'This Week': Rep. Michael McCaul

House Homeland Security Committee Chair Rep. Michael McCaul on the arrest of Mexican cartel leader 'El Chapo'.
3:00 | 02/23/14

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Transcript for 'This Week': Rep. Michael McCaul
moment. Joined now by the chairman of the house homeland security committee, Michael Mcfall. Can you tell us the enormity of this arrest? What does it really mean to the average American? This is a significant victory for both Mexico and the united States. This is the world's most notorious drug lord that got taken down. He's really the godfather, if you will, of the cartels that has smuggled so many drugs into the United States, killed so many people in Mexico and around the world. And to bring him to justice, finally, after so many decades, is a great victory. And I do to want take a chance to applaud the I.C.E. Agents, the Dea agents that worked this case and the Mexican authorities that stepped up to the plate and showed great cooperation with the United States to make this happen. This is a huge event. It's sort of like, you know, again, the godfather, the Al Capone of Chicago. In Chicago, he's the number one enemy. It would be similar to Pablo Escobar in Colombia being taken down, after which the drug cartels began to unravel. Given what you've said, chairman, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S. Said that he thinks it's important that Guzman first be tried in Mexico. Would you like to see him extradited to the United States? I would. I think the Normal sequence is the Mexico being a sovereign nation has the first prosecution. However, there's a history here. He escaped from a prison in 2001. There is corruption in that country. And I would ask that the Mexicans consider extraditing him to the United States where he will be put in a super max prison under tight security where he cannot escape, and be brought to justice with a life imprisonment sentence. I think that would be the best course for not only Mexico, but also the United States in ensuring that what happened in 2001 does not happen again. And what's the likelihood of that happening? And I can see why you would feel that way, he escaped from prison 13 years ago. What's the likelihood they would allow him to come up here in a super max prison? It depends on the pressure our state department and administration puts on the current administration to do this. You know, I think their preference would be to try him first in the United States. But the track record is not good with this individual. This is an exceptional case. This is the largest, biggest drug lord we have seen in the world. Extradition to the united States, where there are multiple indictments in multiple cities, San Diego, New York, in Texas and Chicago. Deal with him in a safe way and bring him to justice. One final point, there were early criticisms on this administration in Mexico they were going to be soft on the cartels, and I think what has happened here is very significant in terms of the cooperation with Mexico. President Nieto has demonstrated that he is tough on these cartel S. He brought out the lazetes leader, arguably the most lethal cartel. And now the biggest fish ever, and that is el chapo Guzman. Thank you very much. Thank you for joining us. And our experts now, Pierre is back with us, and David Aguilar, the former border protection commissioner who for more than a decade, you tracked Guzman. And Mariana Von Zeller who covered Guzman extensively. I want to start with you, commissioner. You had what they call an intimate intelligence relationship with Guzman. Which means there was not a day that went by in your ten years tracking him day and night, just your reaction to having him captured. When you heard that. Martha, Pierre, thank you for having me this morning. And the reaction was one of relief. One of relief and tremendous achievement on the part of our Mexican friends and neighbors to the south. The fact that they were able to take him down, the way that they did, by not firing one shot, that tells me that the intelligence of tracking the operational of that intelligence for so many years was carried out the way we hope and pray these things go down. Tell me a little bit about what that was like during those ten years. How you did that, how to track him, what the communications were like? The communications were critical, especially between the law enforcement and agencies involved domestically and internationally. It was Mexican assets that took the point on this situation. When this happened, the intelligence all came together, they were able to make it happen with officer safety as a primary perspective. Turn to you, Mariana, why was Guzman so successful as a drug lord? What did he do differently? This was a guy who in less than a decade was able to transform a startup into a multi-national criminal organization. He was business-minded and business oriented, creative, submarines, tunnels, you name it, he figured out new ways of bringing drugs into the united States. Submarines? Which Chicago -- submarines, indeed. And tunnels. I got to visit one. It was amazing. 60 feet down, 700 feet across, connecting the U.S. To Mexico. Everything from ventilation to electricity took over a million dollars to build over a year. And law enforcement said it would take a month to make all that money back just from the drugs being taken here into the United States. And as we heard, he really focused on Chicago. Why is that? Absolutely. Chicago has the fourth or fifth-largest Mexican population outside of Mexico. And it is sort of the ideal center, distribution center, to have drugs shipped across the midwest. And pretty early on in 2006, he decided he wanted to make Chicago his distribution center even though it's alleged that he's never stepped foot in the city. Was there any time, commissioner, that you came close to catching him? There were several times. Several times the international law enforcement community came close. But a very cagey individual. An individual with a tremendous amount of support and infrastructure built up to escape and evade. One of the things that's absolutely critical here, is that the relationship built up between Mexico and the united States over the last decade is what got us to where we are today. Now we must bear in mind that there will be an effort to fill the void left by this individual. The fight will continue. We are not finished. But that relationship is absolutely critical and foundational to continue to impact on these international criminal organizations. Which is what I was going to ask you, Pierre, who fills that void and how quickly? How long does this take? He has a number of lieutenants and rivals who will try to fill the void. One official told me yesterday, think of these cartels as major corporations. In other words, if the head of McDonald's was captured or taken off the grid tomorrow, they would still be flipping burgers. They will still try to make and sell the drugs into the united States. How fast do you think the void's filled? The effort is ongoing now. It is happening as we speak. But what this brings to the international law enforcement community is a point of vulnerability. We must exploit it because of the head of the snake being cut off. This was a tremendous success and achievement. I can guarantee you that the international law enforcement community is celebrating what our Mexican friends did. And will have an impact on crime in Chicago. I certainly hope so. Absolutely. Thanks. Now switching gears to

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