Saturday 24 March 2018

Mexico offers €3.7m reward in hunt for escaped drug lord

David Kearns

A reward of €3.7 million has been offered for the capture of the infamous drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán after he escaped from a maximum security prison over the weekend.

Mexican authorities have placed a bounty of 60 million pesos for any information leading to his arrest, and have shut down large parts of the country in a bid to prevent him fleeing across its borders.

The kingpin of the Sinaloa cartel, seen by many as the most dominant and ruthless drug trafficking organisation in Mexico, was serving a 20-year sentence when he escape from prison via a 1.5km long tunnel.

Mexico’s Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told reporters on Monday that the director of the Altiplano prison, west of Mexico City, had been fired along with two other senior officials.

He also accused staff at the maximum security prison for aiding Mr Guzmán’s escape as it emerged that the drug lord fled despite wearing a monitoring bracelet and being subject to 24-hour surveillance.

“The failure that occurred has angered all of us,” said Mr Osorio Chong.

 “Want we all want is the truth, and that’s what we’re working toward, we all want to have him captured.”

"There will be no rest for this criminal," he added.

Mr Guzmán’s escaped on Saturday via a 1.5km-long tunnel that had been fitted with stairs, ventilation, and an adapted motorcycle on rails, authorities said.

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.

The infamous drug lord was last seen at 8:52 pm approaching the shower area in his cell, and  video footage then shows him removing his ankle bracelet, which was being used to track his movements inside the prison.

The seaming ease of Mr Guzmán’s escape has been a major embarrassment for the Mexican government, which had rebuffed earlier requests from the U to extradite him.

In 2001, the drug lord managed to escape from the maximum security Puente Grande prison, where he had been incarcerated since his arrest in 1993 in Guatemala.

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