As the manhunt for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman stretches in into the fifth day, there’s still no sign of the billionaire drug lord. But NBC 5 Investigates has learned Mexican police are now cooperating with the FBI and DEA – making U.S. authorities part of the hunt.
More than 10,000 Federal and local police and dozens of dogs are searching hotels, hospitals and funeral homes for the fugitive leader of the Sinaloa cartel. Airports are on alert. Security is searching all private flights.
“I will tell you the hunt’s on,” said Jack Riley, DEA Deputy Administrator.
The massive hunt for Mexican the drug kingpin crosses borders. But for Riley, it’s personal.
“I worked very hard both along the border and in Chicago to make sure this guy got locked up,” he said.
Riley led Chicago’s Drug Administration office for years. And it was here in Chicagoland, that he watched the Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel move billions in illegal narcotics through the city.
“He is responsible just in Chicago, my tenure there for literally almost tons of cocaine and heroin being brought into the city in the Midwest,” said Riley. “And I don't have to tell you what heroin does, just look around the country today it's an epidemic. We see people dying of heroin abuse … And Chapo's a big part of that.”
Riley is working with his counterparts abroad to make sure Guzman is caught.
“His reach is not just to the United States. It's actually worldwide.”
Which is why Mexican troops have been deployed to Guzman’s hometown of Badiraguato – in the Sinaloa region of Mexico. Soldiers man checkpoints. But locals who consider him a Robin Hood of sorts - are in no hurry to assist law enforcement.
“Here people like him, we love and respect him," said Maria, a Badiraguato resident, who did not her last name used.
“He is a hard-working man and it is okay with us that he escaped," Karla Janeth, also a Badiraguato resident, who did not her last name used.
This adoration for El Chapo making the search for the elusive El Chapo even more difficult.
“This is a long fight,” said Riley. “We’re in it for a long haul.”