Mexican drug lord’s hideout becomes a tourist attraction

Mexico City, Feb 27 (IANS/EFE) The sun, sand and partying are no longer the only attractions in the Mexican Pacific resort city of Mazatlan, where the building used as a hideout by Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman has become the most popular place to visit since his arrest over the weekend.

The Miramar condominium tower, located on Avenida del Mar, has become a tourist attraction and the most photographed place in Mazatlan since marines captured Mexico’s most-wanted man Saturday.

Both tourists and residents flocked to the building where the drug lord spent his last hours of freedom as soon as the world press put this coastal city in the spotlight.

Taxi drivers are now offering “narcotours” that cost between 250 pesos and 300 pesos ($19 or $22) and include a look at the Miramar condo and visits to regular attractions, such as the Monument to the Family, the seaside walk and Paseo del Centenario.

“Since Saturday, I’ve made about 10 trips through the city and they’ve all asked me to take them to where Chapo was captured,” taxi driver Jaime Lopez said.

“The truth is that I’ve had a lot of work because it’s a novelty for everybody, and you give the customer whatever he wants,” Lopez said.

“I came to take some photos out of curiosity, I’ll take them with me as a reminder of what happened while I was on vacation in Mazatlan,” one tourist said.

The arrest of the 56-year-old Guzman, the world’s most notorious and powerful drug lord, has given a boost to tourism rather than scaring away visitors, and hotel reservations have “exploded”, Sinaloa state Tourism Secretary Francisco Cordova Celaya said.

“Strangely enough, we have seen a rise in the number of reservations. They (hoteliers) tell me that the telephones have not stopped ringing because people want to come to the port city,” the state official said.

Guzman fled to Mazatlan and took out a three-month lease on an apartment at the Miramar after marines nearly arrested him Feb 17 at a safe house in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa.

The drug lord, who was on Forbes magazine’s list of global billionaires, was captured by the security forces in Mazatlan Saturday without any shots being fired.

Mazatlan has now joined a group of cities, like Culiacan, that tourists visit to see the businesses, houses, murder sites and tombs of notorious drug traffickers.

One of the most visited places in Sinaloa’s capital is Plaza Cinepolis, where one of the brothers of Juarez cartel boss Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who was known as the “Lord of the Skies”, was gunned down along with his wife.

–IANS/EFE

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IANS