Over the past 12 years, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán made astronomical amounts of money from the drug trade, which helped him to buy off politicians and law-enforcement officials.
His was the ultimate rags-to-riches story of a peasant from the Sinaloa mountains who made it onto Forbes list of the world’s biggest billionaires.
Yet this man’s mother still lived in a sparsely furnished house, deep in the Sinaloa mountains. There were no plasma TVs in her residence, and no extravagant luxuries like private zoos. Only a few rooms with family portraits and an old TV decorate the home of Consuelo Loera, the 85-year-old mama of the world’s most wanted criminal.
Loera, a mother of 11, who hails from a family of Sinaloa farmers, is famous for trying to stay away from the spotlight. The last time she granted an interview to a journalist was nine years ago, according to Univision.com.
After hours of negotiations, and two separate visits to her home, she agreed to speak to a Univision News crew about her son’s recent arrest.
Her main motivation for speaking was to send a message to her son.
“I want to tell him to look for God, before it’s too late,” Loera said in the interview, which only lasted six minutes.
“He already experienced what is out there in the world, so now he has to look for God, because God is the only one that can protect him and help him to sort out his problems,” Loera said.
Loera said that she was praying for her son’s safety and also asked Mexican authorities to treat EL Chapo properly.
“God will reward you when judgement day comes,” said Loera, who has been part of an evangelical church for the past two decades.
Loera did not speak about her son’s last days in freedom, or whether she thought that he was guilty of the murder, drug trafficking and conspiracy charges that he faces in Mexico and the United States.
Her main purpose, she told Univision News, was to speak “as a mother,” about El Chapo, whom she calls Archivaldo (that is his original middle name).
“We raise [children], and while they are under our responsibility, we know what they’re up to, right?" she said. "But then they don’t depend on us and they go to make a living in the best way possible. Whether they do good things or bad things, we are still their mothers, and they are still our sons."
Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.