Notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán was sentenced Wednesday in a New York court to life in prison plus 30 years. Guzmán oversaw the Sinaloa Cartel, a massive drug-running operation that distributed narcotics throughout the United States. He was also something of a folk hero to some people for his multiple prison escapes.
The last straw came during a January 2016 shootout with Mexican Marines in a mission dubbed Operation Black Swan. The Mexican Marines stormed a house in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, and in the ensuing firefight, five cartel gunmen were killed and six injured. One marine was also injured. During the firefight, Guzmán escaped the house through a series of tunnels and then tried to flee in a stolen vehicle. Federal agents caught sight of him and arrested him on the spot.
According to one account, the arresting agents weren’t even been aware of the larger mission being carried out in the area by Mexican Marines. Arresting Guzmán was simply a chance encounter, a stroke of good luck. Guzmán was later extradited to the United States.
Joint Operations Special Command maintained a small analysis cell in Mexico, but the Mexican government has been extremely wary of an American military presence on the ground. Much of this has to do with fears of neocolonialism, as well as Latin American machismo—insecurity over the fact that Mexico cannot manage its own internal affairs.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador described described Guzmán’s life sentence as “inhumane,” while at the same time decrying the violence surrounding the activities of Mexico’s drug cartels.