Fred Grimm

Fred Grimm: Miami doesn’t mind hosting trial of ‘the Mexican Osama bin Laden’


They’ve donned black balaclavas, lined their victims up before cameras, performed mass beheadings, then released the bloody spectacles on the Internet so they could wallow in the public’s fear and revulsion.

They’ve placed victims’ bodies in chairs arranged in a town plaza, pinning warning notes on the corpses with ice picks.

They’ve flung five headless bodies onto a nightclub dance floor. They’ve left heaps of dismembered bodies of uncooperative police officers, soldiers and government officials in roadside ditches.

On a single day in 2012, they hung the bodies of five men and four women from a highway overpass, then delivered 14 severed heads packed in coolers to a city hall. A threatening note was attached to one cooler, though that seemed redundant.

They’ve engineered mass escapes from prisons, mass murders inside prison walls. They’ve massacred migrants. They’ve tossed grenades into festival crowds. In 2011, they firebombed a casino and machine-gunned patrons escaping the flames. Dozens were killed. That also was the year they placed five severed heads outside an elementary school — a warning to uncooperative teachers.

Human Rights Watch estimated that they murdered at least 60,000 people between 2006 and 2012 — not that the killings stopped in 2012. Thousands more were “disappeared.”

They’ve murdered government officials, police, soldiers, and at least 35 journalists. They’ve used child soldiers. They’ve forced women to become their sex slaves. Their terror tactics have turned local governments and police agencies into patsy subsidiaries.

Bloody operatives of the Mexican drug cartels are surely terrorists whose atrocities hardly seem less horrible than the stuff we’ve seen lately from ISIS or al-Qaida. The heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine they funnel into the U.S. has killed and ruined more Americans than anything Islamic radicals have contrived.

Yet when the Miami Herald reported last week that Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, most infamous of the cartel bosses, might be extradited to Florida and tried in Miami, there was virtually no fearful reaction among our state and national political leadership.

This was the crime czar known as the “Mexican Osama bin Laden,” who directed death squads against anyone who threatened his criminal empire. In 2011, a gang of assassins left 14 headless bodies in an Acapulco shopping center with a note signed by “El Chapo’s People.”

We’re not afraid to extradite El Chapo and try him right here in Miami. Yet some other logic, tainted by politics, prevails when it comes to the last 93 enemy combatants still housed at Guantánamo Bay at a cost to taxpayers of $3 million a year for each prisoner, a 100 times more expensive than keeping a federal prisoner housed on the mainland.

The Republican-led Congress, oblivious to the irony, has refused to lift the ban on bringing Guantánamo detainees to a mainland prison. Certain elected leaders, when it suits their politics, regard us as a nation of quivering wimps.

As if our super max prisons couldn’t contain these guys. But El Chapo, the killer kingpin who has already escaped from two maximum security prisons in Mexico? No problem.