The one of the world’s largest Mexican drug cartel leaders, Joaquín Guzmán, escaped from a Mexican maximum-security prison late Saturday evening. A search for the fugitive began immediately.
According to the Mexican national security commissioner, Monte Alejandro Rubido, Guzman was given medication and then disappeared from the sight of prison security cameras. When his absence was discovered, prison guards located a gap in his cell which, through a ladder, led to a mile-long tunnel and aided in his flight.
Altiplano penintentary, described as Mexico’s impenetrable prison, is located roughly 50 miles west of Mexico City. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, on a state visit to France, said: “This represents, without a doubt, an affront to the Mexican state.”
“Chapo’s escape is extremely disappointing to the United States. Within 48 hours, Chapo will reassume control of the Sinaloa cartel, which means more violence for Mexico and more drugs to the U.S.,” said Mike Vigil, former director of international operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Despite repeated attempts to extradite Guzman, the Mexican government refused to turn him over to American authorities. Attorney General Loretta Lynch released a statement which read: “The U.S. government stands ready to work with our Mexican partners to provide any assistance that may help support his swift recapture.”
Presiding over a drug empire which reputedly spans North America and reaching as far as both Europe and Australia, Guzman’s Sinaola cartel is alleged to control narcotics distribution significant enough to earn him numerous indictments and assisted Guzman’s amassing a fortune in excess of $1 billion.
This is not the first escape for the drug kingpin. In 2001, Guzman escaped from Puente Grande prison in a laundry cart, reportedly with the help of prison guards.[washingtonpost]