El Chapo: Master of the Fake Escape?

Don Winslow thinks so.

Esquire this week nabbed a 2016 Ellie nomination in the Columns and Commentary category. Cited were a trio of pieces by Dwight Garner published in the September, November and December/January 2017 issues.

Equally worthy from that publication would have been Don Winslow’s masterful summer feature “El Chapo and the Secret History of Heroin.” With the extradition of El Chapo (a.k.a. Joaquín Guzmán Loera ) to the United States finally coming about this week, we couldn’t help but think back to Winslow’s take on the Mexican drug lord’s 2001 and 2015 prison escapes.

The author calls the escapes “catnip for the media” and, essentially, as reported and disseminated, fake news:

For the record, Guzmán did not [in 2015] go out that tunnel on a motorcycle. Steve McQueen escapes on motorcycles. My money says that Guzmán didn’t go into that tunnel at all; anyone who can afford to pay $50 million in bribes and finance the excavation of a mile-long tunnel can also afford not to use it.

Gentle reader, the man is worth $1 billion. He was thinking about buying the Chelsea Football Club. He went out the front door.

In other words, grand complicit fabrications have been constructed and put forth to both fuel the folklore and protect the bribed. Winslow in the article shares a similar smoke-screen for Guzman’s earlier 2001 escape. The notion of the drug lord being smuggled out in a laundry cart is movie-worthy, but according to the writer’s sources, it was more like a helicopter off the roof of that particular prison.

The main focus of Winslow’s article is how the gradual legalization of marijuana in the U.S. forced Guzman to find a different anchor drug. His choice, explains Winslow, is a big reason opioid and heroin epidemics are now ravaging all sorts of remote corners of the U.S.

Along with Matt Taibbi’s rollicking coverage of Donald Trump for Rolling Stone, which is separately nominated in the ASME-Ellies Columns and Commentary category, this Esquire article was one of favorite pieces of magazine writing published in 2016. Winslow has an equally provocative theory about El Chapo’s 2014 recapture. For that, you will need to read the article.

Previously on FishowlNY:
Author Don Winslow on How He Boarded the Train to Literary Success

Image via: Esquire