The story broke late on February 21 when Guatemalan authorities said that they were investigating whether Guzman was one of at least two men killed in the Peten, an area bordering Mexico controlled by the Zetas, a rival gang to El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel. While it is not clear what led officials to think that one of the dead men could be El Chapo, according to the Guatemalan media, local residents reported a gun battle between drug gangs and said one of the dead “resembled” the world’s most-wanted drug lord. As I’m writing this post, AP is reporting that the Guatemalan government “apologized” for what it called a “misunderstanding” about an alleged shootout where El Chapo might have been killed.
Analysts in Washington questioned whether the leader of the world’s biggest narcotics cartel looks anything like he did in the only known pictures of him, wearing a heavy sky jacket. The pictures were taken many years ago. Not only are they outdated, but Mexican drug criminals in the past have used surgery to change their physical appearance. El Chapo is now believed to be 55 to 59 years old.
In light of the confusion, Washington analysts took the news with caution. “It’s very important not to jump to conclusions. There needs to be a full investigation,” said Eric Olson, an expert on Mexican security at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Olson added that while El Chapo has well established networks in Central America, “he has proven to be a very slippery person.”