El Chapo Guzman has access to DEA files

The Mexican Daily La Reforma has disclosed that the major players in the drug trade have access to top-secret files from the Mexican government and also the DEA.

The recent allegations highlight the power that the cartels have not only within Mexico but also in the US. The revelation will prove embarrassing to the US and Mexican government especially as the cartel which seems to have had most access to the secret files is headed by Joaquin Guzman Loera also known as “El Chapo” (Shorty), who has evaded capture for many years. The drug kingpin represents another Osama Bin Laden for US authorities, however unlike Bin Laden the reason he has managed to avoid arrest for so long is that he takes a large cut of the profits from the American illicit drug market. He has evaded capture since 2001 after escaping from a Mexican prison days before he was going to be extradited to the US on drug charges.

The extent to which Guzman knew about federal activities was revealed after Roberto Beltran Burgos was arrested in the Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state. Burgos had in his possession documents containing “information that only circulates among a few high-level officials in the government.” These included “descriptions of ranks and responsibilities, code names, e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers and the identification numbers for the Nextel radios used by the main federal armed forces support commanders.” The documents also contained reports that the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) provides to the Mexican government.

With information like this it is no wonder that Guzman – who has appeared in the Forbes most powerful people as well as the rich list – has managed to keep ahead of the authorities attempts to arrest him.

In the background to Arizona’s controversial new immigration laws - that give police the power to question and arrest anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant - the role that Arizona plays in the illegal drug trade is becoming more clear. Recent reports that show that the major cartels have been operating in Arizona for years. Tony Coulson a DEA agent stated last month that up to two million dollars - profits from the drug trade – cross the border into Mexico from Arizona every day. These vast quantities of money are what allow kingpins such as Guzman to avoid arrest as they are used to pay off everyone from politicians and federal police officers to US border guards.

The extent of corruption in the Mexican police force is well known and forms part of the justification for the use of the military in the war against the drug cartels. However recent reports have also shown that the cartels have also infiltrated the military. In a video that was released last month a man claiming to be a Mexican soldier is interrogated by members of the Gulf Cartel. He claims that he paid bi-weekly instalments by the Zetas - another cartel engaged in a fierce turf war with the Gulf Cartel - for information about military operations. He also claims that his superiors get paid more and that they provide military equipment and munitions to the cartel.

The scale of corruption amongst law enforcement, military and government personnel on both sides of the border highlights the fact that a victory in the “War on Drugs” is as distant as ever.

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