Sinaloa Cartel’s most feared member, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, plotted then executed another escape from a maximum security prison. The Altiplano Prison, located 56 miles from Mexico City, held the billionaire drug kingpin where he faced multiple murder, racketeering, drug trafficking, and other charges stemming from Sinaloa’s deadly grasp on the drug market.
Guzman launched his escape from Altiplano’s shower area, where surveillance is minimal. After losing sight of Guzman and upon checking his cell, guards noticed his absence and immediately began searching the prison and its perimeter. Flights were also grounded at Toluca Airport, which is in close proximity to the prison. The escape marks the second time in 15 years “El Chapo” has slithered between guards and fences, although it’s believed his first escape was an act of bribery.
During his first successful escape from Jalisco Prison in 2001, he went from capo to making Fortune’s Most Powerful Men list, amassing even France’s president on the list. From 2001-2014, he managed to amass $1 billion in personal fortune by overthrowing other drug cartels and seizing control of the coveted U.S.-Mexico border, where billions in marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and other synthetic drugs are smuggled daily. In February 2014, Guzman was finally recaptured without incident in Mazatlan, where he was hiding with his two daughters and wife.
Wanted in the United States for similar crimes, Guzman could literally be anywhere. Mexican AG Jesus Murillo Karam all but promised Guzman couldn’t escape again, although he once hinted how his extradition to America would save money yet would challenge sovereignty. With just three years in office, President Enrique Pena Nieto — who vowed to severely damage Mexico’s drug trade by increasing military and Federale presence — is watching his already dim popularity slither away with this escape. With Washington already wanting him and questioning Mexican authorities ability to stop his operations from prison, ties between the country could be severely strained.
“El Chapo” has the ability to bribe nearly anyone, becoming somewhat mythical in Mexican lore. Born in Badiraguato, Sinaloa, and beginning his illicit drug career under Felix Gallardo, Guzman has been involved with drug trafficking for nearly four decades. The consensus is that if Guzman isn’t captured quickly, his escape from prison will be the last time authorities see him alive. Social media, even during his brief time in prison, has kept the legend of “El Chapo” Guzman alive although many other drug lords often go unnoticed. Plans for President Nieto to travel to France have been disrupted with this escape.
A press conference is scheduled at 7 a.m. Mexico time Sunday.
[Photo by Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images News]