Mexican Navy personnel escort Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán in Mexico City, February 22, 2014.
Xinhua/David de la Paz via Getty Images
In 1998, while in a Mexican prison, “El Chapo” Guzmán contacted US officials, offering information in exchange for leniency.
DEA agents secretly met with the jailed kingpin, but the US government never took his offer.
As Guzmán rose to and fell from power over the next 20 years, the clandestine jailhouse meeting has remained largely unknown.
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Ciudad Juarez, MEXICO – In the late 1990s, Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán secretly tried from behind bars to cut a deal with the DEA to give up his rivals and get immunity in return.
Guzmán was jailed at the time but still in charge of the Sinaloa cartel. His attempt to make a deal with the US has remained largely unknown for more than 20 years.
According to New York-based journalist Noah Hurowitz, who covered Guzmán’s trial in the US and detailed Guzmán’s attempt to snitch in his new book, the kingpin offered information on the rival Arellano Felix and Beltran Leyva cartels and on his own partner, Hector “El Guero” Palma, in exchange for personal benefit.
In 1998, Guzmán was imprisoned in Puente Grande prison in southwestern Mexico when he sent a request through his brother-in-law to Joe Bond, a Mexican-American DEA agent stationed in Mexico City, asking to meet inside his prison cell.
“I learned about the meeting by court documents, and then I met with Joe Bond in Washington who showed me the internal report he wrote for the DEA after meeting ‘El Chapo,'” Hurowitz told Insider.
After covering Guzmán’s court hearings in Brooklyn in 2018 and 2019, Hurowitz traveled to La Tuna, Guzmán’s hometown in Sinaloa state, to speak to people who knew him before he became a legendary cartel figure.
Puente Grande prison in Mexico’s Jalisco state. It was closed in late 2020.
Mexico National Security Commission
Hurowitz found that “El Chapo” wanted to offer Bond detailed information, such as operations and names and whereabouts of rivals, in return providing for safety for his family and for dropping the charges against him in the US.
“The Arellano Felix, El Chapo warned, were in the practice of sending double agents to work as informants for the DEA and collect intel through their interactions with the gringos,” Hurowitz writes.
According to the book, the meeting – which included Jose Patiño, an official with the Mexican Attorney General’s office who facilitated the DEA agents’ entry into Puente Grande – lasted more than two hours.
Bond told Hurowitz that Guzmán was not expecting the meeting, as he and fellow agent Larry Villalobos had agreed to see him behind bars but didn’t say when they would visit.
Using fake IDs, they posed as sociologists who wanted to speak to “El Chapo” privately. It wasn’t until he entered the room that Bond revealed he was “Tito,” the secret name he had agreed to use for the meeting.
Bond introduced Patiño with his real name and told “El Chapo” they could fully trust …read more
Source:: Business Insider