Apr 1 2014, 4:04pm CDT | by Forbes
As recently as two years ago, Forbes estimated Mexican drug lord Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s net worth at $1 billion. Now the jailed CEO of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel has told Mexican prosecutors that he is “just a farmer” who earns 20,000 pesos a year ($1,500 dollars), according to a transcript of his preliminary interrogation obtained by the Mexican daily Excelsior .
El Chapo is described in Forbes ’ 2013 Most Powerful People list as the world’s most powerful drug trafficker. The Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for an estimated 25% of all illegal drugs that enter the U.S. via Mexico. Law enforcement sources estimate that the cartel’s annual revenues may exceed $3 billion.
The summary of the interrogation published by Excelsior does not say if he was asked how is it that a modest farmer escaped from a high-security jail in 2001 after bribing jail guards and local officials. (The new head of Mexico’s National Commission on Security recently made assurances that El Chapo will not escape again and said that he is under “special surveillance” in Mexico’s Almoloya’s high-security prison.)
Needless to say, no one believes El Chapo’s nonsense. Even his former accomplices are unwilling to vouch for him. Carlos Manuel Hoo Ramírez, a former army commando described by DEA as El Chapo’s “high tech guy,” bodyguard and personal assistant, exposed his lies. Hoo Ramírez, who was arrested along with El Chapo on February 22 in the Mexican Pacific state of Sinaloa, confirmed to Mexican investigators that he and El Chapo used tunnels and sewers to move between safe houses. Hoo Ramírez, also known as El Candor, further revealed that Guzmán always had two planes on standby with pilots ready to fly him away on a minute’s notice and switched Blackberry cell phones every week.
Hoo Ramírez also spoke about El Chapo’s close connection to Rafael Caro Quintero, the infamous former leader of the Guadalajara cartel best known for ordering the 1985 assassination of DEA agent Enrique Camarena. Hoo Ramírez said that soon after Caro Quintero was released from prison on a legal technicality in 2013, El Chapo went to visit him at an undisclosed location. The U.S. has requested Caro Quintero’s arrest and extradition.
It’s not the first time Guzmán has refused to give information to the authorities. During the 13 years that he was behind bars he also kept his mouth shut. It’s possible that after Hoo Ramírez’s revelations, El Chapo was pressured into changing his fairy story and provided real information on the cartel’s operations and partners both in Mexico and the dozens countries where the Sinaloa Cartel operates. More so if the Mexican authorities offered him incentives in return.
Source: Forbes Business
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