“You are not soldiers," Guzmán, who made a dramatic escape from a high-security Mexican jail earlier this year, is reported to have said to Baghdadi in a leaked email. "You are nothing but lowly p*ssies."
According to these reports, Guzmán is angry that the Islamic State, which controls significant areas in Syria and Iraq and has smaller affiliates in a number of other regions, has destroyed one of his shipments of drugs in the Middle East, where the Mexican drug cartels are apparently enjoying a booming trade.
The story has captivated readers online, apparently excited by the idea that two of America's great bogeymen will face off in a battle, "Alien vs. Predator"-style. However, the thin trail of evidence suggests that there may be far less to this story than meets the eye.
Most English-language accounts of the story trace its origins to Cartel Blog, a small publication which published a report detailing Guzmán's alleged email to Baghdadi on Monday. "It turns out a Mexican blogger leaked the message after it was sent email encrypted directly to the Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, a prominent ISIS leader," the unnamed author of the post writes. "The blogger has intimate ties with actual Sinaloa cartel members, so it looks as if the warning is indeed legit."
However, it appears that the email appeared first on an American website called Thug Life Videos on Nov. 30, a website that publishes a mixture of music videos, news and satire. The story is quite clearly the latter. "We write funny 'satire' stories occasionally which we assume are taken as jokes, and generally they are," Steve Charnock, a writer for Thug Life Videos, told Snopes.com. "Maybe I didn't make this El Chapo story funny or weird enough, though. Or I just have an uncanny ability to ape how Mexican drug cartel kingpins talk."
Some Mexican blogs had reported that cartels had threatened the Islamic State prior to the Thug Life Videos article. These articles referred to the Los Zetas cartel rather that the Sinaloa cartel, however, and could not be verified.
Cartel Blog didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, so WorldViews reached out to Alejandro Hope, a prominent expert on cartels who is currently the security editor for El Daily Post. "It is completely fake," Hope said of the reports, listing a number of problems with the story that included the idea that Guzmán, one of the most wanted men in the world, would personally send an email (and that someone would dare leak it), Cartel Blog's "uninformed" assertion that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) could be considered a major drugs cartel, and the idea that the Sinaloa cartel would be directly selling drugs in the Middle East.
"The notion that El Chapo has drug shipments in the Middle East is insane," Hope says. "There’s no proof whatsoever. Even in the U.S. it is mostly an import-export business."
Outlandish stories about Guzmán and the Mexican cartels often spread online. Earlier this year, it was widely reported that Guzmán had threatened to kill U.S. political hopeful Donald Trump (these comments could ultimately be traced back to an anonymous Twitter account). Hope says these rumors spread out of the "mythology" that surrounds Guzmán, who is often portrayed as a "super villain that has his fingers all around the world." The reality is that the cartels are part of a "a network, an ecosystem," he adds. "Complexity is a much harder sell. It doesn’t make for good copy."