What it is ain't exactly clear. However, here's what I know: Since December, several alleged narcos believed to have worked closely with Chapo have been arrested. One talked, said his boss was still moving around Durango and Sinaloa. He was notably caught by the marines (back in 2008); the marines have been used more and more of late because they are considered less corruptible/penetrable than other security forces, seeing as they're not stationed in enemy territory all the time. The marines tend to be used for high-value targets.
Another narco, reputedly responsible for transport of drugs through Sonora on behalf of Chapo, was recently caught in that northern state. An alleged associate of Chapo's was caught in Colombia, too.
Massive bloodshed follows in Acapulco; beheadings are accompanied by a note purportedly signed by Chapo. Chapo is not known for beheadings or massive violence. He is not known for drawing attention to his group; his subordinates know these are lines not to be crossed.
I've long had a theory that Chapo has made contingency plans: if he finds himself cornered or near capture, I believe he has instructed his people to fight back with serious force, to make sure the authorities know who's boss. It's just a theory, based only on his past smarts and savvy rather than any evidence.
It's apparently heating up in Sinaloa again too; a bunch of killings over the weekend all over the state. Sinaloa only usually heats up when the plaza is in dispute or someone wants to challenge Chapo et al's authority. Wonder what's going through the minds of the local narcos right now: do they know something we don't?
And the big new news: the army clashed with gunmen in Xalapa, Veracruz, on Thursday night/Friday. About a dozen of the gunmen died; a couple of soldiers apparently did too.
Several reports noted that Xalapa is normally very quiet. Indeed. That's why, according to a source of mine, Chapo owns a house in the city. He was almost caught a couple of years back, the source says, when the army came storming in on foot. Chapo apparently got away by helicopter that time, so the story goes.
The newspaper Reforma's Templo Mayor column the other day mentioned that this time around, the Army had been following intelligence leads all the way from the city of Puebla – another of Chapo's lesser-known strongholds.
Are the authorities on his tail? Are they finally giving the man a run for his money?
Jan. 19 is the 10th anniversary of his escape from Puente Grande, and Mexicans do love to celebrate their anniversaries with something big. Watch this space...