A couple who live next to the end of El Chapo’s escape tunnel have revealed how a mysterious neighbour who called himself ‘El Pastor’ moved into the area six months ago and claimed he was building a house.
Lorenzo Esquivel and Maria Esther Salgado, who live a mile from the Altiplano jail from where drug lord Joaquin Guzman fled, told how the man moved into the grey, brick building at the start of this year, before embarking on a series of building work.
The couple said the man – who they described as tall, portly and in his 50s – would often ferry material to and from the site in his red 4X4 and a white pick up truck.
But despite seeing wood and construction equipment brought to and from the site, the pair said they never saw any material changes taking place at the property.
The building, situated on a green hill in central Mexico State, is where El Chapo emerged from his escape tunnel, before going on the run. It is believed that the kingpin collected clothes left for him by his conspirators at the building. A phone charger was also found lying on the floor.
The couple told MailOnline that the man introduced himself as El Pastor – meaning The Shepherd – and always said hello on his way past.
They said: ‘He definitely wasn’t from around here but he was always very friendly. He told us he was building a new house on the proprty but we never saw any exterior changes.’
The couple told how, on Saturday – the day the drug lord made his escape – two ‘very luxury black 4x4s’ also arrived at the property. The following morning, they saw the cars driving away, alongside El Pastor’s two vehicles, they claim.
They said: ‘The dogs were barking very loudly on Sunday morning. They aren’t used to seeing anyone at that hour.’
Guzman made an audacious escape from a prison 50 miles west of Mexico City on Saturday night, sparking a huge manhunt.
The escape saw him dash through the mile-long tunnel system, which led to a building under construction next to the prison – from where he collected clothes left for him by his conspirators.
Current building work taking place around the perimeter Altiplano prison is said to be connected to a water reservoir project, aiming to bring water from the west of the capital into Mexico City.
The company, Cutzamala Constructions, reportedly started the job around 14 months ago. But some of the pipes have still not been laid and workers admitted they did not know why the work was taking place in that area.
Local media have now began questioning how no-one saw 3,250 tonnes of earth that was removed to construct a tunnel a mile long, 80 centimetres wide, and 1.7 metres tall. 2,652 cubic metres of earth would have to be removed, enough to fill 379 dump trucks.
The prison staff are equipped with radar and electronic depth testing equipment which they are required to use regularly specifically in order to check for things like tunnels but nothing was ever reported.
The Sinaloa cartel has a long history of tunnel building, particularly along the US border where they were used to smuggle narcotics into America, and in his home state of Sinaloa, where subterranean structures still hide weapons.