Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the world’s most famous drug lord, escaped from a maximum-security prison in Mexico for the second time in his drug-running career, a spectacular breach of security that set off a wide-ranging manhunt early Sunday.
For the past year and a half, the leader of the Sinaloa cartel had been incarcerated in the Altiplano, a federal facility set amid farmland west of the capital that holds the top captured drug bosses and has been described as the country’s most impenetrable prison.
That changed late Saturday, when Guzmán slipped out of the prison through a rectangular opening in the shower area of his cell that led to a nearly mile-long tunnel running out of the prison, underneath rolling corn fields and cow pastures and ending at a small cinder-block house decorated with Christmas lights that residents say was built after Guzmán’s imprisonment.
“They say this is maximum security?” Luis Alberto Carmona, 32, a farmer who lives in a house overlooking the prison, said Sunday afternoon. “This is the national security of our country. They have the most dangerous criminals in there. . . . How could this happen?”
Guzmán’s escape is a staggering blow for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who had been building a strong reputation for arresting top drug bosses from all the major cartels.