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Sunday, July 12

"Top drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman escapes prison again, Mexican officials say" UPDATED 11:20 PM EDT

11:20 PM EDT 7/12 UPDATE
Reuters - 10:54pm EDT
Mexico kingpin 'Chapo' Guzman stages brazen jailbreak in blow to president
Repeats details from reports earlier in the day that describe the particulars of the escape, but these quotes caught my eye: 
[...]
"This is going to be a massive black eye for Pena Nieto's administration," said Mike Vigil, former head of global operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

"I don't think they took into account the cunning of Chapo Guzman and the unlimited resources he has. If Chapo Guzman is able to make it back to the mountainous terrain that he knows so well in the state of Sinaloa ... he may never be captured again," Vigil said.
[...]
The flight of Guzman, who became a legendary figure in villages scattered in the sierra where he grew up in northwestern Mexico, seriously undermines Pena Nieto's pledge to bring order to a country racked by years of gang violence.
[...]
The Mexican president has come under increasing pressure to deliver on his pledges to root out corruption after becoming embroiled in a string of conflict-of-interest scandals. He was en route to France when news of Guzman's getaway broke.

Before Pena Nieto won election, politicians in his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had mocked their conservative rivals for letting Guzman escape while they ran the country, saying it would not have happened on their watch.

Days after Guzman was captured in 2014, Pena Nieto said another El Chapo escape must "never happen again."

"Given what happened in the past, truly, it would be worse than deplorable, it would unforgivable," he said then.

Over the past decade, dozens of illegal tunnels built by gangs trafficking drugs and people across the U.S.-Mexican border have cropped up, with more than 100 found since 2007.

But penetrating Mexico's highest security prison to spring the world's most infamous drug smuggler undoubtedly represents a more audacious challenge, experts said.

Rubido did not comment on why authorities had apparently failed to notice a long tunnel being built under the prison.

The capo's escape could also strain relations with the United States, which wanted Guzman extradited, said Alberto Islas, a security expert at consultancy Risk Evaluation.

"They were concerned about how dangerous he was, and they had a lack of confidence in the Mexican authorities to stop him operating from jail," he added.

[...]

****

7:55 AM EDT 7/12 UPDATE
At 5:09 AM The Dallas Morning News updated its earlier report with one by the Associated Press.  Click on the link below for the updated version.  All I'll say at this time is that Guzman's escape is not a simple prison escape; it's a terrible blow to the national government. 

****** 
Published: 12 July 2015 01:42 AM - Updated 02:38 AM
The Dallas Morning News

MEXICO CITY -- Top Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has escaped from a maximum security prison for the second time, security officials announced late Saturday.

Guzman, who headed the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, was last seen in the area of the showers in the Altiplano prison outside of Mexico City, the capital.

The National Security Commission said in a statement that Guzman went to the showers shortly before 9 p.m. and wasn’t seen for a while. Upon checking his cell, authorities found that it was empty.

A search operation began immediately in the surrounding area and highways. Flights have also been suspended at Toluca airport near the penitentiary.

Guzman was captured in February 2014 after more than a decade on the run. He faces multiple federal drug trafficking indictments in the U.S. and was on the DEA’s most-wanted list.

Guzman had been caught previously in Guatemala in 1993, extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison in Mexico for murder and drug trafficking. He escaped from another maximum security prison, Puente Grande in western Jalisco state, in 2001 with the help of prison guards.

The Sinaloa Cartel empire stretches throughout North America and reaches as far away as Europe and Australia. The cartel has been heavily involved in the bloody drug war that has torn through parts of Mexico for the last several years.

Sinaloa is believed now to control most of the major crossing points for drugs at the U.S. border with Mexico.

More details to come.


[END REPORT]

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