With ‘El Chapo’ Likely in Prison For Life, Attention Turns Toward Brother

The trial of murderous drug possession criminal and drug trafficker Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman Loera wrapped up last week in federal court in New York City. But federal agents are on the job in a deep investigation of his brother and the Sinaloa Cartel in Arizona.

‘El Chapo’ Guzman is waiting for sentencing after he was convicted on many federal drug trafficking and other charges related to operating the cartel. Federal agents think his brother Aureliano Guzman - called ‘El Guano’ -  is running a large drug trafficking outfit in Arizona, Texas and Northern Mexico, according to federal documents that were filed in Tucson in US District Court. (Azcentral.com).

Federal judges in Arizona have approved dozens of federal applications to collect information on calls and messages to cell phones and Blackberry devices. They also have targeted WhatsApp accounts that they think are tied to the Aureliano Guzman-Loera, aka Guano drug-trafficking organization, per records that were found by the Arizona Daily Star at the courthouse in Tucson, Arizona.

The applications were filed by US prosecutors for Homeland Security Investigations and were unsealed several months later. They describe the extensive smuggling of drugs from Mexico to Arizona and Texas, as well as moving narcotics deeper in the US.

El Chapo’s Brother Still Not in Custody

According to Homeland Security Investigations special agents, Aureliano Guzman Loera, who has not yet been arrested, uses a Blackberry device to talk about high level Sinaloa drug cartel business. A judge has allowed federal agents to collect data on the calls and messages that are connected to that Blackberry. It is suspected he is deeply involved in money laundering, conspiracy and drug trafficking, among other federal charges.

Another member of the Guano drug trafficking group had many communications with a large US bank, according to federal records. Another member of the cartel used a Blackberry to talk about meetings with the Mexican military and various drug trafficking operations.

Another application stated that a Guano member was using a Blackberry to give information on other drug cartels and enforcement on behalf of the cartel. Other applications further stated that Blackberry devices and WhatsApp accounts were used in the drug cultivation process and moving the drugs throughout Mexico.

Homeland Security Investigations Office in Nogales Gets Credit for El Chapo

After El Chapo was convicted, the HSI office based in Nogales was credited by the DEA and others in the federal government for bringing the notorious drug trafficker to justice. It was reported the Nogales team collected at least one million Blackberry messages that were sent among various people in El Chapo’s organization, per a New York Times report.

Since El Chapo was arrested in early 2016, questions have been asked about who is now running the huge Sinaloa Cartel. Some suspect it’s brother Guzman, but others say the major player for the cartel is Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada. He has allegedly helped to operate the cartel since it was founded in the 1980s, according to the Associated Press. But in August, a writer for the Mexican paper El Universal said that Mayo is not a key player; El Guano is actually the boss of the cartel now. Other media outlets have stated that El Chapo’s sons are actually driving the cartel.

El Chapo Trial Revealed Details on Daring Escapes

While federal agents continue to focus on bringing El Chapo’s brother to justice, the recent trial that put El Chapo away revealed interesting details about his two escapes from prison. (businessinsider.com).

During the trial in January 2019, Damasco Lopez Nunez went before the jury to testify. He was at first a security officer for Sinaloa before he became the deputy security director at Puente Grande Prison in Mexico.

He told the court during his testimony that he first met Guzman at the prison in 1999. He noted that he resigned in 2000, and decided to exit when the Mexican government started a corruption probe. Guzman called him soon after that, and wanted to get help to keep the privileges he had gotten through bribing prison workers and guards.

It has been suspected for years that Lopez helped El Chapo to escape. It is also believed that criminal was snuck out of the prison in a laundry cart, but others have disputed this story. On the witness stand, Lopez totally denied he was involved in the January 2001 escape. But he did say there was a laundry cart involved.

Lopez testified that the only person who was involved with the escape was Chito, who was a worker in the laundry. Supposedly, Chito took Guzman in a laundry cart that was picking up the dirty laundry and took him into the parking lot. There he was put in the trunk of a car.

Lopez said on the stand that El Chapo told more about the escape several months later when he was holed up on the mountains near Nayarit. He said the criminal told him the plan for his escape was very spontaneous. This was because some friends of his in the federal government said that an extradition order had been released.

After that, Guzman gave Lopez employment, and over the next 10 years, Lopez was involved in the drug cartel’s operations, such as his effort to get Guzman out of prison in early 2015. Lopez testified that he met with Guzman’s wife and sons in early 2014, just a few months after El Chapo was recaptured.

During this meeting, they talked about buying a tract of land near the Altiplano prison where Guzman was then being held. His wife allegedly told Lopez that Guzman wanted him to buy guns and an armored car to break out.

It took several months to dig a tunnel a mile long under the jail; Guzman said he could hear the excavation noise in his cell. It was so loud that many other inmates complained. The daring second escape from prison was on that mile long, ventilated tunnel on a motorcycle that was on rails, garnering attention around the world.

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