The world's most wanted drug lord, Mexican head of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman put a contract out on Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent Jack Riley's head, literally, the Drug Enforcement Agency official told Yahoo news in an exclusive interview.
Riley said the DEA got a hold of wiretappings in which they clearly talked about beheading him for about US$100,000.
“What do you think Chapo would give for us to shut him (Riley) up and cut his head off,” plays the recording with the speakers speculating it to be about US$100,000.
The DEA special agent in El Paso, Texas, said this shook him up, prompting him to send his family up north.
The threats came after Riley gave an exclusive interview with a Ciudad Juarez-based newspaper in 2007. The agent didn't mention the newspaper, but in Ciudad Juarez – on the other side of the border with El Paso, Texas – there is only two: El Diario and El Norte.
Riley said he later found out the newspaper was partially owned by El Chapo.
He said he told the newspaper, “I was here. I was going after Chapo. We were going to target his [El Chapo] organization and most importantly, him.”
Guzman has been successful as a drug trafficker due to his creativity in smuggling drugs and the variety of ways in which he transports narcotics across the border into the U.S., including high-tech tunnels, secret compartments in vehicles, submarines, low-flying airplanes and even catapults to launch hundreds of pounds over the fence the U.S. built at the border with Mexico.
The DEA official said he was up for retirement, and decided to reverse his decision when El Chapo escaped from jail.
“Just so you know, I was going to retire – until this dick escaped,” Riley told Yahoo. “I’m in it for the long haul.”
He added that he believes that Guzman is afraid of police cooperation even beyond borders.
“In terms of cooperation, sharing information. People think I’m crazy. You know what Chapo is most afraid of? That cops are talking to cops… Well, we are now. That’s how you dismantle organizations,” he said.
Riley, now in Washington serving as acting deputy administrator of the DEA, said that that since the Sinaloa cartel leader escaped from the maximum security prison just north of Mexico City three months ago, Guzman has reasserted control over the cartel. His cartel took almost a year to construct a mile-long tunnel directly to the shower in his cell through which he vanished before the eyes of prison security.
The organization is opening up new markets on the east coast of the United States in conspiracy with inner-city street gangs.
El Chapo Could Instigate Further Border Violence
Last week, Robert Harris, in charge of border security for the Department of Homeland Security, testified before Congres that he believed that border violence will increase now that Guzman is on the loose again.
“His escape could potentially instigate further border violence similar to incidents following his first prison escape in 2001,” Harris told lawmakers.
Guzman’s current whereabouts are unknown, although Julio “El Tio” Martinez recently told teleSUR that he was still in the northwestern state of Sinaloa in the mountainous region that begins about 30 minutes north of the state's capital Culiacan in a small community known as Jesus Maria all the way up to Badiraguato.
“Why would he risk going anywhere else? Here he enjoys the protection of the people, of federal security forces and, of course, of state police and the government of Mario Lopez Valdez,” said Martinez, an associate of a security boss for Guzman known only as “Aquiles.”
Chapo continues at large despite a massive international manhunt to recapture him and in spite of rewards offered in Mexico (about US$3.8 million) and the US$5 million the U.S. government say they will pay for information leading to his arrest.
Guzman has more than half a dozen criminal indictments pending against him in several U.S. states, including Chicago, where he is considered Public Enemy Number One, a title once given to Al Capone.
Harris’s warnings are not unfounded considering that a bloody drug cartel turf war erupted at the border after Guzman broke out of jail the first time in 2001.
Guzman is said to have ordered about 3,000 deaths of rival gang members in his fight to control the major cocaine and heroin routes into the United States.
Harris told legislators of several incidents in which U.S. personnel and U.S. equipment were targeted by drug-related violence, including a recent shooting involving a U.S. aircraft, and the robbery of a truck transporting Border Crossing Cards that were en route to a U.S. Consulate in Mexico.
“The reach and influence of the Mexican cartels … stretches across and beyond the southwest border, operating through loose business ties with smaller organizations in cities across the U.S.,” Harris said.
Last week, 13 more prison officials were arrested in Mexico in connection with Guzman's escape, which cost the drug lord about US$32 million in bribes.
WATCH: Joaquin Guzman Escapes Jail Again