Photo: Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzma
The arrest of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman was made by marines responding to a request for assistance from a civilian, press reports said Wednesday.
Guzman, the world’s most notorious and powerful drug trafficker, was arrested on Feb. 22 at a building in Mazatlan, a port city in the northwestern state of Sinaloa.
Two marines said in official statements that a thin man asked a patrol for help after spotting a heavily armed man at an apartment building, the daily Excelsior reported.
“I, who was riding shotgun, asked him what he wanted, to which he responded that he had seen an armed person inside the apartment tower called Miramar a few minutes earlier, that he was scared and wanted help from us desperately,” one of the marines said.
The marines, according to the statements, entered the building and encountered a man carrying a rifle with a grenade launcher outside apartment 401.
The man, later identified as Carlos Manuel Hoo Ramirez, pointed the weapon at the marines and they convinced him to drop it, the marines said.
Hoo Ramirez, who worked as Guzman’s bodyguard and assistant, told the marines there was an arsenal inside the apartment.
“Just then, Chapo came out of another room and he was arrested,” the newspaper said.
The bodyguard, however, said in his statement that the Sinaloa cartel leader was asleep when the marines entered the apartment and that he never pointed his weapon at the marines because he did not have time to do so.
The official version of events is that the 56-year-old Guzman was captured thanks to a detailed investigation and the tracking of his telephones with U.S. assistance.
“This arrest was the product of an operation that lasted several months and involved wide coordination between all the branches of the federal government ... and the arrest was impeccably carried out by members of the Navy Secretariat,” Attorney General Jesus Murillo told reporters on the day of the arrest.
Mexican security and law enforcement agencies worked together on the operation and there was “also very full (coordination) with some U.S. agencies,” the attorney general said.
Guzman’s bodyguard has provided investigators with extensive information about the Sinaloa cartel’s structure and smuggling routes, as well as about people on the criminal organization’s payroll, Excelsior said.