— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) July 12, 2015
Prison escapes are so hot right now. And if you’re Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the world’s most famous drug lord, you’ve got the money and influence to get assistance to making an amazing Hollywood movie-type escape from a maximum security prison.
For the past year and a half, Guzman was doing time at Altiplano prison located in Almoloya de Juarez, approximately 56 miles west of Mexico City. The facility is Mexico’s “highest-security prison,” but on Saturday the leader of the Sinaloa cartel proved otherwise and busted out. Guzman was last seen at 8:52 p.m. in a section of shower stalls at the most impenetrable prison, right after he had received his daily dose of medication. He entered a rectangular passage in the shower area of his cell that was only 19-inches in diameter.
Guards discovered that the hatch opened to a ladder that went down to the tunnel, which was illuminated and led to a nearly mile-long tunnel running underneath the prison, according to Mexico’s national security commissioner, Monte Alejandro Rubido.
The tunnel, which was only five and a half foot high, was equipped with adapted motorcycle-on-rails that was used to transport supplies, but Guzman may have used it as his getaway vehicle.
By Sunday morning, a massive manhunt by police and military had gone into effect around the area which is mostly farmland. Authorities put the Altiplano prison on lockdown. Flights out of Toluca International Airport, which is only about 25 miles from the Antiplano prison, were grounded. Authorities said that 18 prison employees and officials have been detained and are being questioned in Mexico City.
The manner of Guzman’s prison break suggests that it was well-planned, and done so with the help of guards in the prison.
This isn’t the first time that the drug kingpin fled confinement. After being arrested in 1993 in Guatemala and extradited back to Mexico, he escaped from Puente Grande, another Mexican maximum security prison in western Jalisco state, in in 2001 thanks to help by prison guards. In February 2014, Guzman was captured by a team of Mexican commandos while he was sleeping in a condo at the beach town of Mazatlan.
Even with Guzman’s capture, his Sinaloa drug organization remained one of the top narcotic traffickers in the world. Guzman’s cartel sends more cocaine and marijuana than any other into the United States, according to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials, and it accounts for more than half of the heroin.
¿Otra vez El Chapo? lol pic.twitter.com/EHNFJlGhyJ
— #SaveHannibal (@Lyna_LV) July 12, 2015