Video shows drug lord El Chapo's daring escape

2015-07-15 07:28
Joaquin El Chapo Guzman, head of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel. (Eduardo Verdugo, AP, File)

Joaquin El Chapo Guzman, head of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel. (Eduardo Verdugo, AP, File)

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Mexico City - Mexico's government released a video on Tuesday showing fugitive drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman going into his prison cell's shower and bending down behind a short dividing wall before disappearing.

While Guzman paced back and forth several times between the bathroom area and his bed before vanishing, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said it was common behaviour for prison inmates.

The small hole on the shower floor that Guzman, aged 58, slipped into for his daring escape late on Saturday is not seen in the footage.

While a surveillance camera was on a corner outside the cell and another inside pointing toward the shower, authorities said they had two blind spots to protect the inmate's privacy.

Rubido said Guzman was last seen at 20:52, without indicating how long it took for prison guards to sound the alarm.

Guzman's second escape from a maximum-security prison in 14 years is a huge embarrassment to President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration, which had celebrated the capture of the world's most wanted drug baron just 17 months ago.

'Natural behaviour’

While a massive manhunt for Guzman entered its third full day, prosecutors formally detained 22 officials from the Altiplano prison outside Mexico City amid suspicions of an inside job. Twelve others held since on Sunday was released.

The video shows the diminutive Guzman, his nickname means "Shorty apparently urinating before walking toward his small bed.

He goes back toward the shower, returns to the bed, and back to the bathroom, bending down a first time behind the wall.

Guzman then sits on his bed and changes footwear before heading back to the shower for the last time and bending down. A towel on the dividing wall falls behind it.

"It's a natural behaviour for prisoners in a confined space for a prolonged time," Rubido told a news conference.

The government also showed a video of the 1.5km escape tunnel, which had a motorcycle with a metal cart in front and a special rail system for it to ride on.

The tunnel's lights were blown out by the fugitive as he fled and exited at the other end up a ladder into a building on a property surrounded by fields.

The moment guards noticed that Guzman was gone, the guards issued a red alert via radio and the prison was placed on lockdown, Rubido said.

But prosecutors are investigating whether protocols were properly followed, he said.

Some 700 federal forces were deployed to the nearby highway, suspended flights at the nearby Toluca airport and issued alerts to other airports.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said that Guzman "must have" had help from prison officials in his brazen escape.

Authorities have 96 hours to either charge or release the 22 prison officials who were placed in custody on Tuesday.

Officials declined to say whether the prison's director, who was fired on Monday, was among those released or kept in custody.

The government also released images of Guzman's cell after his escape, showing the rectangular hole on the floor of his shower, which is covered with humidity stains.

Guzman had to squeeze in next to a pipe to make his way down.

At the other end, a tall ladder leads up to an anteroom with an electrical system to power the lights inside the tunnel.

Prosecutors have questioned the owner of the property to figure out who had bought or rented it. Two of Guzman's attorneys have also been interrogated.

The escape marks the second time since 2001 that Guzman managed to flee a maximum-security prison.

The government has offered a $3.8m reward for Guzman's capture, double the amount it usually offers for the country's most wanted criminals.

Osorio Chong met with US Ambassador Anthony Wayne, agreeing "to strengthen the coordination and collaboration that exists between the two countries with the goal of recapturing Joaquin Guzman," the interior ministry said.

Amid mounting outrage at the escape, lawmakers in Congress asked Osorio Chong and other top security officials to testify on Thursday.

The legislature's security committee said the escape "affects the national security strategy of the state."

Osorio Chong said that he would not step down, insisting that "crises are not the moment to resign but to confront them."

Read more on:    mexico  |  narcotics
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