Mexican authorities were left red faced over the weekend as drug kingpin Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman broke out of prison yet again, according to the country’s National Security Commission on Sunday.
Mexican authorities have now launched a manhunt to find the drug lord, whom guards at the Altiplano Federal Prison discovered missing during a routine check on Saturday.
Guzman is the legendary boss of the Sinaloa cartel, one of the world’s most powerful and deadly drug trafficking syndicates.
This isn’t the first escape for the well-funded leader. He previously escaped in 2001 from a high security prison inside of a laundry cart, managing to stay out of prison and continuing to run his powerful narcotics distribution business until February, 2014, when he was apprehended at a Mexican beach resort.
The Sinaloa cartel is by far the most dominant drug trafficking organization in Mexico and is thought to be responsible for the heroin epidemic in the northeastern United States.
Also known as ‘Shorty’ for his diminutive size, Guzman has become a larger than life figure as he eluded authorities while building a global drug empire. His life story is so popular in Mexico that it has led to a number of best-selling books and is the subject of folk songs known as ‘narcocorridos’.
In the United States, he is wanted on multiple federal drug trafficking and organized crime charges.
According to the National Security Commission, Guzman was last spotted inside the jail at 8:52pm Saturday evening, where he was caught on surveillance cameras approaching a shower area where prisoners also wash their belongings.
After not seeing Guzman for some time, guards checked his cell and found it empty. According to reports there was a mile long tunnel that connected his cell to the outside world, allowing for the escape.
Officials closed Toluca International Airport, a 45-minute drive from the Altiplano Federal Prison and have launched an intensive manhunt.