9 Jan 2016

'Mission accomplished: We got him'

7:42 pm on 9 January 2016

Mexico's authorities have recaptured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, six months after he escaped from a maximum-security jail.

Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin Guzman Loera, aka "el Chapo Guzman",

Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin Guzman Loera, aka "el Chapo Guzman", Photo: AFP

In a post on Twitter, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said: "Mission accomplished: We got him."

Guzman, one of the world's most-wanted drug lords, smuggled cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines to the US through the Sinaloa cartel he led.

He escaped from jail through a 1.5 kilometre tunnel dug in the showers.

Mexico president Enrique Peña Nieto

Mexico president Enrique Peña Nieto Photo: AFP

President Pena Nieto described Guzman's arrest as a "victory against impunity" and said it showed Mexicans could have confidence in the state's ability to guarantee law and order.

"There is no group that it is impossible to confront," he said.

Guzman was apprehended following a shoot-out with Mexican marines in Los Mochis, a coastal city in his home state of Sinaloa, in north-west Mexico, the president said.

Five people are thought to have been killed in the raid, which involved the army and navy as well as police.

The US congratulated the Mexican government but did not indicate whether prosecutors would seek Guzman's extradition.

In a statement, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Guzman had caused "significant violence, suffering and corruption on multiple continents".

Guzman's July escape was his second - he was first arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and escaped from Puente Grande jail in 2001, reportedly in a laundry basket after bribing officials.

He was on the run for 13 years before being held again in 2014.

CCTV footage of his 11 July escape showed Guzman pacing his cell several times before heading into the shower area and disappearing at the maximum-security Altiplano jail.

A huge manhunt followed, with flights suspended at the nearby airports. The US government had offered a $NZ7.64 million reward for information leading to his capture.

Video grab taken from a handout video released by Mexican website "Plaza de Armas" showing Joaquin Guzman being escorted into a vehicle in the city of Los Mochis, Mexico.

Video grab taken from a handout video released by Mexican website "Plaza de Armas" showing Joaquin Guzman being escorted into a vehicle in the city of Los Mochis, Mexico. Photo: AFP PHOTO / PLAZA DE ARMAS / HO

Authorities located him several days ago based on reports that he was in the Los Mochis area.

In October, Mexican officials said they had "broken up" and arrested the group responsible for helping him escape.

Guzman's wealth is estimated at $NZ1.53bn.

Despite being the leader of one of the world's most powerful and violent drug cartels, Guzman was seen by some in Sinaloa - where there are few job opportunities - as a modern-day Robin Hood figure who could offer more security to people than the government.

Masks of famous Mexican drug trafficker currently on the run Joaquin Guzman Loera 'El Chapo' are pictured in a costume shop in central Mexico.

Masks of famous Mexican drug trafficker currently on the run Joaquin Guzman Loera 'El Chapo' are pictured in a costume shop in central Mexico. Photo: AFP

Following his escape, shopkeepers began selling souvenirs such as baseball caps branded with "El Chapo" (Guzman's nickname, meaning "Shorty").

-BBC

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