Notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escaped from a maximum-security prison in Mexico on Saturday using an elaborate mile-long tunnel that led from his prison cell to an abandoned construction site, authorities said.
Guzman, 60, was last seen in the prison at about 8 p.m., the Associated Press reports. A massive manhunt led by the military and police is underway near the Altiplano prison.
The prison, located in a remote area surrounded by farmland about 55 miles west of Mexico City, is one of the most secure detention facilities in Mexico. This is the second time that Guzman has escaped from a maximum-security prison. He has been held there since last February, when he was captured in Sinaloa during a raid by commandos.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. ‘El Chapo’ Is the Leader of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel
Guzman, whose nickname means “Shorty,” is the leader of one of Mexico’s most powerful and dangerous drug gangs, the Sinaloa cartel. The gang’s drug trafficking helped Guzman build a fortune worth an estimated $1 billion, the Associated Press reports.
His gang has continued to hold power and expand its control in Mexico, despite Guzman’s capture, the AP reports. They have been involved in a bloody war for territory that has led to more than 100,000 deaths over the last decade.
Guzman was arrested in February 2014 during a raid on his condo in Culiacan, Mexico, the capital of Sinaloa state.
2. The Tunnel Had Ventilation, Lighting & a Motorcycle Track
Mexican authorities said at a press conference that Guzman escaped through an elaborate 1-mile tunnel, according to CNN.
The tunnel led from the shower area of Guzman’s cell at the Altiplano Federal Prison to an abandoned construction site. Mexico’s National Security spokesman Monte Alejandro Rubido García said at the press conference that the tunnel included a ventilation system, lighting and a motorcycle track that appeared to have been used to move materials as the tunnel was built.
Guzman’s cartel is known for building tunnels near the Mexico-United States border to move drugs.
3. He Escaped From a Mexican Prison in 2001 With the Help of Guards
Guzman escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in 2001 while serving a 20-year sentence. He had been at the prison since 1993 after he was captured in Guatemala.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Guzman hid in a laundry cart that was led to the outside of the prison by guards.
A $7 million bounty was placed on him by Mexico and the United States while he was on the run for nearly 15 years.
4. The United States Tried to Extradite ‘El Chapo’ Over Fears He Would Escape Again
The United States said after El Chapo’s arrest that they would try to extradite him to the U.S. on federal drug charges over fears that Guzman would escape from prison again. But Mexico said those fears were baseless, and an official said the U.S. would get Guzman in “about 300 or 400 years.”
Former Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam told the Associated Press the risk of Guzman escaping “does not exist.”
5. Authorities Have Locked Down the Area Near the Prison & Shut Down a Nearby Airport
The police and military have shut down the area around the prison and grounded flights at the nearby Toluca airport, the Associated Press reports.
More than 18 prison employees and officials have been brought in for questioning in connection with Guzman’s escape, officials said.
Read more about El Chapo and his kids in Spanish in our sister site Ahoramismo.com