By the time DEA agent Drew Hogan arrived in Mexico City in 2010, Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman had already been on the run for nine years – having escaped from a prison in Southwest Mexico in early 2001 – reportedly hiding in a laundry basket.
After Hogan established his base of operation, he picked up the trail for the Sinaloa cartel chief by “looking at the details,” he said.
“It was in the details – in the numbers,” Hogan told NBC‘s “Today” show on Wednesday while discussing his book “Hunting El Chapo.”
“The phone numbers don’t lie,” Hogan said. “And I was able to pair up with a crack team of Homeland Security investigative agents, and we began intercepting members of Chapo’s inner circle and starting to dismantle layers within his sophisticated communications structure until we got to the top, where I had his personal secretary’s device, who was standing right next to him, and I could ping that to establish a pattern of life to determine where he was at.”
Hogan, his partner “Brady” and a team of 50 Mexican marines would stumble upon a safehouse used by El Chapo in February 2014, only to find the Cartel boss had already left the lair hidden behind six-inch thick steel doors.
The DEA agent filmed the hideout on his mobile phone – revealing among other things:
- A black sack filled with hundreds of green bananas intended for smuggling cocaine into the United States.
- A jewel-encrusted semiautomatic pistol adorned with El Chapo’s initials
- Lots of cocaine
- A cache of weapons, including a tripod-mounted machine gun
Hogan says he was shocked by the squalor of the place. “I was surprised, he really afforded himself no luxuries. Each safehouse was the same type of construction, very basic.”
“They had Walmart-style plastic tables and chairs, none of the trappings you would expect from a drug lord.”
El Chapo was eventually tracked down to the beach resort of Mazatlán in late 2014.
For the first face-to-face meeting Hogan wore his very own black baseball cap, and ran up to the drug lord and yelling: ‘What’s up, Chapo?‘
Hogan said from that moment he knew he was going to tell his story at some point, and chose to write about the exhaustive and enthralling hunt in a new book, called ‘Hunting El Chapo.’
On Wednesday he spoke about the book for the first time publicly in an interview on the Today Show, and will give further details during Dateline on Sunday.
He also shared a personal photo from those thrilling years of his life of the moment he caught El Chapo, in which the drug lord can be seen frowning with Hogan and another agent behind him and posing for the camera.
The former DEA agent called that day he met El Chapo a ‘souvenir of the hunt,’ explaining he plucked it from another place where Chapo had been hiding out. –Daily Mail
Within 16 months, however, El Chapo would escape from prison – tunneling below the shower in his cell at a Mexican maximum security prison.
“This tunnel that went underneath the prison was the same type of tunnels that went under the safe houses, the same tunnels that were at the US/ Mexico border,” said Hogan.
Six months later, Chapo was captured again – with the aid of informants, satellite images and intercepted cell phone communications. The drug lord was extradited to the United States on January 19 of this year to stand trial on charges of running the largest drug-trafficking enterprise in the world – said to be responsible for hundreds of murders in North America. He is wanted in Chicago, San Diego, New York City, New Hampshire, Miami and Texas – and has pending indictments in seven different U.S. federal courts.
El Chapo is currently sitting in the maximum-security wing of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. His trial is set to begin in September.