After six months on the run, Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman will return to the same maximum security prison he escaped from last year.
Guzman used an elaborate underground tunnel to break out of a federal prison in July.
He was recaptured Friday after the Mexican navy raided a home in the coastal city of Los Mochis.
Mexican forces transferred Guzman from an armored vehicle and into a helicopter late Friday night after his arrest at the home in his native Sinaloa state.
Guzman’s recapture came after his second prison escape in 14 years, making him a symbol of government ineptitude and corruption.
Chase through sewer tunnels
Guzman’s hideout where he was captured Friday had been under surveillance for a month, Mexican officials said.
Guzman arrived at the house Thursday, and authorities raided it in the wee hours of Friday.
When the Mexican navy arrived, a shootout ensued, Attorney General Arely Gomez said. The Mexican navy said five suspects died and six others were arrested. One navy personnel was injured.
During the shootout, Guzman and an aide allegedly escaped through a manhole connecting to the city’s sewer system.
Soldiers chased him through the sewer tunnels, but he made it to the surface, where he stole a car, authorities said.
He almost escaped again, but authorities located the car on a highway outside the city and nabbed him.
Guzman was shopping for biopic
Guzman planned to make a biopic, and his representatives had contacted producers and actresses, which helped investigators locate him, the attorney general said. She did not provide specifics on how the calls led to his arrest.
Some of Guzman’s alleged accomplices have been detained as well.
A man in charge of building the tunnel he used to escape in July was arrested, along with the owner of the land the tunnel was in. So was an attorney who allegedly paid for the tunnel, as was Guzman’s brother-in-law.
Guzman’s arrest culminates “days and nights” of collaborative work among Mexican intelligence and security agencies, the President said. He added that his recapture should restore Mexicans’ faith in their government.
In the latest incident in July, Guzman disappeared after stepping into the shower, slipping through a hole in his cell block and into a lighted, ventilated tunnel.
From there, he took off for San Juan del Rio, where two small planes awaited his arrival, Attorney General Arely Gomez has said. Two pilots were among the dozens of people arrested.
Since his escape in July, there have been reported sightings and near-misses. In October, authorities said they were hot on El Chapo’s trail, only to have him slip out of sight, though not before apparently breaking his leg.
After his capture this week, a relieved President Enrique Peña Nieto applauded security forces.
“Mission accomplished: We have him,” the President said.
The Sinaloa state native started his drug cartel in 1980. He became a powerful figure, leading a multibillion dollar empire that supplied much of the marijuana, cocaine and heroin sold on American streets.
U.S. indictments claim the organization used assassins and hit squads to show its muscle. The U.S. Justice Department previously sought his extradition to the United States, and it is likely it will try to do so again.
Authorities first arrested Guzman in Guatemala in 1993. They extradited him to Mexico and after his conviction, sent him to the Puente Grande maximum security prison.
In 2001, he escaped using a laundry cart and evaded Mexican authorities for years.
Those exploits ended in 2014, when he was arrested in the Mexican resort town of Mazatlan.
Guzman was then sent to Altiplano Federal Prison in Almoloya de Juarez, where he made the daring July escape through the tunnel.
Authorities paraded him before journalists late Friday night, then put him on a helicopter back to the same prison.