Badiraguato, the land of ‘El Chapo,’ wants to build a drug museum to attract tourism

The mayor of a town that is the birthplace of several narc lords argues that local history cannot be denied and asks people to look at the ‘positive side’ of the project

Gateway to the municipality of Badiraguato, in the state of Sinaloa, birthplace of some of Mexico's most notorious drug traffickers.
Gateway to the municipality of Badiraguato, in the state of Sinaloa, birthplace of some of Mexico's most notorious drug traffickers.SAÚL RUIZ

The mayor of Badiraguato, José Paz López, is proposing to build a drug trafficking museum in order to attract tourism. The town is already known for being the birthplace of notorious drug lords such as Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and Rafael Caro Quintero, among others. The mayor says that the idea of putting together a collection for public display “should not scare anyone” and he is asking people to look at “the positive side” of the project.

In a video published on Thursday in Milenio, Paz López defended the need to recognize the history of the municipality. “No one should be denied. There are many, and we are not going to deny anyone,” he said, stressing that people should accept the fact that several well-known capos were born in Badiraguato.

Sources from the local government told EL PAÍS on Thursday that López’s statements were taken “out of context.” They said that a museum is indeed being built, but denied that it will contain exhibits related to drug trafficking.

In the video, the mayor of Badiraguato said that this initiative would give people “the perspective that it is not good to be involved in this activity” and how “harmful it is to use drugs.” He added that it is possible to create a museum around this topic, and noted that he would seek advice from experts at other cultural centers. “I am not clear about which figures are going to be included, we are going to listen to the specialists so that they can guide us,” said López.

The creation of a public space around drug trafficking figures would not be a complete novelty in Mexico. In Culiacán, also in the state of Sinaloa, the Chapel of Jesús Malverde was built 113 years ago, a space honoring the bandit who bore that name and who is venerated in some places as the saint of drug traffickers. The figure of Malverde was incorporated into popular religious belief along with other characters such as Santa Muerte (Holy Death), whose representations can also be found alongside images of the bandit.

Badiraguato, located 50 miles (80 km) from Culiacán, was the birthplace of other well-known drug traffickers such as Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, Ernesto Fonseca, Arturo Beltrán Leyva, Alfredo Beltrán Leyva and Juan José Esparragoza.

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