In a move that immediately left many on both sides of the border scratching their heads, Mexico yesterday transferred infamous drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán — who has twice escaped from maximum-security lockups — to a less secure prison in an area dominated by his Sinaloa cartel.
Among those caught by surprise were U.S. officials seeking extradition and a lengthy stay in a Supermax facility for Guzmán, who had fought being sent north until recently, when his confinement at Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1 (a.k.a. Altiplano prison), near Mexico City, began to grate. Complaining of sleepless nights, barking guard dogs and even bullying, he pushed for extradition in hope of getting some shuteye.
His transfer to Cefereso No. 9, a prison on the outskirts of Ciudad Juárez and across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, was initially viewed by the Mexican media as a first step toward getting him onto U.S. soil, but Mexican authorities were quick to deny any such intent.
In the meantime, no worries, prison officials insist, for he’ll be confined to a maximum-security wing and his every move monitored 24/7.
Still, the head scratching goes on. As ex-D.E.A. official Michael Vigil put it: “It just doesn’t make any sense. He has that part of his empire, he has the infrastructure there, and he has people who would assist him in terms of engineering . . . another escape.”
In “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” Stephen King wrote: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on both of us.”
He obviously wasn’t thinking of El Chapo, who has given no indication that shame is even in his playbook.