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‘El Chapo’ Guzman killed in Guatemala?

February 22, 2013


Rumors of the death of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman circulated on Thursday, following reports that Mexico’s most wanted drug lord may have been killed in a firefight in Guatemala.

“We can’t be sure, it could be (El Chapo),” Guatemala’s Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla said on Thursday night.

Government spokesman Francisco Cuevas told Guatemalan television that at least two men died in a shootout between rival gangs near San Francisco in the Peten region of northern Guatemala. One of the victims is said to resemble Guzman and Guatemalan and Mexican authorities are reportedly attempting to identify him using fingerprints and photographic evidence.

However, Cuevas later told Mexican media outlet Milenio that there had been some confusion and he could no longer confirm that there had been a shootout or that authorities were in possession of any bodies.

“I apologise if where was a misunderstanding,” Lopez told the Guatemalan media on Friday, declaring that the original account was based on testimony from residents of San Valentin, a small town near the Mexican border.

“It was a mix-up. We were referring to information generated from the area that there was possibly a crime scene with a dead person resembling El Chapo,” Lopez said. “As of now, we have no verification.”

Earlier this week, Mexican daily Excelsior reported that WikiLeaks had published emails from U.S. private intelligence firm Stratfor speculating that Guzman was located in El Peten.

“We believe that El Chapo is currently hiding in El Peten, Guatemala, near the border with Mexico” wrote a Stratfor analyst. However, the emails date back to 2011 and were originally released by WikiLeaks in February 2012.

A fugitive billionaire, Guzman is the head of Mexico’s most powerful cartel, the Sinaloa Federation. This is not the first time his death has been rumored and there will be plenty of scepticism in Mexico until he is conclusively proved to be dead.

The latest rumors come less than two weeks after Guzman’s chief of security Francisco Javier Rodriguez Picante, also known as Jonathan Salas Aviles or “El Fantasma,” (“The Ghost”) was arrested in Sinaloa.

Guzman was previously arrested in Guatemala in 1993, spending eight years in jail before escaping — legend has it he was wheeled out in a laundry cart — from the maximum security Puente Grande prison just outside Guadalajara in 2001.

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