In a huge embarrassment for President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government, Mexico’s most notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, escaped from a maximum security prison for the second time in 15 years. The kingpin escaped through a one-mile-long tunnel that opened up in a shower area of his cell, according to the Associated Press. The tunnel had ventilation and lighting as well as a motorcycle connected to a rail, which is believed to have been used to transport the tools necessary for the digging, reports Mexico´s El Universal. Around 18 prison employees have been taken for questioning to try to figure out just what happened to the head of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel.
A manhunt was immediately launched for Guzmán, whose cartel is believed to control most of the crossing points for drugs into the United States and was last seen entering the shower area at 8:52 p.m. local time on Saturday. After he wasn’t seen for a while, guards entered his cell and found it empty.
The escape is seen as particularly embarrassing for Peña Nieto because he rose to office in 2012 vowing to crack down on drug kingpins. Peña Nieto’s party repeatedly mocked its rivals for letting Guzmán escape in the first place, notes Reuters. Guzmán was first caught in 1993 but managed to escape from prison in 2001, only to be recaptured again in February 2014. The way he managed to elude capture for so many years turned him into a mythical character in Mexico, seen as someone who could bribe anyone to get his way. CNN explains:
The rumors surrounding Guzmán, many of which sprouted during his previous 12 years on the lam, are numerous: With the money he had, he could be hiding anywhere in the world. He was listed by Forbes as one of the most powerful people in the world.
Now, unless he is caught quickly, the legend will only grow.