By The Economist. NO SOONER had Mexican security forces captured Joaquín “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzmán, the country’s most wanted drug trafficker, in February 2014 than the United States began preparing the papers to request his extradition. He faced numerous charges north of the border and presented an obvious flight risk, having already escaped from prison in 2001.
However, Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s president, saw the incarceration of his trophy inmate as a matter of national dignity. He had already curbed collaboration between his justice officials and their American counterparts by halving the number of extraditions and requiring security dealings to pass through a “single window” at the interior ministry. When asked in January this year about extraditing Mr Guzmán (the model for the masks above), Jesús Murillo Karam, then the attorney-general, quipped that “Chapo must stay here to complete his sentence, and then I will extradite him. So in about 300 or 400 years.”
Just six months on, Mr Murillo had reason to rue his sarcasm. In an escape worthy of his legend, Mr Guzmán snuck out of prison through a mile-long tunnel. In September Mr Peña implicitly admitted that the Americans had a point by approving the extradition of 13 prisoners to the United States, including Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal, a bloodthirsty Texan drug lord.