In a joint effort of Mexican and U.S. law enforcement on Saturday, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the notorious drug kingpin, was taken into custody in the resort city of Mazatlan.
The 56-year-old had evaded capture for 13 years, despite his status as one of the world’s most-wanted drug lords.
Mexico Bureau Chief for Dallas Morning News Alfredo Corchado shared details of Guzman’s capture in a Google+ Hangout.
According to the Associated Press, Mexican marines — acting on information from Guzman’s bodyguards — swarmed the house of Guzman’s ex-wife in Culiacan, only to get tripped up by a steel-reinforced door that proved difficult to take down.
The delay allowed Guzman to flee through a secret door that led to a network of tunnels and sewer canals.
When the authorities caught up with him early Saturday, he was captured in front of the Miramar condominiums.
A U.S. law enforcement official told Alfredo Corchado of the Dallas Morning News that the Americans were given less than a month to work on the ground with Mexican forces to prepare to take down Guzman.
“The Mexican government gave us a set time, and we were right down to the wire — in fact, down to the last day,” said the U.S. official. “This couldn’t have been more dramatic, but the arrest was a credit to our long working relationship with Mexican marines, who led the operation.”
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto acknowledged Guzman’s capture via Twitter on Saturday:
Reconozco la labor de las instituciones de seguridad del Estado mexicano, para lograr la aprehensión de Joaquín Guzmán Loera en Mazatlán.
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) February 22, 2014
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder lauded the efforts of security forces in a statement, calling Guzman’s apprehension a “landmark achievement” and “a victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States.”
“Guzman was one of the world’s most wanted men and the alleged head of a drug-running empire that spans continents. The criminal activity Guzman allegedly directed contributed to the death and destruction of millions of lives across the globe through drug addiction, violence, and corruption,” he said.