July 12, 2015 6:38:04 pm
Top drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has done what Mexican authorities promised would not happen again after his re-capture last year-escaped for a second time from a maximum security prison.
Mexico’s top security official says top drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escaped through an elaborate tunnel in his cell.
Security Commission Monte Alejandro Rubido says the tunnel was more than 1,500 meters (yards) long and had ventilation and stairs. Officials also found a motorcycle that was used to remove dirt, Rubido said Sunday.
Guzman is the head of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, which has an international reach and is believed to control most of the major crossing points for drugs at the US border with Mexico.
Associated Press journalists near the Altiplano prison, 90 kilometers (56 miles) west of Mexico City, said the roads were being heavily patrolled by Federal Police, who had also set up checkpoints. Flights were also suspended at Toluca airport near the penitentiary in the state of Mexico.
Guzman was last seen about 9 pm on Saturday in the shower area of the Altiplano prison, according to a statement from the National Security Commission issued early Sunday. After a time, he was lost by the prison’s security camera surveillance network. Upon checking his cell, authorities found it empty.
Guzman’s escape is a blow to the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto, which has received plaudits for its aggressive approach to top drug lords. Since the government took office in late 2012, Mexican authorities have nabbed or killed six of them, including Guzman.
Guzman was caught by authorities for the first time in Guatemala in 1993, extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison on drug-trafficking related charges. He escaped from Puente Grande, another Mexican maximum-security prison in western Jalisco state, in 2001 with the help of prison guards. The lore says he escaped in a laundry cart, although there have been several versions of how he got away.
He was re-captured in February 2014 after eluding authorities for days across his home state of Sinaloa, for which the cartel is named. He was listed as 56 years old last year, though there are discrepancies in his birth date.
Guzman faces multiple federal drug trafficking indictments in the US as well as Mexico, and was on the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted list. The US has said it would file an extradition request, though it’s not clear if that has already happened.
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