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"For someone as powerful as Caro Quintero was, and is, it was certainly true," said the U.S. official, who agreed to discuss the matter only on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly. "Even without telephone communications you can transmit a lot of instructions that then are followed."
David Weinstein, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Miami, said the biggest concern in keeping Guzman in a Mexican prison will be his ability to continue running his global drug empire.
"It could be argued that he would be doing the same thing from a jail, and just bide his time," said Weinstein who previously ran the narcotics section in Miami.
Weinstein said Guzman almost certainly had some help from various corners of the Mexican government in evading capture for so long. That's likely information that could be helpful to U.S. prosecutors, but also potentially embarrassing to Mexico, a risk that Pena Nieto can manage with the drug lord behind bars in the Altiplano prison in the state of Mexico, a short drive from the capital.
Keeping hold of Guzman also appears to have become a point of national pride for the Pena Nieto administration.
"We think he's being perfectly guarded and watched, and we don't think it's necessary to do anything else," Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, the country's highest law-enforcement official, told The Associated Press. "He will be very isolated. He won't be allowed to continue with his operations."