Federal Prison Officials Among 13 Arrested in Connection to ‘El Chapo’ Escape
Mexican authorities have arrested 13 more people in connection with the prison break of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the country’s attorney general’s office said.
Guzman, sometimes branded as the world’s biggest drug lord and who is also wanted in the United States, made a well-planned, elaborate escape on July 11. He dropped through a hole in a shower into a mile-long tunnel equipped with a modified motorcycle, lighting and ventilation, and has not been officially spotted since.
It was his second escape from a maximum security prison. After his first escape in 2001, it took Mexican law enforcement 13 years to catch up with him.
His July disappearance from Altiplano prison and revelations by an investigative reporter have left a trail of accusations of collusion in the escape of the man nicknamed “Shorty” for his stature.
Six days after his escape, seven prison workers were charged in connection with it.
The new arrests include three high officials from the federal prison system, sources close to the attorney general’s offices said.
Celina Oseguera was a coordinator for the prison system, and Valentin Cardenas Lerma and Leonor Garcia were directors at Altiplano prison, where “El Chapo” was held, the sources said.
The drug lord walked into the shower of his cell then disappeared out of sight of a surveillance camera watching him. It took guards 18 minutes to arrive at his cell after losing view of him. Nearly another half hour passed before his escape was alerted.
Mexico’s interior ministry suspected prison workers helped make the break possible.
A local journalist, citing investigation documents she obtained, reported that officials had plenty of forewarning that Guzman, who has headed the Sinaloa drug cartel, was planning an escape.
The government knew as far back as March that Guzman’s people were studying blueprints of the prison, Anabel Hernandez reported. Prisoners complained of excessive noise that sounded like construction work.
The documents were a collection of statements from interrogations. Mexico’s federal attorney general’s office declined to comment at the time, citing the ongoing investigation.
Sinaloa drug cartel has supplied much of the marijuana, cocaine and heroin sold on U.S. streets. Forbes magazine once estimated “El Chapo’s” fortune at $1 billion.