El Chapo’s liar: The secluded house at the center of Mexico’s drug war

A view of the kitchen inside the safe house in Los Mochis. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)
A view of the kitchen inside the safe house in Los Mochis. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

By Rory Carroll / The Guardian

The transformation of the house on the corner of Río Quelite street and Jiquilpan boulevard, in the affluent Las Palmas quarter of Los Mochis on Mexico’s Pacific coast, intrigued the neighbours.

A Mormon couple who had lived there sold and left about two years ago, leaving it in the hands of an unknown buyer who did not move in but started making changes.

Workmen planted six olive trees on the pavements lining both sides of the property, pretty additions to a neighbourhood of low, one-storey buildings. The trees grew a thick canopy, obscuring views of the house.

Then the workmen gutted and remodelled the inside and built high walls, painted white, on which they mounted cameras. A satellite dish sprouted over the roof. And still, for a year, it remained empty.

A few weeks ago a flurry of activity – cleaners. “They were getting it ready,” said Alejandro Gómez, 54, who has lived in Las Palmas for two decades. Residents were suspicious, he said. “We thought maybe it was for kidnappers. We never imagined it was for El Señor.”

El Señor – also known as as Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, leader of the Sinaloa cartel, the world’s biggest and richest criminal syndicate.


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