Latin America

New video shows how guards ignored banging sounds inside ‘El Chapo’s’ cell

New video supports evidence that prison officials helped Sinaloa drug lord escape

Video with sound taken the night 'El Chapo' escaped.Photo: reuters_live | Video: Reuters Live
David Marcial Pérez

A new video with sound has been released showing the escape of notorious drug lord Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán Loera from a maximum security penitentiary in Mexico last July. The recording, parts of which had been seen before but with no sound, includes noises of a hammer banging against a wall and footage of prison guards sitting motionless in front of their computers as the scene unfolds.

Obtained by the Mexican television network Televisa, the recording raises more questions about the daring escape of the Sinaloa drug cartel leader, who before disappeared through a hole that was dug underneath his shower stall.

The security video is the first to be made public that includes sounds rather than just images

A massive nationwide search for the drug kingpin, who is also wanted in the United States, was launched soon after he fled the Altiplano prison outside Mexico City on July 11 through a sophisticated mile-long tunnel with ventilation and lighting. A motorcycle had been used to move the dirt, according to investigators.

El Chapo – one of the most wanted drug lords in the world – had been captured by Mexican authorities in February 2014.

In the new video, which lends credence to the theory that prison authorities aided in his escape, a split screen is seen, showing El Chapo watching television at around 8.30pm in his cell while five guards sit in front of their computers in another room.

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Loud banging can be heard for about 10 minutes but the guards remain motionless, and the high volume from the television doesn’t seem to appear to muffle the sounds.

A nervous El Chapo can be seen covered up to his neck in a blanket, biting his fingernails while he stares at the TV screen.

At one point, the trafficker is seen getting up and walking toward the shower stall where the noise is coming from. Because of privacy concerns, security cameras were not pointed at this area.

At 8.51pm, a noise, which sounds like the breaking of ground, can be heard followed by a voice coming from inside the hole.

“Let’s go!”

El Chapo changes his shoes and walks toward the shower for the third and last time before disappearing inside the hole.

A nervous El Chapo can be seen covered in a blanket, biting his fingernails while he stares at the TV

For at least 25 minutes, the guards fail to react. Then at 9.17pm, another guard walks in and calls on two other officers, who go to El Chapo’s cell.

“Guzmán Loera, Guzmán Loera, Guzmán Loera...,” they can be heard calling out.

The two guards communicate with their commanding officer to inform him that Guzmán was no longer in his cell and that they have discovered “a big hole” in the shower drain.

Mexican authorities have not revealed how much time actually passed between Guzmán’s escape and when the prison alarms were activated.

Currently, more than 30 people have been arrested in connection with the escape, including former federal penitentiary director Celina Oseguera Parra and Altiplano prison warden Valentín Cárdenas Lerma.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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