Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán may be locked up in a New York prison cell awaiting trial on charges including drug trafficking and homicide, but for Toronto Blue Jays baseball star Roberto Osuna the notorious drug lord is a hero.
In an interview with the Canadian newspaper the Toronto Star, the 23-year-old pitcher — who like Guzmán is a native of the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa — said:
“People where I live love that guy. We all love that guy because he was a really kind person to us.”
Osuna was born in the town of Juan José Rios, Sinaloa, but raised in the nearby coastal city of Los Mochis.Guzmán was recaptured in the same city in January 2016 after escaping from prison in July of the previous year.
At the age of 12, Osuna dropped out of school and went to work with his father in the vegetable fields in the surrounding countryside.
Like his son, Roberto Osuna Sr. was also a pitcher and played in the Mexican baseball league, but when he retired from the sport he began working as a farm laborer to support his family.
The first year after his retirement was particularly difficult as Osuna Sr. struggled to make ends meet.
The sportsman explained to the Star that Guzmán, who as head of the Sinaloa Cartel controlled a billion-dollar criminal empire, would often help out people who were having it tough.
“For me, he helped a lot of people, way more than what the government has done. He’s a hero in Mexico, I respect that,” Osuna said.
Openly expressing his fondness for the imprisoned capo is unlikely to endear him to Blue Jays management, the Star noted, but it also described his honesty as “refreshing.”
Osuna justified Guzmán’s actions by pointing out that drug consumers in the United States “are the ones who made the guy rich.”
“So I don’t think it’s his fault. If I’m doing something and it’s working out for me, I’m going to keep doing it, right?” he added.
The young baseball star, described as “arguably the second-most famous export from Sinaloa,” also said that his family had never been targeted or threatened by the Sinaloa Cartel or any other criminal organizations.
“. . . They don’t do anything to the ordinary people. Like, for me and my family, we feel really safe out there. We know how those things work. And we don’t really worry about that . . .” he explained.
Osuna still returns to Los Mochis in the off-season and even took a leaf out of Guzmán’s altruistic book by handing out toys and blankets to the less fortunate just before Christmas.
While he was happy to declare his admiration for his fellow Sinaloa native, Osuna was quick to clarify that he never actually met “El Chapo.”
Guzmán’s trial is scheduled to start in September and will be heard by an anonymous jury. Last month, reports suggested that the former drug lord’s family may stop funding his defense.
Source: The Toronto Star (en)