Narcotrafficker slams Mexico drug war in rare interview

Ismael 'el Mayo' Zambada, who is allied with Mexico’s most wanted drug trafficker, Joaquin 'Shorty' Guzman from the Sinaloa cartel, told Proceso news magazine that Mexico drug war efforts are bound to fail.

By , Staff writer

Everyone here has something to say about the Mexican drug war.

Opposition politicians say the president’s military-led strategy has failed.

Many residents who once supported the government's hard line now question its effectiveness.

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IN PICTURES: Mexico's drug war

The United States says authorities must shift attention to the roots of the violence.

Now, even drug traffickers themselves are having a say.

In a rare interview granted to the liberal news magazine Proceso in Mexico, Ismael “el Mayo” Zambada, who is allied with Mexico’s most wanted drug trafficker, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman from the Sinaloa cartel, says that Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s efforts are bound to fail.

Most people here aren’t inclined to care what a drug trafficker has to say about the state of security in Mexico. In fact, officials refused to comment on the interview, which was published Sunday. But it doesn’t change the fact that his words coincide with what many others are thinking these days.

'El Mayo' speaks

“One day I will decide to turn myself in to the government so they can shoot me.... They will shoot me and euphoria will follow. But at the end of days we’ll all know that nothing changed,” Mr. Zambada was quoted as saying in the magazine whose cover features a photo of Zambada with his arm around Proceso founder Julio Scherer.

“Millions of people are wrapped up in the narco problem. How can they be dominated? For all the bosses jailed, dead, or extradited, their replacements are already there,” said Zambada.

He has a point. President Calderón dispatched troops and federal police across the country to wipe out organized crime when he took over the presidency in December 2006. But since then, Mexico has gotten more violent, not less, with more than 18,000 people killed in drug-related violence.

It is unclear why Zambada, a fugitive for years who reportedly contacted Proceso to set up the interview, wanted to grant one.

Clandestine interview

Mr. Scherer says he received an anonymous note with Zambada’s request, with a time and place that he would be transported to his interview.

Several car rides later and after a night spent in an uninhabited house, he finally made it to a hideout in the mountains, where the interview proceeded over a breakfast of beans, toast, juice, and coffee.

IN PICTURES: Mexico's drug war

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