Mexico’s maximum security prison Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1, Altiplano, was thought to be impenetrable.
Its walls are at least a meter thick and cannot be rammed. To prevent a helicopter escape, the surrounding air space is a no-fly zone. Furthermore, the airwaves in the facility are restricted so that if an inmate somehow acquires a cell phone, he won’t be able to communicate with the outside world. It doesn’t end here. The prison is even equipped with armored personnel carriers to protect the building in case of an assault.
Due to its impassable structure and constant surveillance, no prisoner has ever escaped Altiplano … until this week, when the world’s most powerful drug lord busted out of the facility in a prison break that has left authorities stunned.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug baron whose arrest last year was hailed as a major victory in Mexico’s campaign against the narcotics trade, entered the shower area in his cell – the only place where cameras aren’t installed – and never came out.
Later in the day, when prison guards entered his cell, they discovered a 2-by-2-foot hole under the bathtub through which El Chapo, or Shorty, had disappeared. The opening led to a one-mile long, custom-built tunnel that further led to a construction site in the nearby neighborhood of Santa Juanita, west of Mexico City.
As for the tunnel, it was an engineering masterpiece. More than 2 feet wide and 5 feet high, the burrow was tall enough for the Sinaloa cartel chief to walk upright. The escape route even had air vents, electric lights and a motorcycle on rails.
More than 18 prison officials were reportedly called to Mexico City for questioning.
“This represents, without a doubt, an affront to the Mexican state,” stated President Enrique Pena Nieto. “But I also have confidence in the institutions of the Mexican state ... that they have the strength and determination to recapture this criminal.”
The manhunt began immediately after the escape, but so far, authorities haven’t been able to catch the drug lord who capitalized on drug markets in Asia and Europe to continue building his empire.
“If he's not captured within the next 48 hours, he's going to assume all command of the Sinaloa Cartel,” said Mike Vigil, a retired U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's former chief of international operations. “We may never find him again. All the accolades that Mexico has received in their counter drug efforts will be erased by this one event.”
Chief of the world’s biggest and most violent drug cartel, El Chapo is known for burrowing tunnels to conduct his business. He even built tunnels under the border to smuggle drugs into the United States – so it’s only fitting he used one for his legendary escape.
This is also not his first prison break. In 2001, the notorious kingpin escaped a maximum-security prison in Jalisco allegedly via a laundry cart.
Officials in the United States believe that El Chapo should have been held in a U.S. prison. Given that he was named Public Enemy No. 1 in Chicago for his drug trade, Mexican government could face significant backlash from the U.S.
“It is a shock that the most dangerous cartel leader in the world has escaped,” exclaimed Peter Bensinger, former administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency. “He ought to have been housed in an American prison.”
While El Chapo’s escape has both outraged and worried authorities, people on Twitter have been cracking jokes and theories saying he may be after Donald Trump to reprimand the presidential candidate for his recent racist remarks against Mexicans.
El Chapo Guzman escaped from prison so he could go talk to Donald Trump and discuss those things he said about Mexicans.— Carlos Rendon (@crendon16) July 12, 2015
Donald Trump finding out El Chapo escaped prison ?????? No que no cabron!!! pic.twitter.com/yehZ6hIywx— She Wants Da Chorizo (@ShiWantsTheC) July 12, 2015