Latin America

Video: How ‘El Chapo’ managed to make his escape behind a mirror

Video footage from a Mexican marine’s helmet-cam shows raid on the drug lord’s hideout

Footage of the raid at El Chapo’s hideout.Video: Secretaría de Marina
Juan Diego Quesada

The bedroom that was used by Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán had to be the one at the end of the house – it was the largest.

It had a television on the wall, a private bathroom and a closet. There are boxes full of underwear, room for shoes and racks for his pressed shirts.

One newspaper reported that ‘El Chapo’ tried to bribe his arresting officers with money and businesses

In theory, the closet mirror was there for the Sinaloa cartel leader to use when straightening his cap or trimming his mustache.

But the closet was empty and the wood had a new smell to it, because in reality it had been built as an escape route for the Sinaloa cartel leader. Behind the closet there was a trapdoor where Guzmán fled as Mexican marines came to arrest him early Friday morning in Los Mochis, the third-largest city in Sinaloa state.

At that house – to which reporters were granted access on Monday – El Chapo lived with a group of faithful bodyguards, who engaged in a fierce firefight with the Mexican authorities when they came to arrest him.

During the shootout, El Chapo and his top hitman were able to flee through the hole in the closet that led to a 15-meter tunnel, which was connected to the city’s sewer system.

The two traveled various kilometers inside the sewage pipe network by crawling on their hands and knees before they reached an opening and then stole a vehicle. At a police checkpoint, they were captured and taken to a seedy motel by authorities, who feared that someone would come to rescue them.

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According to the daily Milenio, El Chapo offered the police money and businesses if they were to let him go.

“You will never have to work again,” he reportedly said.

At this hideout, which he frequently used, two women also lived there. They were in charge of preparing meals – Guzmán had his own cook – and doing laundry.

The bedroom that the authorities believe was used by El Chapo is the only one on the first floor and can only be reached by going through a reinforced door, the kitchen, a living room and a bathroom for visitors.

Back at the hideout, blood can still be seen on the floor, and spent bullet casings attest to the violent shootout between the military and El Chapo’s bodyguards, which gave the drug lord ample time to escape through the sewer system.

It was the same method that Guzmán used in July when he made a daring escape from a high-security prison through a tunnel that was dug underneath his cell.

At first, the Mexican marines believed that El Chapo fled through a hole found under a refrigerator, but it was too small and appeared not to lead anywhere.

When the marines unscrewed a light bulb in the ceiling they found a key that opened the door behind the mirror

In one of the top-floor rooms, there was a copy of the local newspaper El Debate. The walls were left pulverized by grenade fragments and peppered with gigantic bullet holes.

For nearly two hours, the military tried to find the escape route where El Chapo had fled.

“Where is that dude? Where did he go?” the marines are heard shouting at the people who were arrested that morning.

One of them – an expert in tunnels – insisted that there was not enough time to dig an escape route. But he was lying.

When the marines unscrewed a light bulb in the ceiling they found a key that opened the door behind the mirror, which led to some small stairs and a passageway that connected to the city’s sewer system. At the time it seemed like another perfect escape, but El Chapo would soon be in custody once more.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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