‘I broke into El Chapo’s son’s home after brutal battle – blood was everywhere’
A drug lord's abandoned mansion was "covered in blood" in the aftermath of a city-wide battle with police.
Luis Chaparro broke into the home of El Chapo's son Ovidio Guzman after his Sinaloa cartel were engaged in a bloody battle with Mexican cops.
Luis said there were “bullets everywhere” as he made his way through the blood-spattered rooms. “Inside it was like a was war zone,” he said. “I was like stepping in sticky blood all over.”
He went into Guzmán’s daughter’s room, where he saw bedding soaked in blood. In his extraordinary video, 50-calibre bullet casings clink underfoot as he makes his way from room to room filming the carnage left behind after Mexican police had raided the luxury home in Culiacan.
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Officials in the city in northwestern Mexico had told civilians to stay indoors as the authorities staged a battle with Sinaloa cartel gangsters. The battle even spread to a nearby airport where Mexican airline Aeromexico said one of its planes had been hit by gunfire as it taxied on the runway.
On the morning of January 6 this year, Luis had been tipped off that a major police operation was under way. He recalled: “They were setting up trucks and vehicles to block roads around Culiacan and setting them on fire…
“I was getting all those reports and I thought they were probably doing an operation against someone big… but I never thought they were going against one of El Chapo’s sons.”
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It was only when Luis got another tip, telling him that the operation was centred on the Jesus Maria district, that he realised how big the story was going to be. He continued: “I knew that Jesus Maria is the town where Ovidio Guzmán was hiding.
"He has a ranch, a beautiful house… it’s a state-of-the-art property in this very poor impoverished area.
"The ranch is outside Culiacan , about 40 minutes drive outside the main city in Sinaloa so when I read Jesus Maria I though ’s*** they’re after him – this is happening, they're going to get him.’”
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Luis rushed to the area, frantically calling major Mexican media outlets to tell them he was going to have the story.
He had to take elaborate precautions, booking three different flights and three different hotels, because cartel bosses had put a $60,000 bounty on his head over previous reports he had made on their activities.
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When he arrived in the city, the gun battle was still raging. Cartel forces were using SUVs fitted with armour in attempt to batter their way through the police cordon.
Luis made his way to Guzmán’s mansion: “There were burned trucks, burned buses, hand grenades all over… it was a war zone up there.
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"As we got up to Jesus Maria there was a checkpoint manned by Sinaloa cartel henchmen… a lot of sicarios on motorcycles driving around… “
Luis made it to the house and saw what he thought was a group of government officials, wearing suits, milling around outside the property. But he was mistaken: “They weren’t from the government. It turned out it was Ovidio Guzmán’s mum, a former wife of El Chapo who also has a $5million bounty from the US government on her for being involved in the cartel.”
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The woman, Griselda López Pérez, furiously told Luis to stop filming and to “get the f*** away”. Luis made himself scarce, but managed to interview a few neighbours. Guzmán, it emerged, had always been very generous to the locals and was something of a hero in the area.
But Luis realised that the mansion had been left unguarded: “It’s now or never, “ he said, “I needed to go in and see what happened inside his house … I needed to see how he was living.
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“I told the photographer ‘I'm going in’ and he said ‘Dude, if you spend more than five minutes in there we're leaving we're taking off and leaving you there.’”
Luis managed to find a hole in the wall and record his extraordinary footage of the drug lord’s lair.
The notorious former cartel boss is now serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison in Colorado, but Luis knows that his henchmen are still on the outside looking for him, and he can’ relax his vigilance, even for a moment.
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