In the 100 days since El Chapo escaped from Altiplano federal prison Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has narrowly evaded being re-captured on several occasions. Several days ago, the world’s most dangerous drug trafficker barely escaped being detained and suffered injuries to his leg and face as he “engaged in a hasty retreat,” the Mexican government said.
El Chapo has long been known to the public as the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, which controls roughly one third of the illegal narcotics market in the U.S.
El Chapo has been an especially prevalent figure in the national and international news ever since he broke out of prison on July 11; today is his 101st day on the run. Of Mexican citizens surveyed, 77 percent believe that officials within the Mexican government and justice system helped the cartel boss to escape. The skepticism of the Mexican public is, perhaps, understandable. According to CNN, conspirators dug a tunnel over a mile long that was 5-feet-6-inches high and nearly 3-feet across beneath the jail — wide enough for motorcycles to run up and down the aisle. New video from El Chapo’s cell, where he was confined for a mere 17 months after evading authorities for over 10 years since his 2001 escape from Guadalajara.
Acting on information received from U.S. intelligence, Mexican Marines zeroed in on the fugitive drug kingpin at a ranch near Cosala in the rugged Sierra Madre mountains in western Mexico.
Marines raided the ranch in helicopters, but were forced to turn back after taking fire from suspected Sinaloa security forces loyal to El Chapo. Marines later entered the camp on foot and discovered a variety of evidence indicating that El Chapo had recently been in residence on the ranch including cell phones, medication and two-way radios. Unfortunately, Guzman and his associates are believed to have fled on ATVs.
Victor Michel, an anchor with Bloomberg, had the following to say about “The Golden Triangle” — the terrain in northern Mexico across which the race to capture El Chap is playing out.
“This is a very rugged area of northwest mexico known as a very lawless region where drug cartels operate with total impunity. It is quite similar to the mountains in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan. Think back to december of 2001 when US special forces attempted to capture Osama Bin Laden there. Authorities in this Mexican operation are facing the same challenges. We’re talking about difficult terrrain, patchy communications, and a local population that is sympathetic to El Chapo and is possibly being paid to protect. In addition to this, the Sinaloa cartel is very well-armed. They have weapons that can shoot down aircraft as we saw last year when a Mexican military helicopter was downed in the region.”
[Featured image of El Chapo is courtesy of Creative Commons]