Did Wikileaks Help Kill the World's Most Powerful Drug Lord?

Alexander Abad-Santos
View photos

Guatemalan officials are still trying to confirm if Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzman, one of the world's most powerful drug lord, died during a gunfight in Peten, Guatemala near the Mexican border.

"Residents who witnessed the clashes have told authorities that one of the two dead men resembled the Mexican drug baron," reports Sky News, while The Los Angeles Times reported late last night that forensic teams were headed to Peten to get confirmation of Guzman's death. There are conflicting reports from the Guatemalan government whether bodies were actually found on the scene. 

Whatever the case may be, there's a curious Wikileaks wrinkle to this case. Earlier this week, Mexico's Excelsior paper had reported the Wikileaks published an e-mail revealing Guzman's location. Based on the quotes they used, they're referring to this email message from someone at the Stratfor intelligence firm:

View photos

The problem is that Excelsior reported the e-mail like it was fresh news, while Wikileaks says that they published this e-mail in February of 2012. As The Los Angeles Times points out, it's common knowledge that Guzman makes his hideout in Peten. What's probably more telling than the fortuitous timing and possibly bad reporting of Excelsior, is that the Mexican military caught Guzman's right hand man earlier this month. On February 11, they caught Francisco Javier Rodriguez (a.k.a Jonathan Salas Aviles, a.k.a. the "ghost" of Chapo), the head of his security team. 

Bottom line if Guzman is indeed dead, it's more coincidence and timing of those Wikileaks e-mails and perhaps some bad reporting from Excelsior—not that Julian Assange wouldn't mind the press. 

Whatever the status of Guzman, authorities really want this guy out of commission  To give you an idea of how "wanted" Guzman is, he's the kingpin of the oldest and one of the most powerful drug cartels you'll find in Mexico: the Sinaloa cartel. This past week, Chicago's crime commission named him their Public Enemy No. 1. and said he is more menacing than Al Capone. "What Al Capone was to beer and whiskey during Prohibition, Guzman is to narcotics ...Of the two, Guzman is by far the greater threat. ... And he has more power and financial capability than Capone ever dreamed of," said Art Bilek, the commission's executive vice president, There's currently a $5 million bounty on his head, reports the LA Times.