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Video shows Guzman’s daring shower escape – Prosecutors formally detain 22 prison officials

A motorcycle adapted to a rail is seen under the half-built house on Tuesday where drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman made his escape through a tunnel from the Altiplano maximum security prison

A motorcycle adapted to a rail is seen under the half-built house on Tuesday where drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman made his escape through a tunnel from the Altiplano maximum security prison

MEXICO CITY: Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman paced nervously in his cell before bending down behind his shower’s short wall and vanishing, according to newly released security footage of his daring jailbreak. While the video released late Tuesday shows Guzman walking back and forth three times before crouching into the shower with his prison garb on, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said it was normal behavior for prison inmates. The small hole on the shower floor that Guzman slipped into late Saturday is not seen in the close-circuit camera, which is monitored 24 hours a day.

It also does not show the moment he takes off a monitoring bracelet. A surveillance camera was on the top corner of a wall outside the cell and another inside pointing toward the shower, but authorities said they had two blind spots to protect the inmate’s privacy. Rubido said Guzman was last seen at 8:52 pm, without indicating how long it took for prison guards to sound the alarm. Guzman’s second escape from a maximum-security prison in 14 years is a huge embarrassment to President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration, which had celebrated the capture of the world’s most wanted drug baron just 17 months ago.

‘Natural Behavior’
While a massive manhunt for Guzman entered its third full day, prosecutors formally detained 22 officials from the Altiplano prison outside Mexico City amid suspicions of an inside job. Twelve others held since Sunday were released. The two-minute video shows the diminutive Guzman - his nickname means “Shorty” - apparently urinating before walking toward his small bed. He goes back toward the shower, returns to the bed, and back to the bathroom, bending down behind the wall. Guzman then sits on his bed and changes footwear before heading back to the shower for the last time and bending down. A towel on the dividing wall falls behind it. “It’s a natural behavior for prisoners in a confined space for a prolonged time,” Rubido told a news conference.

The government also showed a video of the 1.5-km escape tunnel, which had a motorcycle rigged on a special rail system with two metal carts in front of it. Guzman exited at the other end of the tunnel, going up a ladder into a building on a property surrounded by fields. The moment guards noticed that Guzman was gone, they issued a red alert via radio and the prison was placed on lockdown, Rubido said. But prosecutors are investigating whether protocols were properly followed, he said. Some 700 federal forces were deployed to the nearby highway, flights were suspended at the nearby Toluca airport and alerts were issued to other airports. Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said that Guzman “must have” had help from prison officials in his brazen escape. Authorities have 96 hours to either charge or release the 22 prison officials who were placed in custody on Tuesday. Authorities declined to say whether the prison’s director, who was fired on Monday, was among those released or kept in custody.

$3.8 Million Bounty
The government also released images of Guzman’s cell after his escape, showing the rectangular hole on the floor of his shower, which is covered with humidity stains. Guzman had to squeeze in next to a pipe to make his way down. At the other end, a tall ladder leads up to an anteroom with a large, blue generator to power the lights inside the tunnel. Prosecutors have questioned the owner of the property to figure out who had bought or rented it. Two of Guzman’s attorneys have also been interrogated.

The escape marks the second time since 2001 that Guzman managed to flee a maximum-security prison. The government has offered a $3.8 million reward for Guzman’s capture, double the amount it usually offers for the country’s most wanted criminals. Osorio Chong met with US Ambassador Anthony Wayne, agreeing “to strengthen the coordination and collaboration that exists between the two countries with the goal of recapturing Joaquin Guzman,” the interior ministry said. US prosecutors had expressed interest in getting his extradition after his Feb 2014 arrest, but the Mexican authorities indicated that they wanted to try him first. Amid mounting outrage at the escape, Mexican lawmakers asked Osorio Chong and other top security officials to testify before Congress on Thursday. The legislature’s security committee said the escape “affects the national security strategy of the state.” — AFP

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This article was published on 15/07/2015