MOLOYA DE JUAREZ, MEXICO
The world’s most famous drug lord, escaped from a maximum security prison in Mexico for the second time in his drug-running career, a spectacular breach of security that set off a wide-ranging manhunt.
For the past year and a half, the leader of the Sinaloa cartel had been incarcerated in the Altiplano, a federal facility set amid farmland west of the capital that holds the top captured drug bosses and has been described as the country’s most impenetrable prison.
That changed when Guzman slipped out of the prison through a rectangular passage in the shower area of his cell that led to a nearly mile-long tunnel running out of the prison, underneath rolling corn fields and cow pastures, ending at a small cinder-block house that residents say was built after Guzman’s imprisonment.
Guzman’s escape is a staggering blow for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who had been building a strong reputation for arresting top drug bosses from all the major cartels.
Although the Nieto administration has succeeded in weakening some cartels, such as the Zetas and the Knights Templar, others are now ascendant, including the New Generation cartel in Jalisco. And the failure to hold the country’s most important drug trafficker reveals the weakness of Mexico’s justice system and will add to the perception that the state has become riddled with corruption.
“All the accolades that Mexico has received in their counter-drug efforts will be erased by this one event,” Vigil said. “It will be very difficult to capture Chapo if he is able to make it into the rugged Sierra Madre mountains of Sinaloa, where he was born and raised. He is revered and protected by the local population since he builds schools, churches and gives mVigil said Guzman is the only drug trafficker to escape from two maximum security prisons in Mexico, and the only one to escape from Altiplano, built in 1990. “This will only add to his legendary status.”
In February 2014, Guzman was captured by a team of Mexican commandos while he was sleeping in the Miramar condominium in the beach town of Mazatlan. The arrest came after a series of military operations, which relied heavily on intelligence gathered by U.S. law enforcement officials, that led to houses with their own elaborate tunnel network in the Pacific Coast state of Sinaloa that Guzman had used to evade capture for years.oney to the poor.”