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Thursday, 21 February 2019

What could the corporate sector learn from Mexico’s most notorious druglord?

What could the corporate sector learn from Mexico’s most notorious druglord? Apparently quite a lot, writes Nicole Hong in the Wall Street Journal. Convicted in New York on Tuesday on ten criminal counts of narcotics trafficking and money laundering, Joaquín Guzmán Loera (“El Chapo”) may spend the rest of his life in a US prison, but his legacy — and the influence of his deadly Sinaloa cartel — lives on in Mexico.

The larger than life figure who powered an empire: What emerges from his trial is an almost-too-fantastic story of daring smuggling operations using tunnels, trains, and even jalapeño cans, an alleged payoff to Mexico’s then-president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, and two prison escapes by a man who started life as a “semi-literate farmhand” and then rose to make at least USD 14 bn in profits from the illicit business. But what is equally clear is that Guzmán was, in many ways, a highly astute businessman, who along with other cartel bosses established a “profit-sharing model to protect against [narcotics] seizures by law enforcement” and whose subordinates referred to the cartel’s “detailed infrastructure, accounting ledgers, supply-chain issues and the need to ‘protect the capital of the investors.’”

Mexico’s narcotics war is nowhere near over. Despite Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador renewing the country’s fight against the trade of illicit substances, cartel and Mexican security experts and investigative reporters argue that it is actually going from strength to strength. An estimated USD 19-39 bn in profit from illicit substances are returned to Mexico every year, and increasing trade is also fueling a spate in violence.

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