The house does not have much to see. It is a white building with a black fence, behind which the tops of a few palm trees are visible. One floor, two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room and a garage. “Seven minutes from Culiacán Park,” reads the tired-looking government ad that has been trying to auction the house for years. The price: 3,830,000 pesos ($ 192,300, € 163,500). And while neither the fuzzy photo nor its name – House in Culiacán – has so far caught the attention of a potential buyer, the real interest of the property lies in the history these four walls have witnessed. . It was in this house, on February 16, 2014, that the world’s largest drug trafficker, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, dodged the Mexican armed forces. While a detachment of marines tried to break down the armored door, the drug lord escaped with his lover through a secret passage. For El Chapo, the real value of the house was hidden in the bathroom.
The Institute for the Restitution of Stolen Property from the People (INDEP), an organization that already existed to auction off property seized during criminal operations but changed its name under the will of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to publicize its fight against corruption, announced a new lottery in which it will offer dozens of properties, luxury items and even a VIP box at the Azteca stadium in a unique draw at the National Lottery of Mexico on September 15, the day of independence of the country. Following the bizarre attempt to add the presidential plane to the national lottery in 2020, which no one ultimately won, the president will double down with a prize fund worth 250 million pesos (around 8.85 million pesos). euros, 10.5 million euros) in property, the majority of which was confiscated from drug traffickers and corrupt officials.
For 250 pesos ($ 12.60, € 10.60), a lucky ticket holder can win El Chapo’s house and sit on the couch imagining, without the help of Netflix, that he’s in. an episode of Narcos: Mexico. Another property with a less macabre history but more zeros on the price is also up for grabs: a huge mansion that once belonged to Amado Carrillo, the so-called “Lord of the heavens” who in the 1990s controlled the world’s largest fleet. ‘dispersal planes. cocaine on the American tracks, and who would organize lavish parties in the property of the chic district of El Pedregal, in the south of Mexico.
The house of Culiacán marked the beginning of the end of the most feared man in the Mexican criminal empire. After his first flight to justice in 2001, when he escaped from Puente Grande penitentiary in Jalisco in a laundry basket according to the official version, El Chapo had spent 13 years in hiding. He has always remained close to his roots in Sinaloa, watched over by his loyal friends and family, and backed by the security of being the head of the world’s most powerful drug trafficking organization. The government of former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto launched a campaign to end El Chapo’s reign in early 2014. In February of that year, the Mexican Navy and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of United States organized a joint operation to capture the Mexican public. enemy number one.
At that time, it was believed that El Chapo had penetrated most of the northern border. In Baja California, Sonora and Chihuahua alone, the DEA has attributed to the El Chapo organization a hundred major traffickers. But the authorities ignored the secret tunnel under the toilet in Culiacán. As Mexican Marines attempted to break through the hydraulic armored door, El Chapo set in motion the machinery of his escape, pulling a lever that lifted the tub off the ground and slid down a metal hallway that gave him access to the sewers. Like this property, seven others belonging to El Chapo in Culiacán were linked by this underground network.
According to the universal newspaper, El Chapo was not alone. He ran away with one of his lovers, Lucero Sánchez López, now known as “La Chapodiputada” (Chapo’s representative), because she had been a member of the local government of Sinaloa. The drug lord was finally arrested a few days later, on February 22, 2014, at a hotel in Mazatlán, on the Sinaloa coast. At the time of his arrest, he was with his wife and twins. It was 6:50 a.m. With a pink suitcase, a bottle of shampoo and a pile of clothes strewn about, one of the most powerful drug lords in the world had been captured. El Chapo managed to escape again in 2015, from a high security federal prison in Almoloya de Juárez, again through a hidden tunnel in the shower area of his cell. He was recaptured in 2016 and extradited to the United States in 2017.
El Chapo’s adventures with Sánchez, who once elected became the youngest MP in Sinaloa’s history, did not end in the Culiacán house. A year after El Chapo’s flight from Almoloya prison – which damaged the credibility of Peña Nieto’s government – the official re-enactment of his last days of freedom in 2015 indicates that he spent New Years Eve. Christmas with his wife Emma Coronel, a beauty queen. and influencer who is currently awaiting a conviction in the United States on federal drug trafficking charges. A few days later, however, and with all the strength of the Mexican authorities in search of him, he found time to spend New Year’s Eve with Sánchez.
A narco mansion and an Azteca box
The property previously owned by Amado Carrillo is one of the crown jewels of the lottery. Although Carrillo managed his drug smuggling operations from Ciudad Juárez, it is estimated that he owned dozens of homes and mansions on both sides of the US-Mexico border. The one up for grabs in the September national lottery draw is valued at 77,260,000 pesos (approximately $ 2.53 million, € 3 million) and covers 3,000 square meters.
The property, acquired by Carrillo 20 years ago, also has a heated swimming pool, nine bedrooms, a children’s playhouse, saunas, Jacuzzis and a wine cellar. The mansion owned by former cartel boss Juárez, who died in hospital in 1997 after undergoing cosmetic surgery to change its appearance, also has its own reception room.
Another of the big prizes available at the lottery is a VIP box at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, home of La Liga giant MX Club América and the Mexican national team. The box is valued at 20 million pesos (nearly $ 840,000, 1 million euros) and the winner will have exclusive use until 2065. It was purchased by the government of former President Miguel de Madrid in 1984 in the name of several administrators of the National Lottery for the use of the Mexican leader and his friends. “Since it is not for the National Lottery to buy VIP boxes for the use of government employees, and in accordance with the president’s position against corruption, it has been decided that this box will be added to the lottery, ”said the current director. -General of the Mexican National Lottery, Margarita González Saravia.
The lodge at the Azteca stadium has 20 seats, a private bathroom and kitchen, as well as four parking spaces. According to the universal, it was in this corner of the famous stadium that Argentinian soccer hero Diego Armando Maradona received the World Cup trophy from De La Madrid after Argentina won the 1986 tournament in Mexico.
A total of 22 properties are included in the lottery, including homes, land and ranches in Acapulco, Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, in the state of Guerrero; León and Silao in Guanajuato; Tlajomulco in Jalisco as well as Ensenada, Baja California and the municipalities of Coyoacán and Benito Juárez in Mexico City. Mexican authorities have announced that “in the event that the winning tickets have been purchased by foreigners, they cannot claim the properties located in the border areas, beaches or coasts of the country, in accordance with applicable law”. If a foreign ticket holder wins any of these properties, they will receive the cash equivalent of its value.
English version by Rob Train.