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Meet the US special agent who obsessively pursued El Chapo



Seven years ago, US special agent Ray Donovan began an in-depth study of the Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman saga — and it quickly became an obsession.

Now, the tall, 48-year-old New Yorker displays behind glass in his office the beige T-shirt that prisoner 3912 — Guzman, the former head of the Sinaloa cartel — wore when he was extradited from Mexico to the United States on January 19, 2017.

Guzman — considered the most powerful drug lord on the planet after Colombian Pablo Escobar was killed in a police shoot-out in 1993 — has been sentenced to life behind bars, nearly two decades after he first escaped from a Mexican jail in a cart of dirty laundry.”To go after the highest level drug trafficker in the world is always a dream of every agent,” he told AFP from his office in the Chelsea neighborhood.

‘Full circle’

Guzman’s confinement in a maximum-security prison located in Colorado’s mountain desert brings things “full circle” for Donovan.”I don’t think many people thought that we would capture him,” Donovan said. “There is this myth that he was almost untouchable.”But “there was a team of people that absolutely believed that if we put everything together and we pursued him relentlessly, we would capture him.”

In February 2014 as head of the DEA special operations division in Virginia, Donovan oversaw the operation that led to Guzman’s arrest in the Pacific beach resort Mazatlan, in the crime boss’ home region of Sinaloa.

But “El Chapo” escaped yet again that July — this time through a 1.5 kilometer (one mile) tunnel.”We felt very defeated, because we had put such a tremendous amount of effort in pursuing him,” Donovan said.

But Mexican marines recaptured Guzman in January 2016.”They’re the crown jewels,” he said of that force. “They are Mexican national heroes.””If it wasn’t for them, and their partnership, their willingness to collaborate with us — there’s no way El Chapo would be in Colorado today.”

It took coordinated effort between 22 different US government agencies and Mexico, hundreds of people who Donovan said “put their egos aside” in pursuit of a common goal: arrest the drug lord accused of trafficking or attempting to move more than 1,250 tons of drugs stateside over a quarter-century.The special agent said that “El Chapo” was also “very influential in exposing the United States to fentanyl,” lacing heroin with the potent and often fatal drug and helping to foster the current opioid crisis.

New enemy ‘number one’

Donovan’s next target is “RCQ” — Rafael Caro Quintero, the co-founder of the now-disbanded Guadalajara Cartel — who in 1985 ordered the murder of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in Mexico after performing blood-curdling torture on him.There is a $20 million reward for information leading to Caro Quintero’s capture.”Until he’s apprehended, DEA will not stop. He’s number one. He is our priority,” Donovan said.

“It’s personal.”He said that after Guzman — who “had a lot more resources at his disposal than RCQ” — he is confident the agency will get their hands on Caro Quintero.Donovan would not say if Caro Quintero continues to traffic drugs, but believes the wanted boss is hidden in Mexico.

Model of pursuit

Donovan said evidence of Guzman’s guilt is so overwhelming that if the government presented all of it during court proceedings it would have taken eight months, versus three.Though the Sinaloa cartel is still active and controls drug distribution into the US, Donovan said Guzman’s capture provides a blueprint going forward.”

From that we also developed a relationship, a model to pursue every other drug trafficker, not only in Mexico but worldwide,” he said.Donovan said extraditing criminals, which the US has done for years from Colombia, is the way to go in Mexico and elsewhere: “The one thing that these drug traffickers fear more than anything else is the American judicial system.”Caro Quintero, for example, was arrested in 1985, tried in Mexico and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

But in 2013, a judge released him on a legal technicality, and by the time he was ordered recaptured, the drug baron had disappeared.Guzman’s imprisonment is less about the so-called US “war on drugs” and more about serving justice, Donovan said.”In the DEA we don’t see a war on drugs, we see federal crimes,” he said.”It’s satisfying to know that justice has been served.”

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Death of festivals dims Lamu hope to revive ailing tourism



Maulid. Food and Expo. Art, yoga and kite festivals. These are just a few of a slew of art and culture experiences that Lamu County used to dish out to the world and which boosted its tourism profile.

Lamu Old Town, also known as “the island of festivals”, had a splendid array of events and festivals ranging from Eid-Ul-Adhar to the Lamu Fishing Competition, Lamu Art Festival, The Lamu Cultural Festival, Lamu Yoga Festival, the Kite Festival, Shella Hat Contest and the Lamu Painters Festival.

But these events were put on the back burner as the tourism sector took a nosedive.

Coming on the backdrop of the Mpeketoni terror attacks in 2014 that also hit tourism hard, hospitality industry players say the vital sector is in the doldrums and want the festivals reinstated. Speaking during a forum in Lamu at the weekend, hoteliers and other players questioned why the county government has not been keen in reviving the events.

Hotelier Salim Abubakar said the county’s tourism sector was on the decline after the festivals were lifted. He urged Governor Fahim Twaha to restore the events and revive the sector.

“All the festivals that were introduced in the calendar of events are crucial. They served to attract visitors, both domestic and international, to Lamu. We need them back so that the tourism sector can be improved,” he said.

Marketing strategy

Former Lamu Tourism Association (LTA) deputy chairman Ghalib Alwy said the body, in partnership with the county tourism office started the festivals to attract more tourists. Mr Alwy said it is important that the events are retained.

“We launched those events as a marketing strategy for Lamu tourism. Through them, we were able to attract tourists from Kenya, East Africa and the world. This is after the terrorism attacks led to an almost 90 percent decline of the sector. It’s only through the festivals that tourists got the confidence to visit Lamu again. The events must be reinstated,” said Mr Alwy. Mr Mohamed Hassan noted that local tourism was still doing badly, attributing the situation to a section of foreign countries that are still having active travel advisories against their citizens visiting Lamu.

“The travel advisories still play a big role in scaring away tourists. We want as many festivals as possible as they have the ability to ensure the tourism climbs back on its feet,” said Mr Hassan.

Some of the festivals known and which are still being celebrated by many in Lamu includes the annual Lamu Cultural Festival that is marked between November and December, the Maulid Festival marked every January, New Year’s Dhow Race marked on January 1 and Eid Ul-Fitr marked every July.

The festivals are said to attract more than 30,000 visitors from around the world.


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Drama as delegates heckle DP Ruto during BBI launch 




Delegates heckled Deputy President William Ruto during the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report at the Bomas of Kenya over his remarks on the report

The DP was forced to pause his speech after the delegates started booing him after he appeared to express his dissatisfaction at the Youth leader Trans Nzoia County Alex Matere’s remarks about his wheelbarrow donations.

Ruto said by saying that Kenyans should not adopt 16th-century technology, Matere was referring to the wheelbarrows he has been supplying to Kenyans.

However, Ruto noted that the discussions Kenyans should have is why a 16th-century tool has millions of citizens still dependent on it in the 21st-century.

The DP’s remarks didn’t sit well with most of the delegates, which resulted in them openly expressing their displeasure and forcing him to stop talking.

Mbita Member of Parliament Millie Odhiambo appeared mainly pissed by Ruto’s remarks as he stood and jeering Ruto, drowning his speech.

He went on to ask for a minute to conclude his speech but the crowd couldn’t hear of it as they continued to jeer him after he appeared to hit out at the former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.

Ruto concluded his speech by calling on leaders to refrain from contests pitting the rich and the poor by quoting former US President Abraham Lincoln.

DP Ruto then proceeded to welcome his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta to make his remarks with the delegates still shouting “respect the president,” as he took his seat.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga also hit on the DP for engaging in early campaigns instead of supporting the President in delivering the Big-4 Agenda.

Raila said that Kenyans expect to be united for now but not campaigns of who will be the President in 2022 as they will handle that when the time comes.

The ODM Party leader noted that Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta should be working as a pair to bring a difference in the country.

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Uhuru maintains Raila is not government




President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday 26 October 2020 made it clear that Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga is not in the government.

Speaking at the Bomas of Kenya during the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, the Head of State explained that when he decided to come into an agreement with Raila, the mission was to find a way to healing this country.

“When we sat down to talk, something that was very difficult, for him and also for me and my team, very difficult. But when we got through to it and we spoke and we spoke again, we agreed that we are not here to share positions and we should put our various positions aside,” he said.

He mentioned that the two agreed to come together with a common agenda of ensuring that what the people of Kenyan have witnessed in 1992, 2005, 2007, and 2017 Kenyans shall never witness again.

He went on to make it clear that Raila Odinga never made any demands from the government.

“We did not talk about sharing government and as we stand today, he (Raila) is not in government. He is not in government; he never made any demands for the government. He never made any demands for a share of government,” he added.

The President pointed out that Raila Odinga asked for the two opposing sides to come together and fix what has been ailing the country.

He explained that this would allow the country in the future to be able to compete without the need for the innocent Kenyans blood being shed.

He went on to that the ODM leader for showing his patriotism and looking for a solution because he did not have to do it.

Uhuru also gave special thanks to his Deputy William Ruto for being part and parcel of the handshake and making the BBI report.

He revealed the three agreed that they would never talk about elective posts as they aimed to unite Kenyans.

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