Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman used a specially modified motorcycle on two steel rails to travel along the mile-long tunnel that he used to escape from prison.
A visit by journalists to the tunnel’s exit in an unfinished barn near the prison that held Guzman provided a look at the last few yards that the leader of the Sinaloa cartel travelled to make his second escape from a Mexican maximum-security lockup.
Tracks guiding the modified motorcycle end two or three steps from the base of a ladder with 17 rungs that he would have scrambled up. The air in the tunnel is warm and humid and fine dust coats everything.
Reaching the top, a step leads into a small basement dominated by a blue generator as big as a small car.
Then it is six strides to another ladder. One, two, three steps up. The air thins. The temperature drops 10 degrees.
Four. Five. Six, the last rung. One more step and Guzman stood on the dusty floor of the barn, where digging equipment and building materials were discarded.
A view of an area of the tunnel connected to the Altiplano Federal Penitentiary and used by drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman to escape, in Almoloya de Juarez, on the outskirts of Mexico City, July 14, 2015
Seven strides and the man who Mexico’s government said would not repeat his 2001 prison escape stepped through a sliding steel door into the chilly night on the high plain west of the capital.
For the first time since his latest capture, on February 22, 2014, Guzman was a free man.
Authorities also released surveillance video of Guzman’s last moments in prison. CCTV footage shows him walking to the bed, where he sits and appears to change his shoes.
He then walks to the shower and toilet area, behind a low dividing wall of about waist height, and simply disappears. Another video filmed after the escape shows the gaping square hole cut into what appears to be the floor of the shower.
Experts have said the tunnel would have taken more than a year of planning and building. The digging would have caused noise. The entrance was in a place beyond the view of security cameras at Mexico’s toughest prison.
They also said it was clear the escape by Mexico’s most powerful drug lord must have involved inside help on a grand scale.
Three prison officials have already been fired, including the director of the prison.
While they will be quizzed about the escape, attention now turns to Guzman, who is once again Mexico’s most wanted man.