Mexican authorities are searching hotels, hospitals and funeral homes while distributing 100 000 leaflets with recent pictures of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in a massive manhunt for the fugitive drug lord, officials said on Wednesday.
The escape marks the second time since 2001 that Guzman managed to flee a maximum-security prison.
If anyone was capable of pulling off such a feat, it was Guzman, who is believed to have at least a quarter-century of experience in building large, sophisticated tunnels to smuggle drugs under the U.S.-Mexico border and to escape from hideouts as authorities closed in. When he was arrested in Mexico past year, the United States asked to have him extradited, in part because of concerns of an escape.
The government also showed a video of the 1.5-kilometer (one-mile) escape tunnel, which had a motorcycle rigged on a special rail system with two metal carts in front of it.
CCTV released by Mexican authorities apparently shows Guzman – known as El Chapo, or “Shorty” – putting on his shoes and then disappearing behind a shower wall, where he escaped through a hole in the floor and into a tunnel below.
He also threatened United States presidential candidate Donald Trump who said the drug baron’s escape revealed how corrupt officials were in Mexico. But the focus is mostly on the tunnel, which is 4,921 feet long and was both ventilated and illuminated.
Three senior prison officials, including the director of the jail, have been dismissed.
(Credit: Krupskaia Alis/CNN) This photograph shows the tunnel exit Guzman used to escape prison.
While Guzman paced back and forth several times between the bathroom area and his bed before vanishing, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said it was common behaviour for prison inmates.
Once it was discovered that the drug lord had escaped from his cell, it still took the prison authorities 30 minutes to raise the alarm. Whoever helped in the plot likely had the architectural plans for the prison that pointed them toward the shower area, the official said.
Following his escape, the Chicago Crime Commission has again declared Guzman “Public Enemy Number One”.
“Now is not the time to resign,” Osorio Chong said at a news conference.
Guzman’s rise to head of the Sinaloa cartel made him one of the world’s most wanted drug trafficker. “And then not just that person, but every member of their family”.
The 60-square-foot room is inside the wing for the country’s most unsafe criminals, where the drug lord spent the past year and a half in solitary confinement under 24-hour-surveillance, a monitoring bracelet on his wrist. The drug empire has allowed Guzman to accumulate a major fortune, which was estimated to be some $1 billion in 2009.