Mexico drug lord escapes from prison via tunnelArchive
ALMOLOYA JUAREZ: Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escaped through a lengthy tunnel under his prison cell’s shower, authorities said on Sunday, marking his second jail break and an embarrassing blow to the government.
A massive manhunt was launched after Guzman vanished late Saturday from the Altiplano maximum-security prison, some 90 kilometers west of Mexico City.
The Sinaloa cartel kingpin, whose empire stretches around the globe, had been in prison for 17 months after spending 13-years on the lam.
After security cameras lost sight of Guzman, guards went into the cell and found a hole 10 meters deep with a ladder, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said.
The gap led to the 1.5-kilometer tunnel with a ventilation and light system, Rubido said, adding that its exit was in a building that was under construction in central Mexico State.
A motorcycle on a rail system was found in the tunnel and is believed to have been used to transport tools and remove earth from the space, which was 1.7 meters high and around 80 centimeters wide.
Rubido said 18 prison guards will be interrogated by prosecutors in Mexico City.
Until Guzman escaped, Rubido said, “the day had gone on normally and at around 8:00 pm he was given his daily dose of medicine”.
Some 250 police and troops guarded the outskirts of the vast prison, surrounded by corn fields, while a helicopter hovered overheads.
Soldiers manned checkpoints on the nearby highway, using flashlights to look at the faces of car passengers and searching car trunks and the backs of trucks.
Flights were suspended at the nearby Toluca airport.
The Altiplano prison in central Mexico State houses the country’s most notorious drug lords, murderers and kidnappers.
Guzman’s first break from prison was in 2001, when he slipped past authorities by hiding in a laundry cart. He had been arrested in Guatemala in 1993.
Marines had recaptured him in February 2014 in a pre-dawn raid in a condo in Mazatlan, a Pacific resort in Sinaloa state, with the help of the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Authorities had already investigated a strange prison visit to Guzman in March, when a woman managed to see him by using a fake ID to get in.
WANTED IN US: His second escape is sure to embarrass the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto, who was flying to France for a state visit when Guzman fled.
Pena Nieto’s government had won praise for capturing the powerful kingpin, a diminutive but feared man whose nickname means “Shorty”.
Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2015
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