Powerful drug lord's capture focus of documentary

2014-08-19T12:54:00Z 2014-09-02T16:14:44Z Powerful drug lord's capture focus of documentaryBy Gerald M. Gay Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Last February, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel and one of the most powerful drug lords in Mexico, was arrested in the coastal town of Mazatlán after years of evading authorities.

Or was he?

That’s the question filmmaker Charlie Minn raises in his documentary, “Es El Chapo?,” which will screen at the Harkins Tucson Spectrum 18, 5455 S. Calle Santa Cruz, starting Friday.

A part-time resident of El Paso, Texas, Minn said there is a widespread skepticism in Mexico when it comes to the topic of Guzmán’s capture.

“There wasn’t a single shot fired when he was arrested,” Minn said in a recent phone interview. “He was the biggest drug lord in the world. How does that happen? It is very suspicious.”

“Es El Chapo?” follows Minn and his five-man film crew as they travel into the heart of Sinaloa to speak to residents and officials about what they believe went down.

Visit eselchapo.com for more info on the film and showtimes.

Why make this film? “I was in El Paso when he got arrested. From that point forward, I kept hearing people say that they didn’t think it was Chapo who was arrested. I thought that idea might make for a good documentary. When have you ever heard of a colossal fugitive being arrested, followed by people doubting that it was that person? It only happens in a country like Mexico, where corruption runs so deep.”

Where in Mexico did you travel? “We went into Sinaloa, to Mazatlán on the Pacific coast. We went to Chapo’s hometown, La Tuna, in Badiraguato. We risked getting shot going there. You take a single dirt road to get into town. It is winding and narrow. Cars going into the village are under intense scrutiny.”

With whom did you speak and what was the most surprising thing you learned? “We talked to residents from Culiacán and Mazatlán, the police, the attorney general. We tried to cover as much ground as possible.

“I was surprised by how revered Chapo is in Mexico despite being responsible for so many deaths. He is a Robin Hood figure, the social bandit that beat the system. The average Mexican doesn’t trust their government. They look at someone like Chapo Guzmán, who represents power, fame and wealth and want to achieve the things he has achieved.

What do you want people to get out of this film? “There are so many opinions out there about his arrest. I would love for people, when they walk out of the theater to decide for themselves what they think happened.”

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at ggay@tucson.com or 807-8430.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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