The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.

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1. The Hunt for El Chapo

Patrick Radden Keefe | The New Yorker | April 28, 2014 | 39 minutes (9,825 words)

How the notorious leader of the Sinoloa Drug Cartel was captured:

At eleven-forty-two that morning, Peña Nieto announced the capture on Twitter: “I acknowledge the work of the security agencies of the Mexican state in pulling off the apprehension of Joaquín Guzmán Loera in Mazatlán.” U.S. officials had already leaked the news to the Associated Press, but Peña Nieto wanted to be certain that his troops had the right man. In the summer of 2012, Mexican authorities announced that they had captured Guzmán’s son Alfredo, and held a press conference in which they paraded before the cameras a sullen, pudgy young man in a red polo shirt. A lawyer representing the man then revealed that he was not Guzmán’s son but a local car dealer named Félix Beltrán. Guzmán’s family chimed in, with barely suppressed glee, that the young man in custody was not Alfredo. In another recent case, officials in Michoacán announced that they had killed the infamous kingpin Nazario Moreno, a triumph that was somewhat undercut by the fact that Moreno—who was known as El Más Loco, or the Craziest One—had supposedly perished in a showdown with government forces in 2010. (D.E.A. agents now joke that El Más Loco is the only Mexican kingpin to have died twice.)

More Keefe: “Buzzkill”

 

2. Walking Scar(r)ed

Natasha Gardner | 5280 Magazine | May 1, 2014 | 23 minutes (5,816 words)

A new mother receives a difficult diagnosis:

As a journalist, I frequently dig into the darker corners of life in an effort to extract not just facts, but also truths. At work, I’m meticulously—and among my colleagues, comically and notoriously—organized with spreadsheets, binders of notes, and boxes of documents. I tend to leave this orderliness at the office, so when it came time to have my first child, I never made a birth plan. I didn’t read books. I hadn’t even researched what could go wrong during labor. I figured women had been doing this for millennia, I had a good medical team, and my son and I shared a mutual interest in our mutual survival.

More Gardner: “Riders on the Storm”

 

3. ‘His Career Will Be Absolutely Fine’

L. Bear | The Toast | April 28, 2014 | 8 minutes (2,113 words)

A molestation confession, and a family’s horrible response:

Your mother will try to turn the conversation from Dad’s A Pedophile to You’re A Bisexual. You will tell her that he used to sniff the insides of your underwear, she will say, “You’d know all about women’s underwear, wouldn’t you?” and there will be this deep pause before the insults start.

Communication with your mother will become extremely sparse, and will soon be relegated to birthdays and religious holidays. You will offer the briefest of written words and she will respond with oblique jokes about Kim Jong-un. She doesn’t have an email account of her own, so she will use your father’s email address to communicate with you. Every time his email address comes up in your inbox you almost shit your pants.

More Toast: “Knight of the Swan” (Molly Minturn)

 

4. ‘There’s No Law for Me Here’

Nick Baumann | Mother Jones | May 1, 2014 | 25 minutes (6,328 words)

What happened to Naji Mansour and his family after Mansour refused to become an FBI informant:

Other members of Naji’s family have been targeted, too. In 2011, Naji’s sister, Tahani, was detained at the Nairobi airport for three days. “I’ve heard, ‘It’s your people'”—that the US is behind her family’s troubles with customs officials—”more times than I can count,” she told me. “I go to airports now and there’s this constant sense of trepidation. Am I gonna make it? Am I gonna get locked up again?”

“As a family we have always been mobile and traveling our whole lives, and as a result completely took it for granted,” she told me. “The removal of the liberty to travel was crippling.”

One of Naji’s brothers says he is frequently questioned about Naji when he crosses an international border. The other, a Marine veteran based in Virginia, was visited by members of the Navy’s criminal investigative service, who grilled him about Naji. The FBI even interviewed Naji’s uncle and aging grandmother in Rhode Island in 2009.

“They didn’t get to me, so they had to target my family,” says Naji.

More Mother Jones: “This Man Is About to Die Because an Alcoholic Lawyer Botched His Case” (Marc Bookman)

 

5. Who Will Watch the Watchers?

Nate Blakeslee | Texas Monthly | April 24, 2014 | 24 minutes (6,171 words)

When U.S. border patrol agents have shot and killed Mexican citizens along the border, there have been very few consequences:

A Corpus Christi trial lawyer named Bob Hilliard represents the families of both Sergio Hernández and Guillermo Arévalo. “Hernández was not throwing rocks. And I don’t think Arévalo was either,” he said. “But what if they were? Would a Laredo police officer shoot somebody dead for throwing a rock at him from a hundred feet away?”

Hilliard’s wrongful-death suit on behalf of Hernández was dismissed by an El Paso judge in August 2011 on the grounds that the victim was not killed in the United States and therefore not entitled to relief under the U.S. Constitution. “If I understand that correctly, it means any agent can do anything he wants to anybody as long as the victim is in Mexico and the agent is on U.S. soil,” Hilliard said. “Does that sound right to you?” Hilliard has appealed the ruling. His suit on behalf of Arévalo has yet to be filed.

More Blakeslee: “Crash Test”