Mexico's top drug lord, Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, has once again escaped a maximum security prison, government authorities reported early Sunday morning. The crime boss, head of the infamously ruthless Sinaloa cartel, slipped out of prison through a secret shower hatch that led to a 1-mile tunnel, complete with lighting, ventilation ducts, and a waiting motorcycle.
It remains unclear how such an elaborate tunnel was literally built under the noses of guards and prison officials, who allegedly failed to detect it until the kingpin was gone.
The tunnel was first "detected" sometime after 8 p.m. on Saturday, when prison guards went to investigate how Chapo had disappeared from the video surveillance cameras while in the shower, according to Mexico’s National Security Commission.
Authorities said the tunnel leads to a nearby warehouse in the neighborhood of Santa Juanita, where construction materials were discovered.
A manhunt is now underway along the roads leading in and out of the Altiplano prison, and all flights out of the nearby Toluca airport have been suspended.
Chapo’s escape comes after his legal team managed to successfully prevent the drug lord’s extradition to the U.S. — a move that appears to have bought him enough time to plan and execute his escape. Mexico wanted to handle Chapo's case itself. Former Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam responded to an alleged U.S. extradition request by saying that Chapo could maybe be extradited in “300 or 400 years.”
Various incidents marked the drug lord's stay in prison. This April a mysterious woman who identified herself as a lawyer used a fake birth certificate and ID to enter Altiplano and visit Chapo. Last year, some media reports alleged that Chapo was conducting a coordinated hunger strike from within his cell to show his influence over the inmates.
In 2001, Chapo escaped from another maximum security prison in Jalisco, using his influence with prison guards to sneak out in a laundry cart, or perhaps disguised as a woman, according to different accounts. Chapo had previously attempted to escape Altiplano as well.
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