File:Joaquín Guzmán Loera, aka El Chapo Guzmán.jpg

El Chapo Guzman

Another dark alliance? According to an investigation by El Universal between 2002 and 2012 the DEA had an arrangement with Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel that allowed the organization to smuggle billions of dollars of drugs while Sinaloa provided information on rival cartels. The Sinaloa Cartel was led at that time by recently arrested Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Guzman’s arrest in February of this year has been touted throughout US and Mexican law enforcement agencies as one of their signature achievements culminating in victory laps throughout US and Mexican media. But given the collaboration between Guzman’s cartel and the DEA for over a decade this sense of achievement seems misplaced. Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel were more of a partner with US law enforcement than a target according to documents provided by El Universal.

“The DEA agents met with members of the cartel in Mexico to obtain information about their rivals and simultaneously built a network of informants who sign drug cooperation agreements, subject to results, to enable them to obtain future benefits, including cancellation of charges in the U.S.,” reports El Universal, which also interviewed more than one hundred active and retired police officers as well as prisoners and experts.

In what is becoming official history, the DEA is presenting an exaggerated picture of Guzman to the media, that his ability to remain free was due to a “capacity for great, great strategic planning.” But is Guzman a criminal mastermind or did he remain free because the DEA was collaborating with his organization? Even a cautious analysis has to incorporate both facts, which the Associated Press failed to do. Instead, they invoked Al Capone to make a flawed narrative make sense.

Then again, Al Capone would have just been a thuggish salon keeper if not for Prohibition. Eventually people recognized the law was the real problem not a mysterious gang of super-criminals like Al Capone that sprang from nowhere. Perhaps when the truth about El Chapo Guzman is acknowledged people will finally realize the drug war is the real problem.

Or we can keep pretending we are fighting Al Capone.

Photo from Wikipedia.