How Did El Chapo Escape? What We Know So Far

As authorities continue the search for prison escapee and Mexican drug cartel leader Joaquin Guzman, the specific details about how "El Chapo" escaped have started to emerge. Guards at the Altiplano prison in Mexico discovered Guzman was missing Saturday, and officials estimated that sometime after he received his medication around 8 p.m., he escaped through a mile-long, lighted tunnel with motorcycle rails that were reportedly built just for him. On Monday, Mexican government officials released a recent photo of Guzman showing him with a clean-shaven face and head and issued a reward of 60 million pesos, or about $3.8 million, for any information about Guzman that leads to his capture, CNN reported.

However, it's still not clear how a prisoner who was under 24-hour video surveillance and wore an electronic monitoring bracelet was able to escape with little to no detection. Digging a tunnel that came up just under Guzman's cell would have been noisy and produced a lot of dirt, some Mexican officials noted. Since the escape, the prison director was fired, and dozens of employees have been questioned as part of the investigation.

Mexican Congressman Ricardo Pacheco told Reuters, "There had to have been complicity. To have done a thing like this, you need immense quantities of all kinds of resources: material, technical and human." Mexico's Interior Minister Miguel Osorio Chong has refused to resign, pledging to catch El Chapo and bring him to justice. "There will be no rest for this criminal," Chong said during a press conference.


One expert suggested to CNN that if Guzman did indeed have help from inside and outside of the prison, it's possible Guzman didn't go through the tunnel at all, but instead went out the front gate. The tunnel may have been a "face-saving device for Mexican officials," Don Winslow said, if Guzman is following a similar plan to his previous escape in 2001. For that prison break, it's believed Guzman bribed guards at the Puente Grande prison near Guadalajara. He was not recaptured until February 2014. For now, Guatemala is also closely watching its Mexican border since El Chapo was arrested there once before, in 1993.


So where is El Chapo now? It's anyone's guess. He could be hiding near Mexico City or in a more rural part of the country until things cool off. But most officials agree: Given the resources he has available and the fact he's escaped before, if El Chapo is not captured soon, it's unlikely he ever will be.

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