Updated 08:40 PM EST, Wed, Jan 20, 2021

El Chapo a 'Dead' Man, Says Former Assassin for Drug Kingpin Pablo Escobar

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One of the assassins responsible for Pablo Escobar's death believes that Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman would let himself die before surrendering to the police.

Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, alias "Popeye," insisted in an interview with the Mexican news magazine Proceso that El Chapo would not be imprisoned, but killed, should police authorities get to him.

"El Chapo is a dead man," Popeye said, Business Insider reported from Proceso. "He knows he has to be killed, because if they capture him alive, they will extradite him to the US. And he will not tolerate a high-security prison in the US. There the food they give [is eaten with] a straw, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Nobody talks to you; there is no human contact. If somebody sends you a letter, they show it to you on a television screen."

El Chapo escaped the Altiplano Federal Prison in July using a sophisticated underground tunnel. According to Popeye, the drug kingpin could be tracked "through a joint effort between uncorrupted police and military forces, American agents, and cooperative criminal elements," adding that it will take 16 to 18 months for Mexican authorities to find El Chapo, Business Insider wrote.

Popeye's suggested time period would be able to track down the Sinaloa cartel leader's finances, family network, and security apparatus. Popeye said that the work will proceed "by millimeters," "but what they give to him, they give to him, because it is a political matter for the Mexican government. Of honor," the news outlet noted.

Mexican journalist Anabel Hernandez said that El Chapo conducted business and personal matters in his Altiplano prison cell, NBC News reported. He added that three attorneys and a chauffeur, who pretended to be a lawyer, performed different duties so that El Chapo can still lead the Sinaloa cartel from prison.

Daily Mail reported in July that El Chapo was treated with "great respect" by guards, who called the drug lord "Don Joaquin" and "Lord." He also had privileges, and was the only prisoner in Altiplano with a cell phone.

Many have believed that El Chapo assumed Escobar's position in the drug trade, given that his cartel has a global reach and is reportedly supplying cocaine to Europe and the Middle East, Business Insider wrote. Escobar ran Colombia's Medellin cartel in the 1980s and 1990s. In the height of its power, the cartel was responsible for the deaths of government officials, police officers, prosecutors, judges, journalists, and innocent bystanders.

In 2013, the DEA said that El Chapo's group earned $3 billion a year by routing drugs to the Chicago region of the U.S., Business Insider added. The cartel is also in control of 35% of the cocaine coming out of Colombia.

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