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Drug trafficker to CBS News: Mexican cartels in U.S. are a "time bomb"

CHICAGO - Last year, CBS News correspondent Armen Keteyian interviewed a Chicago drug trafficker who worked closely with Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's Sinaloa cartel. The man, who we will call "Señor X," knows the methods, operations, and cruelty of the Sinaloa cartel, first hand. Only part of Keteyian's interview with Señor X was aired on 48 Hours "War in Chicago" program in May 2013. Señor X had more to say about the Sinaloa cartel.  

 After his capture last Saturday by Mexican Marines, Guzman is now at the Altiplano maximum security prison about 40 miles west of Mexico City.  This is not the first time Guzman has been in a Mexican maximum security prison. He spent six years in the Puente Grande lockup until he bribed his way out in 2001. Guzman then spent 13 years on the run.

Although U.S. authorities have begun taking the first legal steps to extradite Guzman to the United States, Mexican judge Luz Maria Ortega has issued a temporary restraining order against any further extradition proceedings. The order came after Chapo's sister, Bernarda Guzman, went to court on her brother's behalf.

Here is some of what Señor X told Armen Keteyian about the Sinaloa cartel's operations in Chicago.

According to Señor X, "In California, Chicago, (Sinaloa) is very strong... they know Chicago well. They know it's a good market for drugs. The people that they have here, they have a lot of trust in them. And they're a part of the organization.... The heroin is coming to Chicago, they're transporting it in small quantities... five, seven kilos."

Keteyian asked Señor X just how powerful is the Sinaloa cartel's influence is in Chicago? Señor X answered, "It's very strong and it's getting worse. There's people in Chicago who have a relationship with gang members. The cartel is, the cartels are, have direct contact now with the gang members... The cartels, for example, Sinaloa cartel recruit the gang members and now they have direct contact with the gang members in the United States. And the worst part of it is that they're armed. It's only a, it's a time bomb."

Keteyian then asked, the Chicago gangs - estimated to be 100,000 strong - are they doing the cartel's business? Señor X emphatically said yes, "They are one in the same."

Señor X explained to Keteyian where Chicago's heroin was coming from in Mexico and how the drug's potency has been boosted. Señor X said, "It's a better product, but they used to be a black heroin. Now they refined it more. It's, like the China white, but now it's China white, Mexican. They call it 'concrete.' And they bring a lot of heroin from Guerrero (Mexico). That's the place where they produce it more, and it's a better quality."

And the Sinaloa cartel is still in the marijuana business. They even buy from legal growers in the western United States, according to Señor X. He told Keteyian, "A lot of marijuana in California in the mountains. And here, in Chicago, as well. They're lookin' for places where they can cultivate it. And when it's ready, they cut it. In areas where it's legal, like Denver, there's many people that they're cultivating more, and they sell it to narco traffickers, so they can bring it to Chicago."

Señor X revealed to Keteyian that a few years ago, one of the Mexican cartels were told he became a police informant. He was kidnapped and taken to Mexico.

Señor X described his situation, "They picked me up and beat me. And they blindfolded me. And the people that kidnapped me had their faces covered. Where they took me, I imagine was a house, because I was inside. They were sayin' that I was collaborating with the police. Somebody had told them that I was denouncing people here in Chicago. I wasn't kidnapped for very long. Maybe three days. Without eating, without drinking, beating you, saying that they're killing people - hearing people screaming when they're beating them."

Señor X made it out alive after one of his kidnappers finally recognized that the starved and beaten Chicago drug trafficker was a friend of his. But Señor X knew that many of his fellow kidnap victims would never be freed. He heard many of them being tortured to death.

Señor X never disclosed to Keteyian which cartel kidnapped him. So it may have been Sinaloa or it may not have been Sinaloa. But Sinaloa and Chapo Guzman were in the killing business. Latin American media is reporting that after his capture, Guzman admitted to police that he had killed between 2,000 and 3,000 people.



  • Doug Longhini

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