In this case, the rain falls hard enough that soldiers have abandoned their posts for cover. Rather than risk being vaporized in a small aircraft by a lightning storm, we opted for the eight-hour drive back to the city where we'd started. I'd imagined us arriving to a gentle apology, that for some unexplained security reason the visit could not take place, and we'd be going home to Los Angeles empty-handed. When we land back on home turf, Kate and I part ways. I turn on the phone to the explosion of a two-day backlog of e-mails and text messages. What I didn't know, and what was not yet being reported, was that from the time the weather cleared, a military siege on Sinaloa was imminent.
Espinoza reclines in the passenger seat to rest his back. Evidently, El Chapo and his men, after leaving us the night before, had skirted through the jungle back to a ranch property.
By the time we hit the city, the weather has cleared. Twenty minutes later, Kate, Espinoza and I, along with Alonzo, get into two taxicabs and head to the airport. So Kate and I board the charter back to Los Angeles. According to media reports that didn't come until days later, a cellphone among his crew had been tracked.
El Alto, who'd spent his two hours' sleep the night before on a firm couch a full foot shorter than he, then waterlogged himself in the flatbed, elects to stay behind in the comfort of the hotel bed for the night and leave the following day. From the time the military and the DEA moved in on them, the reports of what happened are conflicted.
My head is swimming, labeling Trac Phones (burners), one per contact, one per day, destroy, burn, buy, balancing levels of encryption, mirroring through Blackphones, anonymous e-mail addresses, unsent messages accessed in draft form. Paradoxical indeed, as one among his detail asks if I will take a selfie with him.
It's a clandestine horror show for the single most technologically illiterate man left standing. Flash frame: myself and a six-foot, ear-pieced Mexican security operator. It's paradoxical because today's Mexico has, in effect, two presidents.
A source familiar with the cartel informed me on October 3rd that the initial siege had begun.