Drug Lord's Escape Like 'bin Laden Escaping Prison'

Guzman may already be back in command of cartel
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2015 5:16 AM CDT
US Agents 'Disgusted' by Drug Lord's Escape
In this Feb. 22, 2014, photo, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted to a helicopter in handcuffs by Mexican navy marines at a navy hangar in Mexico City.   (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman—the man who pioneered drug tunnels and repeatedly dodged capture through a network of tunnels, according to an NBC News profile—has escaped from a maximum-security prison through a mile-long tunnel, and US authorities are fuming. "This is like Osama bin Laden escaping prison," a US undercover agent tells the Dallas Morning News, describing the escape as "mindboggling" and "disgusting." The US wanted to extradite Guzman after his arrest by a joint Mexican-US force last year, and experts tell the AP that while Washington has been diplomatic about the escape and offered assistance, it is certain to heighten the "distrust many US agencies feel" toward Mexico's government.

Some 30 prison staff members have been brought in for questioning, and the area around the maximum-security prison is on lockdown, the Washington Post reports. But unless Guzman's escape plan involved waiting for Joyce Mitchell to pick him up, authorities fear he will soon resume command of the Sinaloa cartel, as he did after his 2001 prison break. "All the accolades that Mexico has received in their counter-drug efforts will be erased by this one event," says a former DEA director of international operations. "It will be very difficult to capture Chapo if he is able to make it into the rugged Sierra Madre mountains of Sinaloa, where he was born and raised. He is revered and protected by the local population since he builds schools [and] churches and gives money to the poor." (Read more Joaquin Guzman stories.)

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