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The saga of 'El Chapo'

Claudia Herrera-Pahl
January 10, 2016

Mexico has announced the arrest of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the world's most wanted drug baron, by tweeting: 'Mission Accomplished.' But DW's Claudia Herrera-Pahl says not nearly enough has been done.

Mexican drug boss, Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, arrested
Image: Reuters/E. Garrido

His arrest was every bit as spectacular as his last escape six months ago. "El Chapo" was apprehended trying to escape through a sewage tunnel. No doubt the story of a man with a proclivity for sewers would make a great Hollywood story; and it is also no wonder that the man wanted to write the story himself.

In the end, Guzmán, if reports are true, was tripped up by his own vanity. Investigators picked up his trail when he began contacting Hollywood stars about a script that he had written for an autobiographic film. Now, it seems, he will not be able to direct the film himself, but will have to watch this week's premiere of part one of "The Escape of the Century" from the Altiplano maximum security prison at Almoloya. Nevertheless, even if it isn't his own film project, he will certainly have a few ideas for future sequels.

The United States has long demanded that Mexico extradite "El Chapo" on, among others, murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking charges. However, the Mexican press is already speculating that it could be a long time before that happens - if ever. Certainly, enough time to plan a third escape and write a few more chapters in the saga of the infamous drug boss. Either way, it will also be enough time to provide more circus entertainment for national and international audiences.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto called Guzmán's arrest a "victory for the rule of law and a step towards ending lawlessness." He said that authorities had once again demonstrated that citizens can trust them.

Deutsche Welle Spanish Dept. Claudia Herrera-Pahl
DW's Claudia Herrera-PahlImage: DW

Yet the drug lord is just one knot, albeit a large one, in a vast tapestry of crime and corruption in a country being held captive by the drug trade. His arrest is certainly a positive development, but it will not lessen drug trafficking, nor will it reduce the number of kidnappings, nor will it end the violence that grips the country.

If the Mexican government wants to restore the people's trust in its institutions, it will have to make real progress in the fight against lawlessness - starting with investigations into the unsolved kidnappings and massacres at Tlatlaya in June 2014, Ayotzinapa in September 2014 and Apatzingán in January 2015.

Those were just some of the darkest events, there were many more. But those three were the most recent, and they would be a good place to start a determined investigation into crimes against humanity that have thus far gone unpunished.

Many great efforts will be required in order to regain the credibility that the Mexican government has lost and to win back the people's trust - people who wish for nothing more than an end to the bloody saga. Only then will it be time to deliver that cinematic line: "Mission accomplished."

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