It’s only been a few days since Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán escaped from prison through a mile-long tunnel in his shower, and authorities have narrowed down his possible location to “somewhere in the universe, but probably closer than Pluto.”
Small planes would make for an easy, unregulated getaway, although airports near the prison have been shut down or are being closely monitored. The Sinaloa cartel has connections in Central America … and Europe, Australia, and other places in the world. Guzmán is reportedly worth billions and is on Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful people, which probably comes in handy when trying to evade the authorities, or bribe them not to pay attention.
Most, however, think that El Chapo may be hiding right in or near Sinaloa. The last time he escaped prison, that’s where he hid — and allegedly went out for dinners and attended parties often. Jose Reveles, an author who often writes about drug trafficking, told the Los Angeles Times, “They used to say, once El Chapo went into the mountains, it would be like trying to find Osama bin Laden. If a marine, a police officer, a soldier goes into that area, they are seen.”
Mexican officials assume that prison workers were involved in the dramatic escape, and three officials at the Altiplano maximum-security prison have already been fired. The Mexican government is offering up to $3.8 million for information that could lead to Guzmán’s capture.
One former DEA official told CNN that if the drug lord is not found in the next day or so, “I don’t know, we may never see this guy again.”
On the blog ElBlogDelNarco.com, several photos were posted last night of a man with a familiar-looking mustache nursing a beer and riding in a plane, according to the San Antonio News-Express. The blog says that the photos are of Guzmán and were taken after his escape, something that has definitely not been proven and has not been commented on by the DEA. The New York Post had fun transposing the photos into legend despite their questionable veracity, throwing them in a story headlined, “High-flying, beer-swilling El Chapo mocks clueless authorities.”
Those who sing narcocorridos, or drug ballads — polka-ish folk ditties that make drug trafficking sound like something Homer rhapsodized about — have already written new songs about this weekend’s escape. The band Rejegos posted “El Chapo’s Second Escape” on YouTube on Sunday, according to the Austin American-Statesman. One lyric goes, “Sinaloa is partying, because the boss is back / They can’t believe how it happened / Like a mole, he escaped through a tunnel.” There are many, many other narcocorridos about El Chapo, who has a reputation as a sort of Robin Hood in Sinaloa. Some are even thinking about giving Guzmán a new nickname; instead of El Chapo, or “Shorty,” how about El Topo, or “the Mole”?
Even when El Chapo was captured again 16 months ago, many wondered whether the Mexican government would be able to prevent him from escaping, as the Washington Post points out. In February 2014, a reporter asked Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto, “Nearly 70 percent of Mexicans say that there is a possibility that Joaquín Guzmán could escape again. Do you promise that that won’t happen?” Peña Nieto responded, “That would be more than unfortunate. It would be truly unforgivable.”
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said this week that “The U.S. government stands ready to work with our Mexican partners to provide any assistance that may help support his swift recapture.” The New York Times reports that the U.S. has offered drones and plenty of manpower, but has yet to hear back from the Mexican government. Many U.S. officials have grumbled anonymously to reporters that the escape would have never happened in the first place if El Chapo had been extradited, as the U.S. government wanted in the first place.
One former DEA official, Carl Pike, told the Times, “It’s kind of like a joke: ‘Gee, a tunnel, who would have thought.’ It’s kind of a no brainer.”
Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam told the Associated Press in January that he “could accept extradition but at the time that I choose. El Chapo must stay here to complete his sentence and then I will extradite him. So about 300 or 400 years later — it will be a while.” He added that the risk of El Chapo escaping again “does not exist.”
Donald Trump wasn’t as surprised by Guzmán’s escape. Soon after his disappearance was reported, the presidential candidate fired off a few of his trademark, attention-grabbing tweets.
However, he quickly learned that this tweet, like many of his other tweets, was perhaps incorrect.
A Twitter user named @ElChap0Guzman responded in Spanish. The tweet read, “Keep screwing (with us) and I’m going to make you eat your fucking words you lousy white faggot.”
Trump asked the FBI to look into the matter.
Mexican Deputy Interior Minister Roberto Campa did not appear to think that the Twitter accounts were run by Guzmán or his children. “I am told they are apocryphal,” he told Reuters. Trump released a statement on Monday on the matter. “I’m fighting for much more than myself. I’m fighting for the future of our country which is being overrun by criminals. You can’t be intimidated. This is too important.”