Documentary Questions Whether Drug Lord "El Chapo" Guzmán Actually Was Captured

Not everyone is convinced that drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, head of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, actually was arrested by authorities earlier this year.

Documentary filmmaker Charlie Minn, who's produced several movies about drug violence in Mexico, says he went to El Paso, Texas, after hearing of Guzmán's arrest in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico, and it didn't take long to hear people's disbelief.

"I heard people kind of mumbling, 'I don't think it's him,'" Minn tells New Times.

See also: -Filmmaker Bringing Documentary on Drug-Cartel Violence to Arizona -A Report from Juarez, Mexico, the Bleeding Front Line in the War on Drugs

Guzmán's capture was a huge deal. After Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011, Guzmán replaced him as the most wanted fugitive in the world. He had been captured before but escaped from prison in 2001, and there were multimillion-dollar rewards for his capture.

After his latest arrest earlier this year, officials said fingerprints, DNA, and handwriting analysis all prove the man they arrested is indeed El Chapo. Plenty of people remain unconvinced.

The Los Angeles Times cited a poll of Mexicans that found about 42 percent of people believed Guzmán had indeed been arrested, whereas nearly 41 percent said he had not.

Minn says this belief seems to lie in the general belief that Mexican officials can't be trusted, but admits that hearing from people during the making of his film, ¿Es El Chapo?, has made him a little skeptical as well.

The public hasn't seen Guzmán since his arrest, as he's being held in a Mexican prison. There are no plans to extradite him to the United States, where he's wanted several times over. Some say the photo of him taken at the time of his arrest doesn't look like him. The Sinaloa Cartel hasn't seemed to suffer with his absence. He had an estimated net worth of $1 billion, yet his condo in Mazatlán looked extraordinarily cheap.

Minn says the film is another attempt by him to capture the drug war through the eyes of Mexicans who are seeing it firsthand. His previous films focused on events around Juarez, the onetime murder capital of the world.

"The political angle [of looking at the drug war] is expected and that's fine, but I wish more people would look at the humanitarian aspect," Minn says. "Let's talk about human lives for a second . . . my films tend to do that.

While investigating people's disbelief in Guzmán's capture, Minn says he was surprised to find that a whole lot of people actually like the guy, as many people believed Guzmán helped the poor, created jobs, and protected and built up smaller communities.

"What shocked me the most about this film was how loved he was," Minn says. "It would be like people in Phoenix lauding the Baseline Killer. I guess the only difference there is that the Baseline Killer didn't donate to the poor."

Minn says his film is showing at the Harkins Valley Art on Mill Avenue in Tempe for a minimum one-week run starting August 22. Check out the trailer below:

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley