Mexican drug lord “Chapo” Guzman presented to media after arrest
The world’s top drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman fled a morning raid through a drain, but was caught as he then tried to escape in a vehicle, Mexico’s government said on Friday (January 8).
Guzman, head of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, was bundled into a Marines helicopter on Friday evening, to be flown to the same prison from which he escaped six months ago.
“Today, the federal forces captured Joaquin Guzman Loera, the most-wanted fugitive in the world, and Orso Ivan Gastelum, demonstrating once again that there doesn’t exist a criminal beyond the reach of the Mexican State,” said Mexico’s Government Secretary Miguel Osorio.
Mexican Attorney General Arely Gomez confirmed he would be sent back to his old prison
“Guzman Loera will again be transferred to the Federal Center of Social Readaptation Number 1 of the Altiplano,” she said.
The head of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel was captured at a roadside motel after an operation that killed five at a safe house in the city of Los Mochis, in the drug baron’s native northwestern state of Sinaloa.
“Mission accomplished: We have him,” President Enrique Pena Nieto said on his Twitter account. “I want to inform all Mexicans that Joaquin Guzman Loera has been arrested.”
For Pena Nieto, the capture of a trafficker who twice slipped out of Mexican prisons is a sorely-needed victory after his presidency was tarnished by graft and human rights scandals and the shame of the kingpin’s flight in July.
It also provides a major boost for U.S.-Mexico relations, strained by the apparent ease with which Guzman gave Mexican authorities the slip after the United States requested his extradition.
Guzman now faces the prospect of being tried in the United States. But the process could take months, although U.S. Republican party presidential hopeful Marco Rubio called for the U.S. administration to immediately pursue extradition.
Once featured in the Forbes list of billionaires, Guzman has led a cartel that smuggled billions of dollars worth of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamines into the United States and fought vicious turf wars with other Mexican gangs.
Guzman, whose nickname means “Shorty”, first escaped prison in 2001 by bribing prison officials, and went on to dominate drug trafficking along much of the Rio Grande.
He was recaptured by Pena Nieto’s government 13 years later but again fled, this time through a mile-long tunnel which burrowed right up into the shower in his cell, capitalizing on the drug-tunneling skills his cartel honed on the U.S. border.
The escape heaped embarrassment on Pena Nieto, who had resisted a U.S. request to extradite Guzman and had said previously that an escape would be “unforgivable.”
Dozens of people were arrested over the jailbreak, though details of who Guzman bribed and how his accomplices knew exactly where to dig into the prison remain scarce.
Scant official details were available of his recapture on Friday, but it involved Mexican marines, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Marshals, a senior Mexican police source said.