Today, he runs the biggest international drug cartel the world has ever known, exceeding even that of Pablo Escobar. The same El Chapo Guzman who only two months earlier had humiliated the Peña Nieto government and stunned the world with his extraordinary escape from Altiplano maximum-security prison through an impeccably engineered mile-long tunnel. What is it that removes all doubt from a man's eyes? There is the pervasive feeling that if there were a threat, they would know it. He is interested in the movie business and how it works. The P&L high side doesn't add up to the downside risk for him. " I'm curious, in the current pandemonium of the Middle East, what impact those frenzied opiate economies may have on his business. I explain that, for authentication purposes, it would be best if we are shaking hands, looking into the camera, but not smiling. As thoughts of surveillance drones and military raids come back into my head, I re-engage the tequila and scan 360 degrees for where I and my colleagues may lay flat and find cover should we have been followed and a raid initiated. I hoped we would meet at my ranch and you could meet my mother. But something came up and we had to change the plan." I assume he was insinuating inside information that the ranch had again come under observation by authorities. We follow him to where the family who had cooked our dinner stands dutifully behind a serving table.
He shops and ships by some estimates more than half of all the cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana that come into the United States. Beneath his smile, there is a doubtlessness to his facial expression. He suggests to us that we consider switching our career paths to the oil business. I ask him, "Of all the countries and cultures with whom you do business, which is the most difficult? In the darkness, it was difficult to imagine a safe place, and El Chapo's world is anything but. It has been several hours, and El Alto and I share a nod indicating our mutual sense: the core of soldiers around El Chapo are getting fidgety. He takes each of them by the hand graciously; giving them thanks, and with a look, he invites us to do the same.
A source familiar with the cartel informed me on October 3rd that the initial siege had begun.
Espinoza and I have traveled many roads together, but none as unpredictable as the one we are now approaching. Whether he's standing in the midst of a slum, a jungle or a battlefield, his idiosyncratic elegance, mischievous smile and self-effacing charm have a way of defusing threat. Finally a respite from the cyber technology that's been sizzling my brain and soul.
Pope Francis blazed a trail and left town two days before. Regis Hotel with my colleague and brother in arms, Espinoza.
By the time news agencies broadcast the story in the United States, the mayhem throughout Sinaloa in those days had been essentially reduced to a nearly successful raid that had surgically targeted only Chapo and his men, and claimed he had been injured in flight with face and leg wounds.
El Chapo's own account would later be shared with me, through a BBM exchange he had with Kate. Two helicopters and 6 Black Hawks began a confrontation upon their arrival. The families had to escape and abandon their homes with the fear of being killed.