Dec 11th, 2007 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News
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By Javier Valdez Special from Rio Doce

First came one man, accompanied by two, three more. He spoke with a thick, loud voice; grabbing the attention of the diners who at that moment numbered maybe thirty.

"Gentlemen, please. Give me a moment of your time. A man is going to come in, the boss. We ask that you remain in your seats; the doors will close and nobody is allowed to leave. You will also not be allowed to use your cellulars. Do not worry; if you do everything that is asked of you, nothing will happen. Continue eating and don't ask for your check. The boss will pay. Thank you."

The diners stayed where they were, surprised, expectant.

It was one of the first days of November. Eight at night. The restaurant, Las Palmas, on Xicoténcatl Boulevard, in Colonia Las Quintas, was suddenly filled with people.

Fifteen men entered the restaurant; including the boss, el patrón, Joaquín Guzmán Loéra, El Chapo; and his hitmen, his pistoleros.

The diners sat still, stupefied, embarrassed, and frightened. The fear and the paralysis, an attack of the heart; here in this tiny space, amidst the tables and wooden chairs, plates piled high with cabrería, bottles of cold beer, plates of pulpo and camarón.

It's said that El Chapo came in through the front door. He walked among the tables, squarely between the patrons; his entry more stalking than walking; tranquil and proud.

He greeted each person there. "Hello, nice to meet you." "How are you?" "I'm Joaquín Guzmán Loéra. A pleasure." "At your service."


He circled the room full of occupied tables, filled with families, couples, business men, associates who had gathered to eat and to drink. Nobody was spared the greeting, the squeezing of the hand, the benediction.

El Chapo retired to the private salon inside the restaurant where the house specialties are expensive cuts of beef and large shrimp.

A group of his collaborators and gunmen followed him into the salon. The other half sat with the diners, watching and speaking in low voices.

He spent two hours locked in the salon, dining on shrimp and pulpo, plates piled high with red steaks and chiles, sweating with their heat.

The meal ended finally. El Chapo left without fanfare; a moment later his gunmen left as well.

Then, the settling of accounts; before he left, he paid everyone's bill.


Javier Valdez is a crime writer for Rio Doce, the Culiacán, Sinaloa, weekly newpsaper. -- Michael Marizco

Leave a comment »

  1. To have been there, ladies and gentlemen, would have been our reporter’s wet dream. A good story of the every-day life of a drug lord.

  2. Oye “tu sabes”, there’s some pathos in your psychology here to use the term “wet dream” for an “opportunity” such as this one. Ok, maybe as a reporter you’d want a front row seat but, puh-lease, watch your wording. So this famed drug lord, pobrecito, wanted some semblance of normalcy to dine like gente regular. Sorry, he gave up that right when he got in the biz. And don’t tell me only the people affected by him are only in the biz either. Some big shot…he held those diners hostage and it sounds like you think that’s pretty cool. What’s next, occupy someone’s home and then give them a Walmart gift card for their troubles? This guy might have his own issues but you buying right into his drama shows your over-willingness to romanticize and publicize him makes you sound like his meat puppet.

  3. Maria, very well said, good job.

  4. Will, thanks for the support. The whole drug trade and all it implies just upsets me to my core. I am the mother of a young son and the ugly changes to society on both sides of the border is a direct threat to my child just as a citizen of the world. God help up all. I remember Mexico as a fun, beautiful place with old-timer musicians, delicious food and beautiful sunsets; not narcocorridos and drug lords who buy their own press. I don’t care whose to blame; if it’s the gringos for creating the demand for the supply or the mafiosos. People, de ambos lados, need to understand there is more to life than money, power and getting high. How about love, family and earned respect? Want money? Get a job. Wanna get “high”? Have a few beers and stay off the roads. Take from an “old-school” latina, that’s the kind of man you love, respect and wanna down a few shots with…;)

  5. hit me up.

  6. How do I know you’re one of the good guys?

  7. Chapo’s the greatest narco who ever lived! Why don’t you stop writing shit about him! He paid for their food!

  8. I’m an “old-school” good guy, we don’t explain ourselves, we let our actions speak!!!

  9. chapo is more old school than you could ever be. viva Sinaloa!

  10. You could spend all night defending drug lords on video comentaries on youtube so good luck with that. Fact is, when people are held frightened and against their will for two hours while pistoleros watch over them it’s all posturing and intimidation. Defend him all you want. You’ll be a busy guy. And if you’re muy amigo with him then tell him if he is really old school then he needs to respect regular citizens. If he wants to make a show of power do it to the other narcos. Sounds to me like other people just don’t want their children in the crossfire and he needs to be old school about that too. Viva Sonora!

  11. Chapo is a dog, plain and simple. One day he will be captured or killed and the world will be a better place for us all.

  12. It is easy to make the villain out to be El Chapo but the reality is that he was made who he is by market demand. If alcohol as a drink were discovered today it would be banned. Cigarettes would be banned. Both would be sold underground like alcohol was during prohibition and drugs are today. We will no more be able to stop the demand for drugs than we will ever stop the demand for alcohol, cigarettes or prostitution. Stop fighting this dumb war and just legalize drugs. It will ultimately prove to be the best answer. El Chapo is only providing a service in high demand in a normal market system of supply and demand. If not him it would be somebody else. I wouldn’t mind meeting the guy…

    The BajaGringo

  13. Hey Ron Hoff your absolutely right! He’s just a normal person who found what he was actually good at in life. Living in Mexico is tuff. And seeing someone like him doing what he’s doing is absolutely normal. I also agree with “tu sabes.” Chapo Guzman is a modern day Robin Hood steal from the rich to give to the poor! What he did at the restaurant thats some classy stuff. Viva Michoacan amáres!!!!

  14. Making Mr. Guzman Loera into a modern day Robin Hood may make for good tabloid material, but the bottom line is that he by his selfish actions, he held patrons hostage so that he could fulfill his own desires. The whole narco problem in Mexico, however, is a direct results of the government’s inability and unwillingness to care for its citizens in a proper manner, and that is why so many Mexicans are border runners trying to get into the US. Many nice people have no other way of generating income than to cultivate well camouflaged marijuana fields, which is “protected” by federales taking pay-offs from the filed’s owners. They turn the other way and allow this activity to continue on, as they continue to demand money from these landowners. There is a huge amount of corruption within the Mexican systems and the US will need to address this problem if it intends to get any kind of control over its borders.

  15. The US will never, ever, ever have control over their borders. As long as Chapo keeps up with his pay rate even the President will keep his mouth and turn the other way. just like you said about the federales “el guapo ortega”. The shit that happened on 9-11. The terrorists came in through the canada border. Seems like the US should keep their eyes on the other end. Don’t you think? A few million dollars worth of drugs coming in dont hurt anybody. Atleast not as much bodily damage that was caused by those terrorists. Even if the US does try to crack down on chapos drug smuggling, what are they going to do with the drugs coming in? You know what the US is going to do with it? theyre just going to turn around and sell it. Because that is to much money going to waist. Especially with the money deficit the US is in. They need some way to get money. And what better way to do it.

  16. that’s how the real players do it, i would have loved to be there, you gotta pay respect to someone who’s been so succesful in the bisnezz. yeeeeeee shit, even i would roll with him if it was possible.

  17. why would all of ya stop ur wineing man this is the fact when el chapo didn’t have a damm nickle to put food in his mouth no one said shit or helped him out but now ur trippin all over him because of what he dose everyone has to make there money some way the rich get rich out of the poor and thats the way it works next time somone else extends there hand out asking for help remember u may be choosing everyone future by rejecting helping them out EL CHAPO is like this way because u made him this way its the tuff way or ur dead if u would just let him do his thing no one trust me no one would be getting hurt!!!!!!

  18. The man is humble. He did not have shake any one’s hand if he didn’t want to. Sorry to hear that the patrons were held for 2 hours, but hey, that is the only way this man can go out and have a good meal. I bet he wouldn’t want to held people there but that is the only way to do it. I would’ve staid there and ordered the most expensive meal on the menu knowing that a legend is picking up my ticket! People in Sinaloa already know how he is. You respect him he respects you, you mess with him you’re gone!

  19. No one should be forced to live in fear, to worry, feel terror or to be afraid…fear begins with becoming scared and ends with a fight or flight response–in the middle is complete mental and physical terror because you don’t know what the outcome of the event will become from someone like this. In a public or private setting, noone should be made to feel as though the environment they are in is dangerous and that they must either feel as though they should prepare to fight or flee to survive. How dare he condition people to think that staying in his presense is an honor by paying for their food. These poor people did not have a choice This guy is nothing but a punk and coward who operates out of fear. Discusting swine. Sorry, no respect here…

  20. Chapo is a violent, worthless, piece of crap. He and all of his bretheren are not worth the oxygen they steal from us. He is an ignorant Mexican trying to make money off of other people’s sufferings. I hope he is captured or killed.

  21. He is a total badass. He’s my idol

  22. It’s long-past time that the anti-drug control freaks (governments and private citizens alike) stopped trying to tell consenting adults what they can or can’t do in the privacy of their own homes. The ‘drug war’ and all the problems that flow from it would disappear overnight if people would stop compensating for their boring, shallow lives by worrying about other peoples’ private business. Please learn to mind your own business (it gets easier). Legalize now!

  23. kathy winchel,
    Our XPresident Bush has given our country more grief than anyone ever history. Fear? forget it… We are in a permanent state of reatardeness. Everybody is suspect to us and we travel the world in fear!
    In no way am I backing up what Chapo is doing, but! like somebody mentioned, he on top of his game. The only solution to this continent wide problem is to make Marijuana Legal, not any worse than Alcohol, it will give Mexico a break for sure.

  24. I went to this restaurant recently with my sister, the owner wanted to know more about us and would not say anything, he expected me to be more open, I refused, it’s a nice nice restaurant but they do cater to this guy, all of them, it’s bad for my state of Sinaloa

  25. I am from Sinaloa and want to just puke when the typical sinaloense just makes good comments making this guy like the greatest shit that ever lived…..just want to barf on their faces, el culpable es el sinaloense en verdad….

  26. Joaquin Guzman Loera Alias “El Chapo” y Ismael Zambada Garcia Alias “El Mayo” Will never be caught these two men will forever be on the Run they are untouchable in Mexico let alone in Sinaloa they are what keep’s their Economy going the creat and support all the people in Culiacan if it wasn’t for them most people wouldn’t have Jobs if you really knew who are thee Owners of “McDonald’s, Starbucks Walmart, & Home Depot” In Culiacan you might be surprised That’s the reason why you should Keep your Eyes Open and your Mouth Shut!!! Don’t believe everything you watch in the NEWS

  27. loL@ 24, you should tell yourself the same thing buddy.

  28. I would have shit bricks, but that would have been awesome as hell!!!

  29. I find this article most interesting for what it doesn’t say.

    Guzman’s enforcers are variously refered to as “pistoleros”, “hitmen” and “gunmen”, but nowhere in the article are we told that they were armed or with what. Are we therefore to believe that Guzman’s “request” was not backed up by any persuasion at all? That all it took was the presence of fifteen men, a “may I”, and the promise of a free dinner to complete cow patrons in the restaurant?

    Well, I for one don’t believe it. The people in the restaurant were first held captive by armed thugs. From the outset, they knew what would be the consequences of the slightest resistance or disapproval. After that it really did not matter who was the “boss” of the hostage takers. No one in that restaurant was going to put his life on the line when faced with those kind of odds, and placed in that situation.

    This article wants to paint a pretty picture of villainy but does not tell us the whole truth. I, for one, do not believe it. Guzman and his hencemen are all garden variety criminals. The attempt to portray common killers as mannerly, “stylish” and “sophisticated” makes the writer just as bad as they are.

  30. […] when you go out to eat, you have to remove the cell phones of all the other patrons, and deny them the ability to leave, but then pay for all their dinners to […]

  31. I was there that night and I was not scared at all. You couldn’t see any of the “pistoleros'” guns and honestly I hardly had the feeling of being “held captive”. It is inaccurate however that they said from the beginning he would pick up the bill, as El Chapo got up after finishing his dinner, thanked us all kindly, and told us dinner was on him that night. During the 2 hours he was there I honestly forgot his presence, it was a shock at first but then me and my friends were even joking about it. Only in Sinaloa.

    jose Reply:


  32. Mafia l is full of frustrated idiots,they have no honor.Oh yea they will sell you honor,family and ton of other bullshit but come on people we all know who they are,they are no Robin Hoods,nor honorable guys,they are pathetic lowlifes,they have no education they are not able to work,so of course they will do anything for money,smart people never believe there stories about honor.Chapo has honor but he just dont gives a fook if in one of the street battles your kid gets killed,or civilian,i will never forget when honorable Italian Mafia (all go to church,all family men,honor,family)fired RPG but they didn’t kill mafia member no they killed 34 years old father of 4,they are miserable worms,all of them.No honor,they have no respect for there people nor they deserve respect from us,honorable people are hard working people,people who take care for their community and people in it,those are great and honorable guys,they mean something,but this worms,bastards i don’t care who they are Joaquin “Chapo”Guzman or Mateo Messina Denaro they are all the same,they make bad name to country they are from,and they don’t deserve respect.

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