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Arrest Of Sinaloa Kingpin "El Chapo" Won't Reduce Drug Trafficking Through San Diego

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February 25, 2014 1:16 p.m.


Octavio Rodriguez, the Justice in Mexico Project coordinator at the University of San Diego.

Victor Clark Alfaro, Director, Binational Center for Human Rights in Tijuana and a lecturer for the Center for Latin American Studies at San Diego State University

Related Story: Arrest Of Sinaloa Kingpin "El Chapo" Won't Reduce Drug Trafficking Through San Diego


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Our top story on Midday Edition, since the weekend arrest of the Mexican drug lord El Chapo Guzm·n law enforcement efficient officials have been lighting up to press his expedition. In New York they want to try the men and their jurisdictions. US Attorney Laura Duffy says that his arrest is very meaningful development for law enforcement in San Diego and around the world. Whether El Chapo will ever answer for suspected crimes in the US is still an open question. As this is paid Mexico, where he has been sentenced for prison was before escape to live free for thirteen years. I would like to welcome my guests Octavio Rodriguez and Victor Clark Alfaro. Welcome to the show. We've heard the name over and over the past few days, who is El Chapo?

OCTAVIO RODRIGUEZ: He was the head of the most powerful criminal organization in Mexico, and probably in these Western Hemisphere. He is responsible for a large amount of the drugs consumed in the United States but also to other crimes committed in Mexico such as extortionate killing in kidnapping. He is a legendary figure of drug trafficking and organized crime in Mexico, probably the most important figure in the last twenty years.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Are you surprised by the news that he was captured?

VICTOR CLARK ALFARO: I was surprised was captured if I could never be captured knowing that he already for thirteen years continued as a drug cartel, I was impressed that we have to remember with the former president information in support of the US he was finally arrested.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: But you did not expect him to ever be arrested?

VICTOR CLARK ALFARO: Knowing how drug traffickers move I know that in some moments will be directed but it was a surprise that suddenly the government and the US announced that our government captured him, I was surprised.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Octavio, you said that this was the biggest accomplishment since the 1980s of the Mexican government, why do you categorize it that way?

OCTAVIO RODRIGUEZ: During the last couple of years the government had not been capturing important leaders of criminal organizations, and that was very important, but El Chapo himself is a major figure and because of that we talk about this legendary cartel figures such as that is way think he worked for this old generation of drug traffickers and take into consideration.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So you are surprised as well?

OCTAVIO RODRIGUEZ: Yes I was surprise as well as expecting a major blow this week, but I was not expecting El Chapo.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Why were you expecting a major major blow?

OCTAVIO RODRIGUEZ: The peak you are started in operation in [ CHECK AUDIO ] and that was not normal, the government was performing operations but that was put the deployment of troops in QuÈbec on and be captured important leaders close to the circle and I thought they would find them but I was not expecting El Chapo.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Octavio told us about the importance and industriousness of the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico, what are the connections between the Sinaloa drug cartel and Tijuana and the city of the region?

VICTOR CLARK ALFARO: You mentioned Quintana was under the control of the Arellano brothers cartel and we had the leaders of this group could have lost control of the drug trafficking disarming, and since 2000 we begin to observe the Cinderella cartel first began to control drug trafficking through to Calexico, since 2006 2007, we begin to know that the Cinderella cartel was already deployed, the same time that the Arellano brothers were losing their historical leaders and with a group diminished their importance finally the Cinderella cartel gets monopoly of the business and there is a strong connection, and I also want to remember that in the state so far in Arizona and California that is where the majority of that is being found, at least 120 have been found in both states, in California and Sinaloa connected to Mexico, and El Chapo became like a key king for the system of the drug cartel getting to the US.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We invited Laura Duffy to be on the program and she declined but she said Guzm·n raved over a multibillion-dollar drug that my Empire those responsible for, steps and under his leadership the Sinaloa cartel has moved tons of drugs through the international border in his district and her entire statement is on the website at Out of you, as sick significant as this arrest is, it's not as I understand expected to result in less drugs being smuggled into the US, is that right?

OCTAVIO RODRIGUEZ: Of course, this capture is important, because of who he is. However, the operation of this in a little cartel I will not expect that operation to be affected that much, as I mentioned in a couple of other interviews, if we have demand we will still have supply, this particular arrest will affect the organization of course, but you won't translate in less drugs coming to the United States and will probably see some spikes in violence and will probably see that, but also it's not clear if that would be much more violence south of the border with this capture, at least not so far it's very too immature to draw conclusions.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Because you talk about spikes in violence we have seen another times in which a cartel has been busted or leader arrested because the driver rival cartels see weakness and start and enter war, I'm wondering will we see the kinds of violence again that we saw the drug cartels were at war with each other?

OCTAVIO RODRIGUEZ: It's truly saved in the past with the kingpin is arrested BC spikes in changing chance of violence, but last year for example when the government captured the leader of the set this we did not see that much increasing violence----and in this case I think similarly is a very strong organization and they could manage to restructure themselves without much more of a violent spike however, in some regions and small regions will see smaller organizations trying to control less amounts of small territories, I would not see whites bred violence occurring in the next couple months

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Victor, specifically in Tijuana and Paula Baja California you think El Chapo's arrest will have any effect on how the cartel controls Baja?

VICTOR CLARK ALFARO: I know the ones that hit the leadership of the cartel and California we have to remember that the Sinaloa cartel had a recent leadership that induced El Chapo Guzm·n was the most biggest figure and also together in California the one who controls the operation until now until the rest of El Chapo, the gangs that sold drugs from the street and the Sinaloa cartel it's belonging to the Arellano brothers in that group, we see in decreasing risk and related to these drugs until now we have not seen any indication that problems will rouse, arise, is difficult to say but we do that he is the one that controlled the Peninsula and Tijuana.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In light of what you're saying, at least this potential for increased violence into one and Baja, Howard Tijuana people respond to his arrest?

OCTAVIO RODRIGUEZ: I saw different comments also the web, comments that are related to the intervention of the US and making jokes that the area now operation in the US and Mexico only sheer the authors of the American government putting all the infrastructure in the Mexican jails went to arrest, these men and others doubt that this is actually El Chabot, they say it is actually another person, but this is also part of the claim of what the government will do.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Octavio, El Chapo faces charges in Mexico and in the United States here in San Diego also would like to try him for suspected offenses, you expect that he is going to stay in Mexico and recent despair or DC ship eventually being exited the US?

OCTAVIO RODRIGUEZ: First we have to remember that he was already sentenced and was already in prison and escape from prison and he hasn't pending sentenced to compile it, also I would say that the Mexican government would like to try and prosecute him in Mexico, and make him stay in Mexico and it's a big message that the government will try to send, I would expect all Chabot staying in Mexico at least for a couple of years till he is extradited.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: A lot of people on the side of the border say that he escaped from a base can visit once. And from that again? Do you have any assurances? Other people who know the disguise that this guy is going to be incarcerated in a different way?

OCTAVIO RODRIGUEZ: And there's no evidence that the Mexican prison system has advanced or that it has more security now than thirteen euros ago, but we are talking about a Chabot and I don't see the Mexican government that it does happen again. It is that he is what he is, he is a big success that the administration has had in terms of security, applied you not think and I do not see a big risk of him escaping again.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Victor, the me ask you, this is a tough question but let me hear what your thoughts are on this, we have been hearing from multiple sources including both of you that El Chapo's arrest will really have any significant effect on the Sinaloa cartel or the flow of Jackson's United States, would you think would have an effect?

VICTOR CLARK ALFARO: What you think it would affect?


VICTOR CLARK ALFARO: On the ground, nothing has happened right now. But why when I will expect is that the complete success of the Mexican government in American government in racing his name, I think that the Break up the financial and political systems and have helped him to build important, US banks depend on these activities, so far they've mentioned nothing and I'm thinking about important politicians in both protecting this activity of the Sinaloa, this may be in Mexico but we have here we don't see any indication of that, for me this is not a complete success, the government does not go this order, until now in our society nothing has changed I don't see that the price of drugs on the border has increased the consequence of less drugs on the market, I don't think those kinds of impacts on our society until now.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I am out of time, I will have to leave it there, I have been speaking with Victor Alfaro and Octavio Rodriguez. Thank you both very much.