Listen to "Chapo: Kingpin on trial" for free starting Nov. 1 exclusively on Spotify. Escucha este podcast gratis, en inglés o español, a partir del 1 de noviembre. Exclusivamente en Spotify.
The city of Culiacán belongs to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. It’s the capital of Sinaloa, the state in northwestern Mexico that gave his cartel its name, and the place where he built his drug trafficking empire. El Chapo is long gone — his trial on an array of federal charges begins next week in Brooklyn — but vendors in Culiacán’s public marketplace still sell hats emblazoned with “701,” a reference to the kingpin’s ranking on the Forbes billionaires list. Listen to the whole episode here.
When VICE News set out to make podcast about El Chapo and his trial, we knew we that Culiacán had to be one of our first stops. We arrived in June with a plan to meet-up with Miguel Angel Vega, a journalist for the intrepid local newspaper RíoDoce, which specializes in covering organized crime and corruption. Miquel Angel also works as a fixer, which means he guides foreign journalists who come to cover the drug trade.
In the first episode of our show, Miguel Angel shows us around his hometown and introduces us to a heroin trafficker, who explains how his “mini” version of the Sinaloa cartel smuggles drugs to cities across the U.S. We also visit the scene of a murder, witnessing firsthand the impact of cartel violence on daily life in the city. Miguel Angel knows the danger all too well: He was forced to leave Culiacán last year after cartel gunman killed his friend and colleague.
Listen to Episode 1:
Cover image: "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted as he arrives at Long Island MacArthur airport in New York, U.S., January 19, 2017, after his extradition from Mexico / Reuters.