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The Houdini drug lord
El Chapo, real name, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, head of the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel and Mexico’s most dangerous and powerful drug lord, has again escaped from a maximum security prison, but this time in quite extravagant style.
His nickname, El Chapo (“Shorty” in English) came about because he is just 5ft 6 tall. But would you call him shorty to his face?
El Chapo’s most recent escape was from Altiplano maximum security prison, in Almoloya, just west of Mexico City, through an opening in his shower area and into a mile long tunnel that had been especially dug for him by his men, and get this, the tunnel was dug from the outside of the prison right into El Chapo’s cell, apparently using GPS to find the exact spot below his shower area.
Motorcycle on rails
His guys are experts at building this type of tunnel because they build them all the time under the US\Mexico border to traffic money and drugs. They also build escape tunnels in their hideouts in case police swooped on them.
The prison tunnel was 5000 feet long, (0.9 of a mile) had lighting, ventilation and even a converted motorcycle on rails. The bike was initially to take away the dirt and transport tools but also allowed El Chapo to just ride out of prison, he didn’t even need to walk the long mile to make one of the most stylish escapes in history.
Once authorities confirmed his escape they set up roadblocks and shut down the airport in nearby Toluca and issued an embarrassed statement to the press.
The near one-mile long tunnel, which took almost a year to build, led to a construction site in Santa Juana where El Chapo’s men were waiting with transport to whisk him off to safety. They had bribed local officials to allow them to construct a small building there, where inside they started the tunnel off in complete privacy and as it was a construction site nobody took any notice of the drilling\digging noises.
As for the drilling and digging noises under his cell? Well, one must draw one’s own conclusions on that one as I can find no explanation 🙂
“I have killed 2 to 3 thousand people”
When Guzman was arrested in February 2014 it was hailed as a great achievement for Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto at the time and he vowed to continue his crackdown on drug traffickers.
Guzman apparently told a journalist at that time that he had killed between two and three thousand people.
The United States government had wanted to extradite Guzmán over concerns that he might escape again. This was a fair comment considering he had previously slipped out of another Mexican max prison in a laundry basket in 2001. It is widely thought that he had inside help from about 78 paid off prison staff and the escape had cost him $2 million to set up.
Guzman’s wealth has been reported by Forbes magazine to be over one billion US dollars.
El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel are the source of a large proportion of the drugs smuggled into the United States every year: Cocaine, heroin, and other hard drugs are delivered in huge amounts through a very clever distribution network.
In 2006, breaking a pact with the other big drug cartels, El Chapo ordered an assassination that started the Mexican Drug War. This battle between the cartels has led to over 60,000 deaths and 12,000 kidnappings. Also through the spoils of the drug war, El Chapo has become one of the most powerful and richest men in the crime world.
Below is a superb short documentary with some great footage of inside the tunnel. There is also a very interesting interview with an ex-prisoner who was in cell 13 in El Chapo’s unit (El Chapo was in cell 20)
Take note of the elaborate security precautions he describes that the prison takes. Maybe El Chapo wasn’t subject to these over the top spot checks? Not to mention the 24 hour CCTV surveillance in his cell, which was working fine as you will see in the video below.
Is there something more going on here?.
El Chapo has married four times, most recently in 2007, when he married a 17-year-old beauty queen. He also apparently developed a relationship with another inmate, Zulema Hernandez, a corrupt policewoman imprisoned for drug offences.
Zulema was murdered in 2008. Her body was found with a “Z” the sign of El Chapo’s rivals the Los Zetas, carved into her buttocks. Guzman is said to be very close to his mother. He built her a villa in La Tuna.
References and further reading:
UPDATE Jan 9th, 2016
It turns out that the actor Sean Penn had a secret interview with El Chapo on behalf of Rolling Stone magazine just before he was arrested! El Chapo-speaks
If you enjoyed this post then you might also like Joseph Vacher-The French Ripper
El Chapo, the Houdini drug lord (c) 2015-2016 True Stories V1.1, L