"El Chapo" Guzman after his February arrest

Captured Sinaloa Cartel leader "El Chapo" Guzman has reportedly banded together with rival "La Barbie" to organize a hunger strike from his isolation cell, suggesting the kingpin does not enjoy the run of the prison granted him by corrupt authorities during his last stint behind bars.

According to a Proceso report by journalist Anabel Hernandez -- author of bestselling book "Los Señores del Narco" -- Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias "El Chapo," has organized nearly 1,000 prisoners from five wings of the Altiplano maximum security prison in Mexico State to stop eating in protest of alleged violations of their human rights.

To coordinate the strike he sought out the help of former Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) leader Edgar Valdez Villareal, alias "La Barbie," who is also locked up in solitary confinement, according to Hernandez. 

Among the complaints made by the prisoners, who have reportedly been on strike since July 16, are that they are not allowed to access personal hygiene items brought by their families, that they have been denied medical attention, their prison uniforms are not washed regularly and visiting and phone rights are not respected. 

InSight Crime Analysis

El Chapo and La Barbie have been rivals since former allies the Sinaloa Cartel and BLO split acrimoniously in 2008. However, it appears that any hard feelings have not been enough to stop the two men from coordinating activities since Chapo's February arrest and subsequent imprisonment.

SEE ALSO: El Chapo Profile

This is not the first time La Barbie -- who has been held in Altiplano since 2010 -- has made a show by holding a hunger strike, though an attempt in 2011 reportedly failed to exclude non-perishable items from his diet, and did not involve other prisoners.

The drug lords' current initiative stands in contrast to Chapo's first spell in prison, which began in 1993, when he was able to pay off virtually the entire prison staff so that he could maintain a lavish lifestyle, and according to Hernandez's investigations, bribed staff to smuggle him out of the facilities. 

Nonetheless, while Chapo may no longer hold the reins of power in prison, the fact that two major drug lords held in solitary confinement have found a way to coordinate a nearly 1,000 man hunger strike is evidence they are still powerful figures in the prison and maintain the capacity to overcome rules and regulations. 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network. The BACRIM's roots lie in the demobilized paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy. Unlike their paramilitary and drug cartel predecessors, the BACRIM maintain a diversified...