Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzman being escorted away by government agents.
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Famous Prisoners: Witness Talks El Chapo Trial and the Drug Cartel’s Fall

During the drug lord El Chapo’s prosecution, a witness highlights major elements of the famous prisoner’s life along with the fall of his drug cartel.

Miguel Angel Martinez has explained the events that led Joaquin Guzman, El Chapo, a child born in poverty ending up as the head of a very notorious cartel. He gives this information during the two-day prosecution of El Chapo.

The famous prisoner, El Chapo, is described by Martinez to have been a very ambitious man. He says he just started as a smuggler and grew to become a very big drug lord. Guzman rose from being an underlining in a cartel run by El Padrino called Guadalajara to becoming the boss of the Sinaloa Cartel.

The Beginning of The End for El Chapo’s Cartel

Martinez stands out for El Chapo during his trial that is likely to have a lot of hardships. He says that he was present during several occasions of Guzman’s early moments in the drug world. El Chapo and his and his assistants headed the smuggling of cocaine through trains, planes, and tunnels to transport Colombian cocaine to their North America purchasers.

Miguel Angel Martinez: El Chapo’s Witness

Martinez after being released from prison in 2007 has been under witness protection ever since. He was placed under tight security after prison. Even when appearing in court, sketch artists are blocked from seeing his face.

He was born in Celaya, Guanajuato located in central Mexico. Martinez lived in the U.S for a while where he trained to become a pilot. He used this skill to smuggle electronics into Mexico. This flying illegal jobs of his brought him to drug smuggling.

He would land his planes in strips hidden in the deserts of Northern Mexico. This is where he came into contact with the drug cartels. He was summoned for a meeting in Mexico City which he attended.

It was in this meeting that he met El Chapo.  Their relationship started from here. He says that at the time El Chapo was just at the start of building his empire under the Guadalajara Cartel.

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Martinez says he helped El Chapo get into the American market for Colombian coke. He says that El Chap was a skilled smuggler. He could transport cocaine from Mexico to Los Angeles in 24 hours. This gained him his nickname El Rapido.

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El Chapo’s Drug Tunnels

El Rapido’s way of moving the drugs across the border since 1987 was through a tunnel. The tunnel connected Agua Prieta in Northern Mexico to Douglas, Arizona.

On Mexico side, the tunnel was located in a building that was hidden by a floor. The floor was lifted by a hydraulic system. It was also hidden by a billiards table.

Through this tunnel, El Chapo was able to transport 25-30 tons of coke in a year. This they did from 1987-1990.

The Mistake that Hit the Drug Cartel Hard

A negligent mistake from one of his lieutenants caused the stop of this process. In 1990, cartel honcho Francisco Camarena left the pool table and hydraulic lift suspended. This caught the attention of some Mexican police that was passing by.

The police then conducted an investigation that revealed the tunnel. Guzman was not pleased with this turn of events.

This left the drug cartel with 6-7 tons of cocaine and no way to get them to the other side. They loaded the cocaine into rucked and transported them to Nogales. The slow up in transporting the coke across the border turned El Rapido to El Lento, slow one.

Peppers: Guzman’s Side Business

After the tunnel was locked down, El Chapo came up with the peppers idea. Both Guzman and Martinez along with their other associates came up with a plan to smuggle cocaine through jalapeno pepper cans.

Their first idea was to purchase a cannery. But the group did away with this idea and decided to clone labels and packaging f a chili pepper brand named La Comadre/ Midwife. They did this because the chili company already had the approval they required for importation from the FDA.

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El Chapo purchased second-hand machinery from the U.S. not long after that, they already had their business back on track and flourishing. They were transporting the cans by truck to the north.

Just like the tunnel, they were transporting 25-30 tons of cocaine a year. This lasted 3 years.

The Drug Empire and It’s Possessions

Guzman builds his empire as the operations continued. He was able to purchase four jets and 100 hitmen. Guzman traveled to Asia to broker a heroin connection and later to Switzerland for cellular treatment to remain young.

El Chapo had houses on every beach and ranches in all states. He was the head of a fleet of Learjets. This he used in the early 1990s. They flew each month to Tijuana to collect money. The Learjets collected up to $10 million each and brought it back to Mexico.

The cash was first stored in stash houses before being transferred to banks. At the banks, the employees usually asked questions but Martinez always had a cover. He told them that he exported tomatoes.

For the money they were not able to transport, Guzman contracted one of his architects to design hydraulic compartments in safe houses around Mexico. Here the money was hidden underwater or under bed frames.

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Guzman’s Family and Expenses

As his empire grew so did the expenses. He was using up to $10 million a month to pay for operational expenses, his small army, and his family. He had four wives, many girlfriends, and several children.

Guzman was a generous man. Every year he would ensure to gift his employees fancy cars and other expensive gifts. Due to his loyalty and hard work, each year, Martinez would earn up to $1 million.

Missteps in The Drug Empire

In his description, Martinez mentioned Joaquin Guzman’s missteps. He once caused a war with his rival Tijuana Cartel. The cartel was run by the Arellano Felix brothers. These were his erstwhile allies. The war almost made El Chapo run out of commission for good.

This rivalry was to do with smuggling routes. What started as a simple disagreement turned bloody when the Arellano Felix brothers murdered several close friends and associates of El Rapido. Guzman then got approval from the veritable elder statesman of cartel land, Juan Jose Esparragoza, to revenge against the Arellano Felix brothers.

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For a number of years, he invested a lot of his resources to facilitate this war. Something that brought unwanted attention to both organizations.

In November 1992, Guzman got word that the Arellano brothers were partying in Puerto Vallarta. He got on a flight to Guadalajara and got his men ready. They went in trucks to the location of the club. What they did not know is the Arellano Felix brothers had already received word of their coming and were prepared.

On arriving at the club, Guzman’s men opened fire and there was a bloodbath that took place. Several of Guzman’s men were taken down and this only furthered the war.

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This and several other events in the war led to the downfall of El Chapo. He made several mistakes that made even his cocaine get seized up by the police.

El Chapo’s Arrest

Even after Guzman was arrested, Martinez said he continued to work for him. He worked for almost 5 years. His job mainly entailed ensuring his family received payment. He also ran the daily smuggling operations for Guzman’s associate who was not arrested.

The Witness’s Downfall

Martinez was arrested in 1998 by Mexican police. He survived 4 assassination attempts while in prison which he suspects were from the drug cartel. Martinez also resisted the attempts by the U.S to extradite him.

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzman being escorted away by government agents.
El Chapo’s infamy is not undeserved. His story shows not only that crime at the expense of others doesn’t pay, but that it also comes from the most vulnerable and harshest of places. Image Source: Independent

In 2001, he was extradited to the U.S where he was sentenced to 18 years as long as he co-operated with them. He was released in 2007. From then he has been living in witness protection and has appeared several times in court to testify.

He says that when he received a subpoena to testify against Guzman, he was not happy. Martinez says he is not ready to throw his boss under the bus.

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Tina Karen
Tina Karen has been a lifestyle blogger for a while now. As she writes her many blog posts, she makes sure to highlight all the major points of interests rather than only emphasizing the areas she finds preferable. Tina possess a soft voice that comes in handy and enables her to do voice overs. She currently writes news articles for prison loved ones on the Prison Rideshare Network.
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