El Chapo & Sean Penn: there’s something not quite right in this story

Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, El Chapo & Sean Penn

There’s something not quite right when a Hollywood movie star can find drug lord El Chapo hiding in Mexico & the combined force of the US Drug Enforcement Agency & Mexican Federal Police cannot. Maybe that’s because international drug trafficking is a multi-trillion operation involving law enforcement, the CIA, banks, & governments–including both the Mexican & US governments. Those aren’t reckless assertions. There are decades of evidential material, litigation, high-level investigations, & research. “The Politics of Heroin” by Alfred W. McCoy, first published in 1972, remains the standard analysis of how it’s all interwoven.

El Chapo is known for making his tale of rise to drug lord a maudlin rags to riches story. There’s too much brutality & homicide involved to tug at my heart strings. Lots of people grow up dirt poor in Mexico but most don’t become killing machines & drug peddlers justifying social devastation because life was tough when you were a kid. That’s the antisocial way of doing things. Most people even from the worst of circumstances try to make their lives worth while & not a social scourge.

It’s not clear, at least to me, where El Chapo fits into high-level drug trafficking or if he’ll make his third escape from a high-security prison. But if the charges against him stick this time & they can keep him locked up, it’s only because he’s outworn his usefulness or has become competition in the high stakes game of international drug trafficking.

(Photo of Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, El Chapo & Sean Penn from Rolling Stone)