Mexican authorities search building where Mexican kingpin Chapo Guzman’s escape tunnel led.
ALMOLOYA DE JUAREZ, STATE OF MEXICO, MEXICO (JULY 12, 2015) (REUTERS) – Mexican authorities on Sunday (July 12) searched a building under construction near the prison that housed the country’s most notorious drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, after he broke out of a high security prison on Saturday night for the second time, escaping in a tunnel built right under his cell, and heaping embarrassment on President Enrique Pena Nieto.
The kingpin snuck out of the prison through a subterranean tunnel more than 1.5 km (1 mile) long that ended in a building site in the local town, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido told a news conference on Sunday.
Armed soldiers and police were seen on Sunday searching the building and the fields surrounding it.
Guzman, who bribed his way out of prison during a previous escape in 2001, was seen on video entering his shower area at 8.52 p.m. on Saturday (0152 GMT Sunday), then disappeared, the National Security Commission (CNS) said.
Wanted by U.S. prosecutors and once featured in the Forbes list of billionaires, Guzman was gone by the time guards entered his cell in Altiplano prison in central Mexico, the CNS said.
Beneath a 50 cm (20 inch) by 50 cm hole in the cell’s shower area, guards found a ladder descending some 10 meters (32 feet) into the tunnel, which was about 1.7 meters (5.6 feet) high and 70-80 centimetres (28-31 inches) wide.
Prison workers were quickly detained over the escape.
Rubido said 18 officials from the penitentiary had been taken in for interrogation at the unit specializing in organized crime at the Attorney General’s office.
Security services called a meeting of their top officials and ordered a massive manhunt for El Chapo, or “Shorty”, and shut down the airport in the nearby city of Toluca.
Guzman became one of the world’s top crime bosses, running the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, which smuggled billions of dollars worth of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines into the United States and fought vicious turf wars with other Mexican gangs.
The flight of Guzman, who became an almost legendary figure in villages scattered in the sierra where he grew up in northwestern Mexico, seriously undermines Pena Nieto’s pledge to bring order to a country racked by years of gang violence.
The breakout happened in the State of Mexico, the home state of Pena Nieto, who took office in 2012 vowing to confront cartel violence that has killed more than 100,000 people since 2007.