CULIACAN, Mexico—The house’s former drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán fled in 2014 after Mexican Marines surrounded him with some recent changes as the Mexican government prepared to award it to the national lottery.
Surveillance cameras covering every angle of the modest home’s exterior were removed. And the hole in the bottom of a bathtub that Guzmán slid to access a network of tunnels was covered with a concrete slab.
The Associated Press was granted access to the property in a quiet Culiacan neighborhood prior to the lottery. In recent weeks, Mexico’s Institute to Return Stolen Goods to the People, known as INDEP, gave it a fresh coat of white paint on the inside and outside, and tiled the bathroom where the tub and tunnel were. was the entry point.
President Andres Manuel López Obrador is referring to a lottery of confiscated properties, but has made no mention of the history of this particular house. A huge house in one of Mexico City’s prettiest areas and a private box at the famous Azteca Stadium have attracted much attention.
INDEP’s website lists it simply as “Casa en Culiacán”. It is approximately 2,800 square feet and is probably appropriately located, in a neighborhood called Libertad, or “Freedom”. The government has estimated the value of the two-bedroom house at $183,000.
The house was abandoned over the years and the Marines did some damage when they discovered it, so repairs were necessary.
Guzmán escaped through the tunnels at that time, but his freedom lasted only a few days. On 22 February 2014, the Marines landed again, this time in a condo off the coast in Mazatlan.
By that time, Guzmán already had a reputation for daring escape. He reportedly exited one of Mexico’s maximum-security prisons in 2001 in a laundry cart.
In July 2015, less than a year and a half after his capture in Mazatlán, Guzmán slipped through a tunnel dug to the drain in the shower of his cell and was laid through the tunnel to escape another Maxime-security Mexican prison. Ride a motorcycle on the tracks.
Marines recaptured him six months later at Los Mochis, Sinaloa, where he was hidden in another unremarkable house.
In July 2019, Guzmán was extradited to the United States, tried, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
INDEP officials, who declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak, said they were surprised the home was being taken care of. It’s not luxurious. There is no swimming pool, none of the pomp that characterizes other narco properties in Sinaloa.
Neighbors said they did not know who their neighbor was.
“We never knew anything, we never knew who lived there, we never saw anyone,” said a neighbor, who quickly cut off the conversation. Many locals are not interested in talking about Guzmán or even calling his name a place where the Sinaloa Cartel remains powerful.
The house was well located for its previous purposes. There is only one neighbor on one side. On the other hand there is an underground storm sewer – Culiacán built hundreds of kilometers of them to cope with the torrential rain – that is connected to the bathroom tunnel to make Guzmán’s escape possible. There is a school across the road.
On the morning of February 17, 2014, the neighborhood was suddenly filled with gray trucks of Marines. He blocked the traffic. No doubt they were interested in the visually impeccable home.
But they did not find Guzman there. In fact, during his US trial, a witness testified that despite reports to the contrary at the time, Guzmán was not in any of the five homes the marines searched for.
Five days later, the marines captured Guzmán 125 miles south of Mazatlán, where he was living with his wife Emma Coronel and their twin daughters.
INDEP tried to auction the house last year. It began bidding for about $130,000. There were no takers.
Now, López Obrador is giving it away as part of a lottery, the drawing of which is scheduled for Wednesday, the day Mexico celebrates its Independence Day. This is the first time Mexico’s national lottery is giving away assets. Proceeds from this will go to the Olympic athletes of Mexico.
“This raffle is very important and I call on everyone who can help buy tickets, or two or three,” López Obrador told his daily news conference last week.
In downtown Mexico City, lottery ticket vendors said sales have been good.
Jorge Lopez said he has been selling 100 to 120 tickets for $12 a day since last week. “Right now, it’s selling very well.” He added that the value of the 22 awards, which is much higher than the Culiacan House, is attracting attention. Some people ask who were the previous owners of the properties, but many do not, he said.
Back in Culiacán, across town near the center, Ignacio Mariscal said he supports the lottery. “Those houses served no one; Those people had it,” Mariscal said. “I see it perfectly. This is to help those in need.”
by Andres Villarreal
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times