Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa cartel, was arrested Saturday in a joint Mexico-U.S. effort to bring down the one of the most wanted men in the world.
Guzman was arrested in the resort city of Mazatlán, Mexico.
Retired deputy director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Alonzo Pena, called the drug kingpins capture a message to the people of Mexico.
"I think it's going to bring the people of Mexico a lot of confidence in their leadership, in their President and their intuitions. That they can go after the most wanted man,” said Pena.
According to a U.S. government official, cellphone intercepts, and the arrests of Guzman's courier and top aide were what helped bring him to justice.
A wiretap run by ICE officials lead authorities to a beach-front condo where Guzman was found armed with a military-style assault rifle.
“The actual operation in Mexico was done by Mexican law enforcement and military personal. The U.S. role we played was (to) provide intelligence, we provide training, we provide equipment to assist Mexico,” Pena said.
Guzman ran the international Sinaloa cartel, Guzman's $3 billion-a-year drug smuggling empire, which is blamed for 25 percent of illegal drugs entering the U.S. It is an empire that thrives on using boats, planes, tunnels and even submarines to move tons of contraband.
“I think because of the fact that we are (the) consumer country, and probably the largest in the world for the narcotics, that we do bear responsibility to help combat this scorch on our country,” Pena said.
Guzman is being held in a maximum security prison. U.S. authorities are encouraging Mexican officials to extradite the drug kingpin to ensure he won't escape, something he has done before.
"Whether it's in the United States or Mexico, I think both governments are going to sit down and discuss where is the best place, where is the best jurisdiction (and) who's had the best case of evidence and pursue it that way," said Pena.
Guzman faces at least seven federal indictments.