“El Chapo” has escaped his captors from a maximum-security prison in southern Mexico.
Mexican Drug Lord “El Chapo” was incarcerated in maximum security Altiplano prison in Mexico State till Saturday. He was last seen taking a shower at the maximum security facility on Saturday evening. After failing to show up for the prison authorities, they declared him as ‘invisible’ and launched a manhunt.
A mile long tunnel was discovered leading from his cell to a construction site. It’s the second escape by Guzman in 14 years from maximum security facilities in Mexico.
Radio Australia reports:
The drug kingpin was last seen in the shower area of the Altiplano prison in central Mexico late on Saturday (local time) before disappearing.
“An operation to locate him was deployed in the area and on roads of neighbouring states,” Mexico’s National Security Commission said in a statement, adding that flights were suspended at the nearby Toluca airport.
The alarm was raised after “he was not visible” for a period of time and his cell was found empty, the statement said.
A tunnel more than 1.5 kilometres long has since been found in Guzman’s cell, which opened up into a building under construction outside the prison.
Authorities have identified 18 prison guards who will be interrogated in relation to the jailbreak.
Soldiers manned checkpoints on a highway out of Mexico City, using flashlights to scan people’s faces and checking boots of cars and backs of trucks.
The prison, in central Mexico, houses some of the country’s most notorious drug lords, murderers and kidnappers.
Guzman, 58, is the head of the Sinaloa cartel, one of the most powerful and ubiquitous drug-smuggling gangs in the world.
He was first arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and jailed for 20 years but in 2001, gave authorities the slip and made his escape in a laundry cart.
He was eventually recaptured in February 2014, in Sinaloa, Mexico with the help of US authorities.
This time around, he had only been in jail 17 months before finding his way out — a fact sure to embarrass the Mexican government.
Following his last capture, the government paraded Guzman in front of television cameras, showing the moustachioed mafioso being frogmarched by guards and taken to prison in a helicopter.
Guzman ‘public enemy number one’ in Chicago
Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel empire stretches along Mexico’s Pacific coast, north into the US and as far as Europe and Asia, smuggling billions of dollars’ worth of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines.
His legend status grew following his first jailbreak and folk ballads, known as “narcocorridos” — tributes to drug capos — sing his praises.
The US has offered a bounty of $US5 million for information leading to his arrest and the city of Chicago, a popular destination for Sinaloa narcotics, declared him “public enemy number one”.
The kingpin was previously on Forbes’ list of billionaires — until the magazine became unable to verify his wealth and said they believed he was increasingly spending his fortune on protection.
In 2007, he married an 18-year-old beauty queen, Emma Coronel, and is believed to have fathered 10 children to various women.
His wife was with him when he was arrested last year.
Guzman’s capture sparked protests in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa, where he is considered a modern-day Robin Hood and is immortalised in low-budget movies.
Following his arrest there, authorities found a home fitted with a bathtub that rose electronically from the floor, revealing a secret tunnel Guzman used to escape authorities prior to his capture.
More than 80,000 people have been killed in Mexican drug violence since 2006.
Guzman’s cartel was involved in brutal turf wars against the paramilitary-like Zetal cartel and other gangs for years.
Mexico’s drug wars escalated after the country’s former president sent in the navy and army to rein in cartels, a deployment which experts believe inflamed the problem.
In Ciudad Juarez, on the border of Mexico and Texas, more than 10,000 have been killed in violence blamed on battles for supremacy between Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel and Juarez cartel members.
Read more on “El Chapo” Guzman: “Stop The Drug War” by aleXsandro Palombo
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