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What El Chapo's Escape Means For Mexico

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, head of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, is escorted to a helicopter in Mexico City following his capture overnight in the beach resort town of Mazatlan, Feb. 22, 2014.
Associated Press
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, head of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, is escorted to a helicopter in Mexico City following his capture overnight in the beach resort town of Mazatlan, Feb. 22, 2014.
What El Chapo's Escape Means For Mexico
What El Chapo's Escape Means For Mexico
GUESTS: Ev Meade, director, University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute Alana Robinson, chief criminal division, U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

Our top story on the day addition, he could be hiding out in Mexico City, he could be heading for a state compound in Sinaloa, the only thing certain is Mexican authorities don't know where he is. El Chapo called the most powerful drug Lord is reacting as we can escape from a maximum security is an echo today the Mexican government released a picture with a shaven head and no mustache. And offered an almost $4 million reward for his capture. Besides being a major blow to the prestige of President. , a chapel escape poses questions about the continuing power of the drug cartels and what affect his escape will have on drug violence inside Mexico. Joining me is Alana Robinson, chief criminal division, U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California. Also we have Ev Meade, director, University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute. Alone, I have read reports saying the US Justice Department is various over El Chapo escape . How would you characterize the US reaction? Morning, we had an indictment against him since 1996 on charges of conspiracy to possess and import cocaine. We have been seeking his extradition going through diplomatic channels and following the treaty protocol. We're very hopeful that El Chapo would come and stand the charges here in San Diego so of course is disappointing . Did the US press for his extradition last year? Certainly the government told all porticos -- protocols in the treaty. Once those documents are with the government in Mexico, it is incumbent upon us to wait until their legal process on those results to be given to us. Tell us what he was indicted on here in the US. He was indicted on a charge of conspiracy to import and possess with intent to distribute large quantities of cocaine. The indictment alleges specifically that El Chapo used . Methods to import cocaine into the United states including tunnels. In 1993, law-enforcement found a partially completed tunnel here in our district that the government alleges was part of the cartel's efforts to bring large quantities of cocaine into the United States. Now that we're having a tunnel may have been the vehicle of escape that he used to get out of the prison and to go we don't know where. Alana, because of tran1's great wealth, because of his power inside Mexico his first escape back in 2001, did the US consider his escape a definite possibility? Certainly anything is possible in these types of circumstances we have a man with extensive wealth at his disposal as well as a large network of co-conspirators. We believe the Mexican government to do everything possible to avoid this. We stand by ready to assist them in any way they require us to request us to recapture El Chapo so he can face the charges here in the United dates and fitness -- finished his sentence. Have the Mexico government requested help from us? Resources being dedicated to this effort are interesting but better left to discuss another day. And, El Chapo has run a powerful drug cartel from the Mexican state of Sinaloa, what are you hearing from those people? The first reaction for some people is disbelief but for a lot of people it was kind of a snicker. Of course he did. In some places, there was a little regional pride go we heard rumors people were shooting guns and caring El Chapo science , I don't think that's the majority opinion at all. Very quickly that sort of snickering or making fun of the federal government in Mexico turn to reach and indignation. People can't believe that after 10 years of this, this one captain, the symbol of everything to do with the drug war in Mexico the the Mexican government could let him escape and that's turns to the darker side which is fear and uncertainty. People don't know what's going to happen next. They don't know if there's going to be a schism within the cartel, I knew better among the cartels or the Mexican government run roughshod over that town and hurt a lot of civilians and ordinary people in the process. I want you to talk to us more about this status of folk hero that El Chapo has among some people in that area. I think that's what a lot of Americans . A lot of media reports focus on people firing guns or singing songs about the escape of El Chapo. Where does that folk hero mythos come from? Part has a really long history. It's always been a state geographically isolated but very much in doubt into the rest of the wall. Its experience of the federal government in Mexico has often been as an invading force. Beginning in the 1940s it has been through wave after wave of drug eradication efforts. They also removed entire alleges. In some cases in the 1970s blues 2000 villages at once and destroyed the local economy. Into that voyage, these local people. El Chapo is a self-made man. To become the backbone of the local economy, there's no real alternative to them. They get celebrated that they are celebrated ironically. It's not meant to actually endorse all their various acts, there's a lot of selective memory that goes into that. We also don't have a whole lot of choice. If you live in one of these places, it doesn't mean you think tran1's Robin Hood, they run the place like a dictatorship. They are checkpoints going in and out. If you're not visibly supportive of them, they may suspect you. When they suspect people are enemies they have a quick response and that's kidnapping and torture and murder. Yes, there are some romantic myth is about it but that's not the majority opinion. A lot of people who end up going along with that is because they don't have a lot of choice in the matter. Some of the mythos is spilling over into rumor which have hurt. I want to talk about it for just a minute and Alana, your restricted in what you can say about certain things, chiming whenever you think you have something to add, I want to ask about rumors I have hurt by people about this story of El Chapo . There somehow believed he escaped to the tunnel but he did not actually escape through that tunnel, he probably bribed officials and was smuggled out of the prison. Is there any reason to believe that version of events? I can speak to matters that have been in Mexico last weekend. The charges against El Chapo dating to 1996 contain allegations of hybrid of Mexican officials in order to speak -- continue with their drug trafficking in illegal activity. I think that's just projecting what happened with his landscape about whether people -- whether he escaped the logic are walked out the front door. This particular facility had a lot of security. The tunnel system is a genius and losing currently elaborate and well done. It also appears to been started within a few weeks of his arrest. He also has this enormous team of lawyers and supporters working to get him out of this penitentiary by legal or extralegal means since he was picked up in February 2014. He's been meeting with the lawyer every day for 60 months, he's also been conspiring within the prison, there are two things he accomplished within the prison that no one can explain her current he led a hunger strike from isolation, that's incredibly difficult to do. The members of rival criminal organizations. In a similar effort he thought the letter signed by 138 of the inmates including arch enemies of his rival criminal organizations complain about prison conditions. They all signed the same document which is passed from each prisoner which suggests the guards were somehow colluding with them. It fits his image. One of the things that makes him a genius is he also wins over supporters. He is the seducer. This one sounds absurd. There are people who believe El Chapo was never in prison at all. The devil was arrested by authorities. Is no evidence to support that. I think the reason people want to believe this is that it seems so incredible he was captured without much of a security detail and on the script vacation rental on the fourth floor looking at the beach. That seemed incredible to people. If you think of it in the larger business scheme, durability 60 months later to bust him out of a maximum security prison it makes it -- makes more sense. They decided it wasn't worth the risk of going price for protection if he could be arrested and they could break out. It may be a distraction from the main sources of the cartel. There are a lot of ways you can parse that. The best way to look is not our these restrict why do people want to believe in? Alana, is the cartel a major drug supplier to the US? Yes that is not disputed. The efforts to bring this to justice have been vigorous and ongoing in the Southern District of California. The ports of entry here, the land border we have, the maritime passageway, the airways, the soft soil are all ways they have exploited to bring ton quantities of controlled substances into San Diego and throughout the rest of the United States. Has subsided any since his arrest? What I can tell you is the United States government in conjunction with Mexican officials have continued to discover what we call super tunnels. I think almost 6 last four or five years right in the old Mesa area which would indicate the flow of drugs continues in large quantity into San Diego and then out to the rest of the United States. As mentioned, some of the characteristics the reported in the media about the Mexican tunnel that was used by him to escape, it's interesting to note some of the tunnels discovered here back in 2010 and 11 had the same type of characteristics. These are what we would call super tunnels, their sophisticated in their design and their engineering. Have ventilation, lighting systems, sometimes rail systems. There are of course with wooden supports said they won't collapse. We allege those tunnels are tied to José Sanchez, a top cartel member. We have sought his extradition and we're waiting for that process to Apple. As you have probably heard, the efforts to prosecute and bring this cartel to justice have been ongoing in recent days and many high level cartel figures have been arrested and charged and many are currently here in San Diego. To US authorities fear that El Chapo will regain control or do you think he has never actually been out of control of that? I see huge grin on ad space. I think the letter is probably a better perception. There was a lot of chatter that perhaps there had been a pleasure in the cartel, the more reports we get about who is sitting him in the present, now indicates if he had wanted to, he still had command-and-control over the cartel. The fact that they can mobilize the resources to carry out this escape attempt is further evidence of that. The only good news that might come out of that is it might suggest it's not going to unleash a wave of instability in the cartel and therefore violence. But we really don't know. My final question is a follow-up on something you said about the rage people are feeling. There's a lot of talk about what an embarrassment this is to the government. This is also an embarrassment for the Mexican people. Are they suffering under a reputation that their nation is flawless and uncontrollable and don't incidence like this allow people to exploit that? Industry. I think both sides are two. For one, the way the government response, by going on Asian tour, here you have the escape of the century, what could be a colossal embarrassment and the president took a tour to France. The something tone deaf about that. They call him the teller present day because he looks good in front of the cameras but in the real works the government, he is absent. On the flipside, I think it's true that we don't explain it. I think the majority of addictions are Mexico. Is true they moved 80% of the cocaine to the United States and have presence here. Compared to the wave of violence they have brought in Mexico, there's no comparison. It's a different reality. They have the subverted institutions of the rule of law widely across Mexico. They made it difficult to live in the society. They turned it into a place that's now in the bottom 12% of the global peace Index. That's two people in Mexico is an embarrassment. I want to thank you both. I've been speaking to Ev Meade, director, University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute and Alana Robinson, chief criminal division, U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California thank you both very much.

As the international manhunt continues for the man who may be the world’s most powerful drug lord, the Mexican government announced Monday a $3.8 million reward for Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman’s recapture.

Authorities say he escaped from prison over the weekend, after spending just over a year behind bars. He escaped through an elaborate mile-long tunnel leading outside of the maximum security facility.

El Chapo's disappearing act is described as a major blow to President Enrique Peña Nieto. But it also raises questions about the continuing power of the drug cartels and what effect it will have on drug violence inside Mexico.

Alana Robinson from the U.S. Attorney's Office said the United States tried to extradite Guzman when he was arrested in February because he was wanted on drug charges here. She said that request was still pending when Guzman escaped.

Ev Meade, the director of University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute, said people in Mexico are now snickering over Guzman's latest escape.

"It's an almost ironic celebration of the fact that he showed the ineffectiveness of the Mexican government once again," Meade said. "But that very quickly turns to outrage and indignation. People feel like this is a national shame, that a country that has great hopes for itself has not achieved what it wants to achieve regarding citizenship and democracy."

He said people also feel uncertainty and fear over whether violence will increase in Sinaloa, Mexico.

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