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HOT TOPICS: Drug and Alcohol Treatment  Heroin

Drug Lord Escapes. But Does it Matter?

As "El Chapo" Guzman evades capture again, a top US General says Mexico's "decapitation strategy" does nothing to cut drug violence.

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Catching El Chapo wouldn't end the
bloodshed. Photo via

By Bryan Le

03/16/12

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Mexican authorities have just revealed that Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman—the leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel and perhaps the world's most wanted drug lord—narrowly escaped capture last month with the unintentional aid of a prostitute. She was brought to a rented house where he was staying in Los Cabos, Baja California—but Guzman apparently decided to postpone the encounter on account of her menstruation and cut his stay short. Had he stayed there as planned, authorities claim, he would have been captured. The chance to take down a man believed to have a security detail of 300 men and several helicopters doesn't come often. But would capturing Guzman have any impact on Mexican drug violence? US General Charles Jacoby, the head of the US Northern Command, thinks not. “The decapitation strategy—they’ve been successful at that. Twenty-two out of the top 37 trafficking figures that the Mexican government has gone after have been taken off the board,” he says. “But it has not had an appreciable effect—an appreciable, positive effect.” Worse, a surge of violence tends to follow whenever a cartel leader is toppled—before someone else steps up to take his place. Even Guzman himself, who is President Felipe Calderon's prize target this election season, has several well-known kingpins lined up to take over should he be captured or killed.

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