After six months on the run from his second successful escape from prison, Mexican cartel drug kingpin, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, has been captured and was sent back to the same maximum security prison from which he originally escaped.
Guzman used an elaborate underground tunnel to break out of a federal prison in July.
He was recaptured Friday after the Mexican navy raided a home in the coastal city of Los Mochis. Mexican forces transferred Guzman from an armored vehicle and into a helicopter late Friday night after his arrest in his native Sinaloa state.
Guzman’s prison escape — his second one in 14 years — embarrassed the Mexican government and made him a symbol of ineptitude and corruption.
The home where he was captured Friday had been under surveillance for a month, Attorney General Arely Gomez said.
Guzman arrived at the house Thursday, and authorities raided it in the wee hours of Friday. When the Mexican navy arrived, they encountered gunfire from inside, according to Gomez. The navy said five suspects died and six others were arrested. One navy personnel was injured.
During the shootout, Guzman and an aide allegedly escaped through a manhole that led to the city’s sewer system. Soldiers chased him through the sewer tunnels, but he made it to the surface, where he stole a car, authorities said. He almost escaped again, but authorities located the car on a highway outside the city and nabbed him.
Guzman’s representatives had contacted producers and actresses with the intention of making his biopic, which helped investigators locate him, the attorney general said. She did not provide specifics on how the calls led to his arrest.
Some of Guzman’s alleged accomplices have been detained as well. A man in charge of building the tunnel he used to escape in July was arrested, along with the owner of the land the tunnel was in. So was an attorney who allegedly paid for the tunnel, as was Guzman’s brother-in-law.
In the latest escape in July, Guzman disappeared after stepping into the shower. He slipped through a hole in his cell block and into a lighted, ventilated tunnel. From there, he took off for San Juan del Rio, where two small planes awaited, Gomez said. Two pilots were among the dozens of people arrested.
Since his escape, there have been reported sightings and near-misses. In October, authorities said they were hot on his trail, only to have him slip out of sight, though not before apparently breaking his leg.
After his capture this week, a relieved President Enrique Peña Nieto applauded security forces. “Mission accomplished: We have him,” he tweeted.
The Sinaloa state native started his drug cartel in 1980. He became a powerful figure, leading a multibillion dollar empire that supplied much of the marijuana, cocaine and heroin sold on American streets.
U.S. indictments claim the organization used assassins and hit squads to show its muscle. The Justice Department previously sought his extradition to the United States, and may do so again.
Authorities first arrested Guzman in Guatemala in 1993. They extradited him to Mexico and after his conviction, sent him to the Puente Grande maximum security prison. In 2001, he escaped using a laundry cart and evaded Mexican authorities for years. His freedom ended in 2014, when he was arrested in the Mexican resort town of Mazatlan.
Guzman was then sent to Altiplano Federal Prison in Almoloya de Juarez, where he made the daring July escape. Authorities paraded him before journalists late Friday night, then put him on a helicopter. The attorney general said Guzman is headed back to the same prison from which he escaped last year.
Lets see how long El Chapo stays in prison this time around.