MEXICO CITY — Like Vito Corleone, the fictional “Godfather” mafia don who claimed to be a humble olive oil importer, captured drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has told prosecutors that he’s a simple farmer, does not have an email account, makes about $18,000 a year and has no ties to drug traffickers.

That’s far different from the image offered by a former army commando who served as Guzman’s bodyguard in the Sinaloa Cartel and was captured with him about a month ago.

That bodyguard, Carlos Manuel Hoo Ramirez, who goes by the nickname El Condor, said he and Guzman spent most of the last three years inside the city of Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, using tunnels and drainage ditches to move between five safe houses.

Guzman always had two planes on standby with pilots ready to fly him anywhere, and switched BlackBerry cellphones every week, Hoo Ramirez said.

He also said Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel, which has been cast as one of the world’s biggest crime organizations, was fraught with internal friction and was fighting against rivals even on its own turf in northwest Mexico.

Nearly five weeks after Guzman’s capture in an oceanfront condominium in Mazatlan on the Sea of Cortez, it is not yet clear how harmed the Sinaloa Cartel has been by his arrest. Guzman is now in the maximum-security Almoloya de Juarez prison on the outskirts of Mexico City.


U.S. government officials, speaking about counternarcotics operations on condition of anonymity because of their sensitive nature, said the arrest of Guzman by Mexican naval commandos working with U.S. intelligence in February was only the latest of many raids that had hurt the Sinaloa Cartel.

“Based upon what we’re seeing, in general, they’re having to realign and reassess how they are going to continue to operate,” one official said. “It’s still uncertain how it’s going to play out.”

Guzman, who told prosecutors he is 56, offered no window into the cartel’s operations when interrogated following his arrest. Mexico’s Excelsior newspaper published reports this week based on federal Attorney General’s Office summaries of the interrogation. They show Guzman sticking to his story of innocence, despite having escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001.

“I’m a farmer,” Guzman told investigators when asked his profession, Excelsior reported Wednesday. He said he grew corn, beans and sorghum, and that his earnings were modest. He said he had a primary school education, was married three times, does not use email, drinks rarely and has no tattoos.

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