You Can Lock Up Mexico’s Most Notorious Drug Lord, But You Can’t Make Him Shave His Mustache

Between his rise to power in 2003 and his high-profile arrest this February, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman may have been the most powerful man in Mexico. As the head of the feared Sinaloa Cartel, he oversaw the trafficking of countless tons of cocaine, and accumulated a net worth of over $1 billion. However, when Guzman was finally captured in February 2014, his ongoing struggle for power took a rather bizarre turn.

As a prisoner in solitary confinement at Altiplano, Mexico's highest-security prison, Guzman's sphere of influence should be limited to his cell. He is held under near-constant surveillance, and is prohibited from recreational activity and interaction with other prisoners. However, recent reports have revealed some curious inconsistencies—like a 1,000-man hunger strike that was allegedly organized by Guzman. The strike, which persisted for five days, was held to protest a number of (rather altruistic) quality-of-life issues, ranging from poor food and hygiene to insufficient medical care. This transformation from ruthless drug lord to human rights activist would be surprising enough on its own, but the fact that Guzman orchestrated the strike under 23-hour-per-day surveillance makes it even more unbelievable.

Mexican officials have contested the size and scale of the hunger strike, along with Guzman's involvement, but the one fact that has been confirmed might be the strangest of all. While most prisoners at Altiplano are strictly forbidden from growing facial hair, Guzman has been allowed to keep his trademark mustache. Not a television, or deliveries of KFC...but his mustache. Suddenly, our commitment to grooming seems pale by comparison.

H/t to the Washington Post

Image Credit: ABC News

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