Mexico City, Mexico — Early this morning, drug kingpin Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, head of the Sinaloa Cartel, escaped from the Altiplano maximum security prison once again.
It is unclear at this point what exactly happened, but these are the details ABC News has received from Mexican officials so far:
2:35 AM: Guzmán was taken in restraints by two prison guards on a routine cell transfer.
3:05 AM: Prison staff could not locate Guzmán or the two prison guards’s whereabouts. The prison was put on lockdown as personnel went looking for them.
4:15 AM: A prison van was found abandoned only a mile away from the prison. Mexican officials believe the two guards, who began working at the prison just months ago, were actually members of the Sinaloa Cartel working for Guzmán.
Before today’s escape, Mexican officials were working to extradite “El Chapo” to the United States, where he faced drug trafficking charges connected to his cartel, authorities said.
An undercover U.S. FBI agent told the Dallas Morning News that El Chapo’s flight was like Osama Bin Laden escaping prison—and the state has only itself to blame. “What does this say about Mexican corruption?” the agent asked. “Disgusting.”This is now the third time Guzmán has escaped from a Mexican prison and brings into question Mexico’s ability to keep corruption out of it’s penal system.
In 1993, Guzmán was captured in Guatemala, extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison in Mexico for murder and drug trafficking. In 2001, after bribing Mexican prison guards, he was able to escape from a federal maximum-security prison in 2001. On February 22nd, 2014, Guzmán was found inside his fourth-floor condominium in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, and was captured without any gunshots being fired. Guzmán escaped from prison again on July 11th, 2015 by exiting through a tunnel that led to a nearby construction site. He was recaptured by Mexican marines following a shootout at Guzman’s hideout in Mexico on January 8th, 2016.
During the raid, five gunmen were killed, six others arrested, and one Marine was wounded. The Mexican Navy said that they found two armored cars, eight assault rifles, including two Barrett M82sniper rifles, two M16 rifles with grenade launchers and a loaded rocket-propelled grenade launcher. A .50-caliber rifle was also found, capable of taking down a helicopter. Most of the weapons seized, including the .50 caliber rifle, were from the Fast and Furious gun-smuggling scandal, a story the U.S. government declared to be over.
Sarah Bradley, a spokeswoman for Sock It Forward, a group that provides the homeless and those less fortunate with brand new socks, told ABC News that she is sickened by the United State’s drug policies.
“The war on drugs is a joke and long-lost battle,” Bradley said. “The U.S. creates these cartels by making drugs illegal in the first place. They lock up people in jail for as little as a joint of marijuana. All the incarcerations related to drugs have helped fund a trillion-dollar prison system; from its lawyers, to judges, to the prison staff and the actual prisons themselves. All of it is just pathetic and a truly sad reality.”
After news of the escape, DEA spokesman Paul Horner, working along with Mexican officials, spoke to local law enforcement.
“Listen up, ladies and gentlemen. Our fugitive has been on the run for 90 minutes. Average foot speed over uneven ground, barring injuries, is 4 miles-an-hour. That gives us a radius of six miles. What I want out of each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area. Checkpoints go up at fifteen miles. Your fugitive’s name is Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman. Go get him.”
U.S. Officials along with Mexican authorities have setup a 24-hour hotline at (785) 273-0325 for anyone with information about the whereabouts of Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman. A $10 million dollar reward is currently being offered and as always, you can remain anonymous.