As the billionaire head of the Sinaloa Cartel, El Chapo was used to paying exorbitant prices for everything he wanted. But even the mighty crime boss flinched when he was forced to shell out $500,000 for a pair of long johns.
The thermal bottoms were intended for his son, Ivan Guzmán Salazar, who was serving a three-year sentence for money laundering at the maximum security prison of La Palma (Altiplano) where his father himself had once been incarcerated in the early 1990s.
In the winter of 2007-2008, Ivan’s cell was so cold he asked through various intermediaries — “a corruption pipeline” — to get his father (real name: Joaquín Guzmán Loera) to send the underwear.
Ivan had relied on his dad in the past. In 2005, when he was arrested with three others and charged with double homicide in Jalisco state, he only faced accusations of money laundering “thanks to lawyers hired by El Chapo,” writes Mexican journalist Anabel Hernandez in her new book “Emma and the Other Narco Women” (Grijalbo Publishing), out Jan. 25.
A few years later, when Ivan needed to keep warm in prison, El Chapo asked one of his fellow drug traffickers — Edgar “the Barbie” Valdez Villareal — to find out who he had to bribe at the maximum security prison to get his son some warm layers.
“With one phone call, one of the soldiers found the right person,” writes Hernandez. “A guard at the prison could get the clothing to his son.”
The guard charged $100,000 for the favor, but out of greed the two soldiers who had made the contact decided to ask El Chapo for five times the amount. They offered to cut the Barbie in on the deal, but “because he knew who he was dealing with,” Barbie declined the offer, writes Hernandez.
El Chapo paid the full $500k to get his son a couple of T-shirts and thermal underwear, but then he began to investigate. When the Barbie told him what the soldiers had done, the Sinaloa leader dispatched a hit squad. The two men were tortured and killed, their bodies quartered and left on the outskirts of Mexico City’s international airport, according to Hernandez.
A few months later, Ivan was released but another son, Edgar Guzmán Lopez, was gunned down in a hail of bullets. The hit was ordered by El Chapo himself in what proved to be a case of mistaken identity.
And yet, this time, El Chapo was merciful.
“He pardoned the hitmen and there were no reprisals,” writes Hernandez. “The offense of having been charged $500,000 for the long underwear was a lot more serious than the assassination of his son.”
This article was originally posted here