The Many Urban Legends That Aided The Myth Of ‘El Chapo’

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On Friday, the legend of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman saw a new wrinkle when the fugitive drug lord was recaptured by Mexican authorities after a dramatic, pre-dawn shootout. The head of the Sinaloa cartel had been on the lam since his July 2015 escape, but the party is over. The escape artist and drug lord returned to the same maximum-security prison that failed to keep track of him as he fled through an elaborate shower tunnel.

There are many established facts about El Chapo, but several legends exist as well. He’s a mythical figure who appears in tales throughout Mexico, and the internet has only aided the proliferation of this highly entertaining lore. On occasion, you’ll hear El Chapo painted as a gentlemanly, Salvatore Giuliano-esque bandit, but most folks who encounter El Chapo tell the tale of a ruthless drug titan who will stop at nothing to enforce his business. Here are some urban legends about the Sinaloa cartel’s finest, El Chapo:

(1) The vengeful lord tales: A couple of El Chapo legends fit nicely into the same category for their Godfather-esque quality. One such tale paints El Chapo as a jealous lover, who threatened a top state official when they became enamored of the same woman and showered her with generous gifts. El Chapo reportedly sent a note that read, “Send her another gift, and I will kill you.” A corollary tale saw El Chapo defending his niece from a car thief by directing his men to cut off the offender’s hands.

(2) The generous diner theory: El Chapo may have spent much of his life as a fugitive, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy a good steak. In fact, many claim to have broken bread beside the legendary kingpin. One bit of regional lore holds that Chapo would have his bodyguards “frisk” restaurant goers before entering an establishment. The group would seize cellphones and weapons for the duration of a meal. Then El Chapo would whip out his wallet and pay for the entire restaurant’s tab.

(3) The non-tunnel getaway theory: El Chapo’s first prison stint lasted eight years, but no one ever figured out how he escaped. The prevailing theory is that Chapo squirreled himself away inside a laundry cart, and some cooperative employee pushed him towards freedom. However, Chapo led such a life of privilege within the prison that many folks believe that “he simply walked out of one of the doors.” Whatever the case, officials brought charges against the prison warden and seventy others in the wake of El Chapo’s first escape.

(4) The risky pet monkey theory: This is the one legend of the bunch that has been verified (by The Telegraph) as true. In October, El Chapo narrowly avoided recapture, and his brush had everything to do with his twin daughters’ pet monkey, Boots. The drug lord’s family was forced to leave Boots during Chapo’s second prison stint, and Chapo would not stand for this sadness. He directed his brother-in-law to retrieve the monkey, but the resulting travel permits alerted authorities to Chapo’s whereabouts. The brother-in-law landed in custody while Chapo fled with minor wounds.

(5) The never-in-prison theory: This wacky version of the El Chapo legend would have folks believe that Chapo never went to prison at all. Therefore, he never escaped prison. How is the possible? The legend holds that Chapo paid off a lookalike to do hard time in his place, and the payment must have been a very rich one indeed.

(6) The Donald Trump bounty theory: This theory was bolstered after El Chapo’s careless son ended up tweeting threats at Donald Trump, who subsequently called in the FBI for reinforcements. All of these factors made it far too easy to believe that Chapo came for Trump with a $100 million bounty. The mainstream media largely picked up on the story, but Snopes proved this story untrue.

Just when you thought you’ve read it all, there’s a new addition to this collection of urban legends. This mental creation was spawned as El Chapo returned to prison yet again.

(7) The Kanye West Urban Legend: El Chapo was recaptured at almost exactly the same time Kanye West released (and subsequently deleted) a new single. Whether this paints a mythical association between the two men, or whether Chapo is simply a fan of questionable music, well, these tweeters know all. Is it true? Anything is possible when it comes to Yeezy.

(Via CNN, KGUN 9 ABC, Vox, Snopes, Wall Street Journal & The Telegraph)