Authorities in Mexico and across the border in the US sought drug cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman for over a decade. Their effort finally paid off this past Saturday, and in the end, a misplaced cell phone led agents to their man.
A mistake made by someone working at a safe house used to store drugs was the break the Mexican authorities so desperately needed to catch El Chapo Guzman, after a cell phone that belonged to one of his aides was left behind, officials told the Associated Press.
According to a US government official source, a wiretap then led investigators chasing the elusive drug lord to a beachfront condo were El Chapo Guzman was hiding.
Sources say that Guzman and his wife were finally found in a room at the condo, a military style rifle near him which he didn’t use.
The big break for Mexican authorities came on February 16 when the cell phone was found at a house El Chapo Guzman had been using to hide in Culiacan. The following day police had arrested one of Guzman’s top couriers who quickly revealed the location of the houses where the cartel leader and his men had been staying.
Officials — who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to do so — said when troops chasing Guzman came to the homes, each one had steel, reinforced doors and an escape hatch below the bathtubs which led to a series of interconnected tunnels in the city’s sewer system.
On February 18, Manuel Lopez Ozorio — one of El Chapo Guzman’s aides — was arrested. He told Mexican authorities that he had picked up Guzman, cartel communications chief Carlos Manuel Ramirez and a woman from a drainage pipe and helped them escape to Mazatlan, where they were finally captured.
El Chapo Guzman was one of America’s most wanted, and at 56-years-old, he had eluded police for over a decade after escaping prison in 2001 in a laundry truck.
Now the fight begins as to how his capture will be handled. At least seven attorney generals have already expressed their wishes to prosecute Guzman including those in Chicago, San Diego, New York, and Texas, where there have indicted him.
Federal officials in Chicago and Brooklyn were among the first to say they wanted to extradite him to face a host of charges for money laundering and illegal drug distribution, among other crimes.
El Chapo Guzman was the chief of the Sinaloa drug cartel which stretched to North America, Europe, Australia, and more recently, Asia.