During his evasion of a police raid last week, notorious fugitive and drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman sustained minor injuries to his face and leg according to Mexican officials. Considered the most powerful drug trafficker in the world by the U.S. Treasury Department, the Sinaloa cartel leader has been on the run since his escape from prison in July.
Mexican authorities pursued Guzman in the northeast region of the country following an intelligence tip, but stated that Guzman’s injuries were not related to a confrontation but rather his escape from his pursuers.
U.S. officials suspect that employees inside Guzman’s former prison were accomplices in his escape plan, which consisted of an extensive tunnel that had been constructed beneath his shower. The fugitive then boarded a plane, which was flown to a secret hideaway. Following the escape the pilot who transported Guzman has been arrested, in addition to 34 other individuals yet the druglord remains at large.
This marks the second successful escape by the drug kingpin. Following his 2001 escape he was able to evade capture for 13 years only to reenter prison in February of 2014. The U.S. and Mexico have put up $5 million and $3.8 million, respectively, for information leading to Guzman’s arrest.
Guzman heads the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s most powerful criminal organization. When he ordered the assassination of Juarez cartel leader Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes in 2004, he broke a non-aggression pact that had governed the conduct of the major cartels, leading to the currently ongoing war for control of the country’s drug routes.
The increasing violence by the cartels led to former Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s decision in 2006 to involve the Mexican military in a campaign targeting the groups. However, due to lack of arrests of Sinaloa members during the offensive, critics accused Calderon of cultivating Sinaloa to be the winner of the cartel war.
Guzman’s previous success at evading recapture was aided by bribes to both authorities and local citizens. Using a network of paid informants, Guzman was able coordinate his movements as well as receive tips on imminent police raids.