Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been captured in Mexico, although details about his capture are scarce at this time.
As WPIX (New York) reports, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced El Chapo’s capture in a tweet posted in Spanish.
Misión cumplida: lo tenemos. Quiero informar a los mexicanos que Joaquín Guzmán Loera ha sido detenido.
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) January 8, 2016
“Mission accomplished: we have him. I want to inform Mexicans Joaquin Guzman Loera has been arrested.”
A U.S. law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also confirmed El Chapo’s capture to ABC News.
An Easy Escape
“El Chapo” (which loosely translated means “Shorty”) has been on the run from Mexican authorities since July 11, 2015, when he escaped from his cell at Mexico’s Altiplano Federal Prison.
Authorities say Guzman’s cell was monitored via video surveillance 24 hours per day, but there were two “blind spots” – the shower and the toilet – where the cameras couldn’t reach due to privacy. Guzman took advantage of that by building a nearly mile-long tunnel underneath the shower drain with the help of associates on the outside.
Security camera footage from Guzman’s last day in his prison cell shows the drug lord stepping behind the shower wall, fully clothed, and out of view. A few seconds later, he is seen returning to his cell bed and changing his shoes. He then ducked behind the privacy wall and was never seen again, until today.
Authorities say Guzman easily disabled and removed an electronic monitoring bracelet he wore on his ankle and left it behind in his cell.
It would not be “El Chapo’s” first time on the run from the law. In fact, prior to his July 2015 escape, Guzman had escaped from prison in 2001 and managed to evade capture for 14 years.
Six Months On The Run
Guzman’s escape sparked a massive manhunt for the drug kingpin, with Mexico receiving cooperation from the U.S. authorities.
In a statement made available via an ABC News report at the time, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch promised the United States’ cooperation in tracking down Guzman.
“U.S. government stands ready to work with our Mexican partners to provide any assistance that may help support his swift recapture.”
Guzman And The Sinaloa Cartel
Guzman took control of the feared Sinaloa drug cartel in 1995, after his partner Héctor Luis Palma Salazar was captured. Guzman would go on to turn the cartel into a multi-billion-dollar empire that brought marijuana, cocaine, and heroin into the United States.
Authorities say the Sinaloa cartel has used a network of underground tunnels underneath the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as aircraft, boats, cargo ships, and even a submarine, to bring drugs into the U.S.
Guzman himself became a billionaire in the process. In 2009, Forbes listed the drug kingpin as one of the “self-made” billionaires of the year. At the time of his 2014 arrest, “El Chapo” was believed to be worth at least $1 billion.
CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes said that the cartel’s business was based on terror.
“[Guzman] is a complete savage. What they do, and how they do business, is based on complete terror… They kill journalists, politicians, police officers, corrections officers. And then not just that person, but every member of their family.”
In fact, according to a 2008 Reuters report, Guzman’s cartel was responsible for 2,500 murders in 2007 alone.
This is a developing story. More information about Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s capture will be published as it becomes available.
[Photo by Eduardo Verdugo/AP, File]