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Old 06-08-2009, 03:58 PM
Sin City
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- con't -

"Chapo has yet to bomb airliners out of the sky, so there is no comparison to Pablo Escobar," the notorious Colombian drug lord, Corchado adds. "But in terms of swaying locals, the two men are similar. Chapo seeks protection not just by corrupting key Mexican officials, he also needs the admiration of locals who will serve as his eyes and ears against government forces."

Few Mexicans can claim to have spotted the elusive Chapo. Four years ago, I missed this privilege by a few days, according to a waitress who served me at El Rancho, a packed establishment just outside the northern city of Nuevo Laredo. Apparently, had I visited two days earlier, I would have been one of hundreds of diners to drop their forks and gape as El Chapo and a phalanx of bodyguards swept into the restaurant. The diners were allegedly ordered to hand over their cell phones and refused permission to leave while El Chapo feasted on a leisurely lunch.

When El Chapo departed, the bodyguards were said to have returned the phones to the bewildered patrons, who then discovered that their bills had been paid. The Mexican government is lucky the drug lords haven't thought of giving out more free lunches; it would be a great PR move.
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