Mexican officials announced today (July 12) that a top drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, has escaped from a maximum security prison. Officials are on a manhunt for the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, which has been called “Mexico’s most powerful organized crime group,” on the heels of a 13-year manhunt for Guzman that ended last February, when he was re-arrested after another prison escape.
Officials say he escaped from the Altiplano prison through an elaborate tunnel from his cell and was last seen in the shower area at 9pm local time on July 11.
Guzman faces several federal drug trafficking indictments in Mexico, as well as in the US, but has eluded authorities in the past thanks to his influence and ability to pay off local residents and authorities. He made his first escape from a maximum security prison in 2001, after bribing prison officials. Upon his recapture in 2014, Jesus Murillo Karam, then-Mexico’s attorney general, chose not to extradite Guzman to the US and dismissed concerns that he could escape again, claiming that risk “does not exist.”
Quartz has dubbed Guzman the world’s most successful practitioner of a growing phenomenon called “deviant globalization,” while Forbes magazine previously named Guzman one of the world’s most powerful people. Drug enforcement experts say his cartel is responsible for 25% of all illegal drugs that enter the US from Mexico, with annual revenues that may exceed $3 billion.