The most wanted man in the world, 55-year-old Mexican billionaire Joaquin Guzman Loera, has landed on the Pentagon’s hit list, according to a Spanish-language report published by Proceso (English translation), which cites anonymous military sources in the U.S. and Mexico.
The plan, described as a bin Laden-style raid orchestrated by Navy SEALS, is not confirmed by any official sources who spoke on the record and would violate the Mexican Constitution’s prohibition on foreign soldiers operating in the country. Still, reporters Jorge Carrasco and J. Araizaga Jesus Esquivel insist that outgoing President Felipe Calderón has approved the plan “in principle,” but note that U.S. officials still want to run it by incoming President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Loera, better known as “El Chapo,” runs Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, estimated to be responsible for up to one-fourth of America’s illegal drug imports. He was ranked this year by Forbes magazine as the #55 most powerful man in the world, just above the leader of Pakistan’s intelligence service, and holds a net worth over $1 billion. “El Chapo” has been captured and jailed six times, only to escape, and he’s said to be currently hiding out in the Sinaloan mountains.
While Proceso‘s report does note that the Mexican Army and Navy rejected the Pentagon’s plan to capture or kill “El Chapo,” there are some indications that real movements might be afoot. Mexican authorities said earlier this year they had arrested the son of “El Chapo,” and his identity was initially confirmed by multiple sources. The man’s lawyer, however, later claimed that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had offered them incentives to pretend they were related to the cartel kingpin, possibly to influence Mexico’s presidential election in favor of the conservative National Action Party, seen as more willing to cooperate with the U.S. government.
President Calderón himself demonstrated that willingness in March 2011, when it was revealed that he’d accepted U.S. military drones in airspace over Mexico, ostensibly to boost Mexican law enforcement agencies in their fight against the cartels. Mexican officials were reportedly “enraged” that Calderón would even discuss allowing a U.S. military presence in the country.
Just over one year later, General Martin Dempsey, Obama’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, returned from a tour of South America with warnings about the grave and growing national security threat drug cartels pose to the U.S., telling reporters he’s in favor of the U.S. exporting its most effective terror war tactics to fight the drug war.
Whether or not that means a Navy SEAL team could soon be operating in the Sinaloan mountain range on the hunt for “El Chapo” remains to be seen.
Photo: Flickr user AN HONORABLE GERMAN, creative commons licensed.