The son of a prominent Mexican drug cartel leader has escaped prison less than two months after being captured, highlighting the country’s inability to keep criminals behind bars.
Juan José Esparragoza Monzón, alias “El Negro,” escaped from a Sinaloan state penitentiary in Culiacán on March 16, reported Animal Politico. Esparragoza Monzón is the son of Juan Esparragoza Moreno, known as “El Azul,” a powerful leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, the drug trafficking organization formerly led by the legendary kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán who extradited to the United States in January.
Authorities believe Esparragoza Monzón has been working for the Sinaloa cartel for the past twenty years, under the instructions of his father. Reports indicate that El Azul has personally mediated some of the violent feuds between drug clans in the country, while his son allegedly worked as a financial operator for the cartel and was responsible for managing one of the group’s drug trafficking routes, Animal Politico was told.
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Esparragoza Monzón was captured on January 19, 2017. His name figured in the list of the government’s 122 most wanted criminals, yet he managed to escape maximum security detention by successfully appealing to a federal district judge.
Security forces are currently trying to locate the fugitive, and the four other convicts who escaped with him.
InSight Crime Analysis
Esparragoza Monzón’s prison break shows further evidence that Mexican authorities are unable to guarantee criminals will serve the sentences they are given.
The fact that El Negro allegedly appeared on the government’s hit-list and was nonetheless allowed to escape maximum security poses serious questions about whether or not Mexico’s judicial system is up to its task. Commenting on the appeal made by Esparragoza Monzón to the district judge, the governor of Sinaloa, Gonzalo Gómez Flores, acknowledged the need to “revise the criteria with which these permissions are granted [to prisoners].”
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His escape also lends more credit to the argument that Mexico should extradite high profile criminals to the United States to face justice.
To be sure, Esparragoza Monzón’s prison break is not the first to be recorded in the country, and certainly not the most famous. Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was sent to prison three times and escaped twice, first in 2001 and then in 2015, via a tunnel built underneath his cell in the Altiplano maximum security penitentiary. Authorities resisted extraditing the kingpin after his first capture, but handed him over in January this year after his second escape proved one of the biggest embarassments so far for President Enrique Peña Nieto.