It has been one week since Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, one of Mexico’s most high-profile cartel leaders, escaped from a maximum security prison for the second time, and Mexican authorities have reported no new leads as to where he may be.
Guzman leads the powerful Sinaloa cartel, one of the world’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations. Guzman’s July 11 jailbreak, in which he escaped through a ventilated tunnel dug underneath his prison cell shower, set off a highly-publicized manhunt.
Mexican authorities announced Friday that seven prison employees were charged with involvement in Guzman’s escape, according to the Associated Press.
The Mexican interior ministry said Wednesday that it has distributed 100,000 pictures of Guzman to highway tolls, put 10,000 agents on alert at 101 checkpoints across the country and released 48 police dog teams to capture the fugitive, who is wanted in both Mexico and the United States.
Guzman’s first escape from a maximum-security prison took place in 2001 in Jalisco, Mexico, when he allegedly broke out by hiding in a laundry cart. The Mexican government didn’t recapture the kingpin until February 2014.
The escape route Guzman used in his latest bid for freedom was technically sophisticated. The mile-long tunnel, which began in the floor of an abandoned building and ended in a small hole in the floor of Guzman’s shower, was fitted with a modified motorcycle track and a ventilation system.
The 24-hour surveillance in the prison where Guzman was held had only two blind spots for privacy, and one of them was in the shower.
From the time surveillance cameras lost sight of Guzman, it took prison guards 18 minutes to reach his cell. Authorities are investigating if appropriate protocol was followed, or if this interlude enabled Guzman’s escape.
The AP reported that just weeks before Guzman escaped, U.S. government officials requested that he be extradited to the United States to stand trial for charges of drug trafficking, but former Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said earlier this year that Mexico would not extradite Guzman until he served time for his crimes there.
Karam facetiously approximated that time as about “about 300 or 400 years.”