MS Risk Blog

Mexican Authorities Reecapture Drug Lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman

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The drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been recaptured 6 months after his escape from a Mexican maximum security prison. On January 8, Mexican marines and federal police forces detained El Chapo during a raid in the city of Los Mochis, in the north-western state of Sinaloa. 6 gang members were arrested and another 5 were killed in the raid. A Mexican police spokesman said the US Drug Enforcement Administration and US Marshals helped in El Chapo’s arrest. El Chapo’s right-hand man was also captured in the raid. The Navy also reported that Orso Ivan Gastelum Cyz, a suspected gang leader, managed to escape. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Guzman’s arrest was a “victory for the rule of law”.

According to Mexican authorities, an interview that actor Sean Penn conducted with Joaquin Guzman last year helped the government to catch El Chapo. Mexican marines and police officials became aware of the meetings between Sean Penn and Joaquin Guzman in October 2015 and monitored Penn’s movement, helping lead them to the area where Guzman was hiding. Guzman managed to escape, but the operation in the northern state of Durango was a major breakthrough in the hunt.

On July 11, Guzman escaped from Altiplano maximum-security prison through a tunnel. According to the national security commissioner, his escape route was more than 1.5 kilometres long and had ventilation and stairs. More than 12 prison guards and federal police officials were arrested on charges of helping Guzman escape.

Guzman’s July escape was his second; in 2001, El Chapo escaped from another prison in Jalisco state by hiding in a laundry basket after bribing prison officials. He had been serving a sentence of more than 20 years after being arrested in Guatemala in 1993.

Concerned that Joaquin Guzman could escape for a third time, Mexican authorities have increased the security measures at his prison. The floor of his cell has been reinforced and a guard has been placed on his door 24/7. The new adopted measures also include reducing the number of inmates, increasing the number of cameras and moving Guzman randomly to different cells of the prison.

On January 10 2016, the Mexican government formally started the extradition process to the United States of Joaquin Guzman. According to the Mexican attorney general’s office, Interpol served 2 extradition warrants in an attempt to have Guzman face US justice. El Chapo faces charges ranging from money laundering to drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder. He faces criminal proceedings in 7 US courts.

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