Devils, Deals and the DEA

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Why Chapo Guzman was the biggest winner in the DEA’s longest running drug cartel case

by David Epstein, ProPublica December 17, 2015 This story was co-published with the Atlantic.

For 14 months, the first thing Dave Herrod, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, did every morning was boot up his laptop and begin tracking a 43-foot yacht with Dock Holiday painted on the stern.

In the summer of 2005, the DEA had intercepted a conversation in which members of a Mexican drug cartel known as the Arellano Félix Organization discussed buying a yacht in California. Herrod and his colleagues studied the classified ads in yacht magazines and determined that the Dock Holiday was the boat the AFO members wanted. DEA agents then managed to get on board and install tracking devices before the sale went through. That’s when Herrod started watching the boat on his laptop.

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