Drug Kingpin Had Escape Tunnels Under Bathtubs

Seized phones led to Guzman's downfall
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2014 2:31 AM CST
Drug Kingpin Had Escape Tunnels Under Bathtubs
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted to a helicopter in handcuffs by Mexican navy marines in Mexico City.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

A network of escape tunnels with entrances concealed under bathtubs helped the world's most powerful drug lord evade capture before his arrest over the weekend, investigators say. Early last week, Joaquin Guzman is believed to have escaped just minutes ahead of Mexican authorities, using a network of tunnels under the streets of Culiacan, headquarters of his Sinaloa cartel. US officials had traced Guzman to his hideout using a number on a phone seized in a raid earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Guzman's escape was short-lived: Using the same number, authorities were able to track him to the resort city of Mazatlan, where he was finally arrested after 13 years on the run. The arrest of a senior aide the day after Guzman's narrow escape also provided key clues, and a wiretap being monitored by Immigration and Customs Enforcement provided the final breakthrough, the AP finds. A senior US official tells Reuters that another key break in the case came last fall, when a phone belonging to the son of Guzman's deputy was seized at the US-Mexico border. "We handled this case like we handled many: using technology to work up the chain, person by person, to the top," he says. Guzman is now being held in an underground cell while Mexico and the US work out who gets to prosecute him. (More Joaquin Guzman stories.)

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