It has taken less than a week for the first narcocorridos, or drug-ballads, celebrating the spectacular prison escape of notorious narcotics kingpin Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán Lorea to appear on YouTube.
The first songs began springing up on Sunday, the day after El Chapo fled his cell through a 1,500-meter tunnel dug underneath the maximum security El Altiplano penitentiary where he was presumably held under heavy guard.
The first drug ballad about El Chapo’s escape has had more than 200,000 hits on YouTube
Narcocorridos are lively folk tunes that glorify the lives and exploits of Mexico’s most famous drug traffickers. Originating in the 1970s in the country’s northern states, the ballads have become popular on both sides of the Mexican-US border.
At the height of the explosive war launched against the cartels by President Felipe Calderón’s administration, they were banned from being played in some Mexican states.
Miguel Gastelum, who is from Sinaloa – the same state where El Chapo was born – was one of the first to upload a video he produced at his restaurant in California that lauds the daring escape by El Chapo, who in the past has evaded his captors by fleeing from different safehouses through underground passageways.
“Now that really is mocking the Mexican government, because through another tunnel he escaped from El Altiplano,” Gastelum sings.
“And now they are moving to bring in the American government. Mr Guzman Loera will for all time be the most powerful drug lord who mocked the government.”
So far, the video has had more than 200,000 hits on YouTube.
Video: Miguel Gastelum sings his new El Chapo drug ballad (in Spanish)
The first narcocorridos were made famous by the group Los Tigres del Norte, who have won numerous Latin Grammy Awards in the United States.
“Only God knows where El Chapo Guzman is, whether you are in Sinaloa, or on the border, whether you crossed it by plane or hopped over land, or whether you are in the mountains of Badiraguato, the land where you were born, and where your child will die and never see again the light of day,” go the lyrics of another ballad.
With 32,000 residents, Bardiraguato is the poor rural town in Sinaloa where El Chapo was born. Back in his home state, he is seen as a hero and “saint” by many – a kind of Robin Hood figure who, much like the late Medellín cartel boss Pablo Escobar, has helped out the poverty-stricken.
Video: A song by David Orozco celebrating El Chapo’s escape (in Spanish).
More than a man, El Chapo is a myth. And where it circulates the most is in Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa. On the night of his escape, it was reported that his sons and their bodyguards got drunk to celebrate. “Iván, Alfredo, Mini Lic were all there...,” Culiacán residents said later. Iván and Alfredo are Guzmán’s sons while Mini Lic, a friend of theirs, is the son of Dámso López Núñez, a Sinaloa cartel colonel also known as “the lawyer.”
Some believe that El Chapo is hiding out somewhere in Sinaloa’s rugged mountain range, which can be reached in about 90 minutes by car from the state capital.
“The first thing he needs to do is go see the lady,” said one resident. That lady is his elderly mother, Consuelo, who lives in a rural mountain home built by her son fitted with satellite dishes so she can spend her time watching her favorite TV programs.
In Culiacán, a bust of Guzmán has been placed between the statues of Jesus and Mary inside the Jesús Malverde Church. Devotees come and pray before the effigy of El Chapo: the man who started his criminal career by hijacking trucks and taking from the rich to give to the poor, according to the legend surrounding him. It’s a legend his latest great escape is clearly fueling.
English version by Martin Delfin.
David Marcial Pérez
The capture of Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán Lorea, the world’s richest and most-wanted drug trafficker, in February 2014 made international headlines and was seen as a stunning victory for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who had been in office for little more than a year.
But now the Peña Nieto administration finds itself trying to answer tough questions about the presumed inside job that helped the 58-year-old head of the Sinaloa cartel escape from his cell through a hole dug underneath a shower.
Chief of Staff Miguel Osorio Chong, who is in charge of national security and has personally come under fire for this latest escape, promised lawmakers on Thursday that El Chapo would be recaptured.
He said the police and military were combing the country’s airports, sea ports and “other places” where intelligence reports point to where Guzmán may be hiding. At least 10,000 police officers have fanned out across 22 states.
“There should be no doubt that we are going to bring him back to prison and bring him before the Mexican justice system,” added Enrique Galindos Ceballos, the Federal Police chief who accompanied Osorio to the hearing held in Congress on the issue.
In the United States, where El Chapo has been indicted on drug charges in at least six different federal court districts, including Chicago, law enforcement authorities are also on the lookout.
Deputy US Drug Enforcement Administrator Jack Riley denied reports that the United States and Mexico were not working together to find him.
“El Chapo is hoping and planning on the fact that the good guys, the cops on both sides of the border, don’t talk to each other, don’t connect the dots,” Riley told CNN on Wednesday. “And I’m here to tell you we’re doing that better now than we have ever done it. And if I was him, I’d be looking over my shoulder.”
Interpol has issued a “red alert” for his arrest.