El Chapo's vanishing act caught on camera
Dramatic video footage of billionaire Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s prison cell just minutes before his grand escape has been revealed. Guzman is seen in the video, released by Mexico's National Security commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido, walking back and forth in his cell and sitting on his bed before heading to an area near his shower.
Rubido said in a press conference that prior to Guzman’s escape, his behavior appeared to be natural of an inmate who spends long hours in a cell.
The cells do, however, have two blind spots from the camera, to allow for privacy in the bathroom and in the shower. Guzman reportedly used an opening in the shower to begin his elaborate escape on Saturday night.
The drug kingpin prised open a 50cm-by-50cm grill in the shower floor, and climbed down a 32ft shaft into the complex tunnel system, which Mexican officials estimate to have taken his henchmen a total of 352 days, with four miners working eight to 10 hour shifts - all right under the feet of the guards.
In contrast to the clean-shaven photo of Guzman that Mexican officials released this weekend in what was said to be a recent picture, Guzman appears to have a full head of hair.
It is unclear if he has a mustache, but the hair seems to be consistent with pictures where he is pictured drinking and flying on an airplane in what his sons claim to be photos taken this weekend.
The video comes as a former DEA agent claims he warned Mexican officials that the drug lord would escape again if he wasn’t extradited to the United States after his capture last year.
Phil Jordan, the former head of the DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center said that it was a ‘significant arrest’ in February 2013, after Guzman had been on the run for 13 years following another prison escape.
But Jordan said it would only be considered a success if Guzman, who escaped from a maximum-security prison again on Saturday, was immediately taken out of Mexico.
‘If he does not get extradited, then he will be allowed to escape within a period of time... If he is, in fact, incarcerated, until he gets extradited to the United States, it will be business as usual,’ he told CNN at the time.
There were also a number of other warnings made: in March last year, agents in Los Angeles reported a 'possible escape operation funded by another drug trafficking organization linked to the Sinaloa cartel'. The DEA didn’t specify which organization was behind the attempt, but 'threats' and 'bribes' to prison officials were mentioned.
Perhaps more telling, in July 2014 El Chapo was overheard discussing escape plans with lawyers during legal counsel times. He also used these meetings to continue with the administration of his cartel's operations from prison, sending directions to his son Ivan who would then act on them.
And because Guzman was never extradited, Jordan, who spend 30 years with the DEA, was not shocked that the drug lord had yet again escaped.
‘No, I'm surprised it took a year for him to escape,’ he said, before correcting himself: ‘Before he was allowed to escape.’
Jordan, like many others, believes that Guzman had help from his escape, even from those outside the people who dug his tunnel.
After his 2001 escape, dozens of prison workers, including the warden, were prosecuted.
Jordan went on to say that Guzman’s capture in 2014 was ‘absolute BS’, adding that the extradition ‘was never going to happen’.
‘They don’t capture Guzman unless they’ve made a deal with Guzman not to extradite him to the United States,’ he said.