الإثنين , مايو 24 2021

Mexico on alert after Guzman escape

Checkpoint in Mexico City

Checkpoints have been set up across the country

Mexico’s Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong has been holding a meeting with state governors on how to prevent an increase in violence following the escape of the country’s most wanted drug lord.

A manhunt is underway across Mexico to try to recapture Joaquin Guzman, the leader of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel.

There are fears his escape could spark a turf war with rival drug cartels.

Guzman fled through a 1.5km-long (one mile) tunnel on Saturday night.

The tunnel linked the shower area of the high security Altiplano jail to a house built over the past year across maize fields near the prison.

At the meeting, the Mexican authorities and 10 state governors are going to “assess the progress on the search and discuss additional measures to capture this runaway delinquent,” says a government statement.

Mr Osorio Chong has been visiting the prison and the nearby area for the first time since Guzman’s escape.


Joaquin Guzman was re-arrested in his home state of Sinaloa in February 2014


Mr Osorio Chong went to see the house from where Guzman’s escaping tunnel was built

He arrived by helicopter at the Altiplano compound, about 90km (55 miles) west of Mexico City, along with a group of congressmen and National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubrido.

Mr Osorio Chong is in charge of the operation in the absence of President Enrique Pena Nieto, who is on a planned visit to France for that country’s Bastille Day celebrations on Tuesday.

He will give a media conference in the next few hours to give an update on the investigations.

Laundry basket escape

Security has been reinforced across Mexico. Flights from nearby Toluca airport were suspended and checkpoints have been set up.

Guatemala also reinforced its northern border with Mexico in response to the news that Guzman had escaped. It was there he was captured in 1993.


Altiplano penitentiary is a maximum security jail and houses a number of high-profile criminals


Extra soldiers have been deployed at Mexico City International Airport since Guzman’s escape

Guzman was sent to a top-security jail in Mexico, Puente Grande, but broke out in 2001, reportedly hidden in a laundry cart after bribing officials.

In the following years, he expanded the reach of his organisation, says the BBC’s Juan Paullier in Mexico City.

Analysts are warning that the same could happen again, if Guzman’s escape triggers conflicts with other cartels keen to protect their patches.

Dozens of prison guards are being questioned at the Altiplano prison to find out how he could escape this time.

Video footage showed Guzman entering the shower area in his cell at 20:52 local time on Saturday (01:52 GMT Sunday).

The tunnel, which measures 1.7m by 70cm, would have allowed Guzman, who is known as El Chapo or Shorty, to comfortably walk upright.

It had ventilation and lights and guards also found a motorcycle which they believe was used to transport earth removed as the tunnel was dug.

Inside the building, officials found a bed and a kitchen, suggesting those who dug the tunnel could have spent days at a time there.

A calculation based on the height, width and extension of the tunnel estimates that the earth removed would have filled 379 lorries, said Reforma newspaper.

President Pena Nieto called Guzman’s escape “an affront to the state” and ordered a full investigation.

Guzman’s personal fortune is estimated at $1bn (£640m).

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