THE world’s most wanted drug lord was recaptured in a daring raid by Mexican marines on Friday, six months after he fled through a tunnel from a maximum security prison in an escape that deeply embarrassed the government and strained ties with the United States.
Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto announced the capture on Friday of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman using his Twitter account: “Mission accomplished: we have him.”
Few had thought Guzman would be taken alive, and few now believe Mexico will want to try to hold him a third time in Mexican prisons.
He escaped from maximum security facilities in 2001 and on 11 July, 2015.
Calls started for his immediate extradition to the US, including from a Republican presidential candidate, Florida senator Marco Rubio.
“Given that ‘El Chapo’ has already escaped from Mexican prison twice, this third opportunity to bring him to justice cannot be squandered,” Rubio said.
The United States filed requests for extradition for Guzman on 25 June, before he escaped from prison.
In September, a judge issued a second provisional arrest warrant on US charges of organised crime, money laundering, drug trafficking, homicide and others. But Guzman’s lawyers already filed appeals and received injunctions that could substantially delay the process.
Guzman, a legendary figure in Mexico who went from farmer’s son to the world’s top drug lord, was seized after a shoot-out between gunmen and Mexican marines at a home in an upmarket neighborhood in Los Mochis, a seaside city in Sinaloa.
The Mexican navy said in a statement that marines raided a home after receiving a tip about armed men there. They were fired on from inside the structure, it said. Five suspects were killed and six others arrested.
Guzman may have been at the house and fled while his gunmen and bodyguards provided covering fire from the house, said a second federal law enforcement official. Guzman was later captured at the Hotel Doux, a low-rise modern building on the outskirts of town.
Some reports said he tried to escape through storm drains.
Marines seized two armoured vehicles, eight rifles, one handgun and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher at the home in Los Mochis, the navy’s statement added.