International drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán is known for his elaborate tunnel systems, both to transport drugs and to facilitate his incredible escapes, including the one that helped him slip out of a maximum-security prison cell in Altaplano, Mexico, in July. The kingpin’s second prison break was considered a national embarrassment, and the shame has likely deepened now that security tapes have revealed exactly what the guards were doing when El Chapo disappeared from his cell. They were, like many bored office drones not tasked with standing watch over one of the world’s most notorious criminals, playing solitaire on their computers. Others didn’t even bother to keep up the ruse of workplace procrastination and had simply turned off their monitors, reports El Universal.
The guards had originally told investigators that their computers had frozen, and when they booted back up, El Chapo was gone. They claimed they called the monitoring station about 30 times to notify them about El Chapo’s disappearing act, but no one answered. But technical experts believe the system never froze and guards reset the computers themselves, which the judge presiding over the case of two of the guards said “was deliberate to give the leader of the Sinaloa that which he needed to escape: time.” The guards did make calls to the monitoring center —but only three, not dozens.
The judge also said that though El Chapo escaped shortly before 9 p.m., the guards didn’t make their way to the cell to check it out until 9:15 p.m., by which time Guzmán was probably riding his tiny motorcycle to freedom. The prison also did not activate the el codigo rojo — basically Code Red — that put the prison on total lockdown and alerted the military until midnight, giving the kingpin about a three-hour head start.
According to La Prensa, so far at least 13 prison workers and the former director of the maximum-security prison at Altiplano are being prosecuted in El Chapo’s prison break, but in their defense, it’s probably easy to miss the clanging of hammers and drills over the sound of those shuffling cards.