Former Cellmates Tell of ‘El Chapo’s’ Humanitarian Side

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Journalist Karl Penhaul talks to former cellmates of Joaquin ‘El Chapo‘ Guzman about the fugitive drug lord’s character, and notorious escape from prison in 2001.

Based on interviews with former cellmates of Guzman, the article, published by Univision, paints a picture of life behind bars with the drug kingpin at Puente Grande prison, in the west Mexican state of Jalisco.

The men describe Guzman’s intellectual curiousity, his intuitive nature and, surprisingly, considering his nickname means “Shorty,” his skills on the basketball court.

Considered to be one of the world’s richest people, Guzman is depicted by his former cellmates as an ideological ally of the struggle against poverty and inequality. Martinez quotes the drug lord as saying he might have gotten involved in social justice issues if not for his success in drug trafficking.

Martinez was released before Guzman’s escape, said to have been carried out by hiding in a laundry basket. But the ex-prisoner told Penhaul that the break-out must have been an inside job, as “It was impossible to escape from that prison … the guards told us that not even they could open the final door. They said that was opened directly from the Interior Ministry.”

Martinez refers to Guzman as “a humanitarian” who used his power inside the prison to help others. However, considering that the powerful leader of the Sinaloa Cartel is thought to be one of the most powerful men in Mexico, it is not surprising they declined to criticize him.

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