Mexican authorities have released surveillance footage that shows notorious drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s final moments in prison before his brazen escape.
Guzman, the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, vanished from the Altiplano prison roughly 55 miles west of Mexico city on July 11. Officials say he entered a 20-by-20 inch hole inside of his cell and crossed through an elaborately constructed tunnel before exiting into a half-built barn roughly a mile outside the prison.
A tracking bracelet intended to monitor Guzman’s position at all times was discovered in his cell, officials said.
Footage released late Tuesday shows Guzman ducking behind a short wall in his shower, one of two surveillance blind spots designed specifically to offer prisoners privacy while they bathe.
Officials say it took the Sinaloa cartel a considerable amount of time to infiltrate the prison, perhaps years. Although it is likely that Guzman received assistance from someone inside the prison—architectural plans would have certainly been required—the authorities have yet to identify any suspects.
With an estimated wealth of over $1 billion, Guzman has considerable resources at his disposal. His cartel currently controls much of the cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine trafficked across the U.S.–Mexico border.
Guzman, once considered by the U.S. government to be the “most powerful drug trafficker in the world,” previously escaped from a federal maximum-security prison in 2001 by bribing several prison guards. After his recapture in February 2014, U.S. officials requested that he be extradited—he faces several charges in the U.S. in addition to his Mexican offenses—in part due to concerns that he would escape.
Mexican authorities are offering 60 million pesos ($3.8 million) for information leading to Guzman’s capture. His current whereabouts are unknown.
Illustration by Max Fleishman