Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto says authorities have captured fugitive drug lord Joaquin «El Chapo» Guzman, who brazenly escaped from prison through a secret underground tunnel seven months ago.
The president announced Guzman’s capture in a brief announcement in Spanish Friday on Twitter: «Mission accomplished. We have him.»
A Mexican official told The Associated Press that Guzman was arrested after a shootout with Mexican marines in the city of Los Mochis in Sinaloa, Guzman’s home state.
Acting on a tip, authorities said a squad of Mexican marines raided a house in Los Mochis at dawn Friday, and gunfire broke out immediately.
Mexican officials said five suspects were killed and six others arrested. One of the marines was slightly wounded.
Mexican federal authorities had been focusing their manhunt since October on a mountainous region of Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico. Tracking teams had reported it appeared that Guzman had been injured while fleeing marines in rugged terrain near the borders of Sinaloa and Durango states.
Guzman’s July 11 prison escape – his second in the past 14 years – was accomplished through a 1.5-kilometer-long underground tunnel, dig in secret from his cell to a nearby village. It was a major embarrassment to the administration of President Pena Nieto, which had been praised for its aggressive push against Mexico’s top drug lords.
Guzman was first captured in 1993, but escaped in 2001 with the help of prison guards. After more than a decade on the loose, he was recaptured early in 2014, with the help of intelligence that U.S. authorities provided to Mexico.
Mexico has issued arrest warrants for more than 20 former officials, guards and police officers for their alleged participation in Guzman’s escape last year. Ten civilians are also in detention.
Guzman escaped through a rectangular hole found underneath a shower of his prison cell, moving through a fully ventillated tunnel equipped with electric lighting.Authorities also found a motorcycle modified to run on rails; the vehicle apprently was used to haul tools and dirt away from the subterranean site during construction.