One of the most infamous drug lords in Mexican history, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, made a daring prison break in 2015 using a hidden tunnel. His drug cartel had purchased a small plot of land near the prison and built two tiny homes there as a front for their true intentions. Within 16 months of Guzman’s incarceration, the cartel, using pickaxes and shovels, had finished digging the tunnel and arrived at his cell. The tunnel was highly developed and expertly built with reinforced walls, a ventilation system, and a rail system for removing dirt from the tunnel.
Guzman managed to escape the jail, but one month later, he was captured by Mexican authorities. He tried to bribe the police for his release after being detained in a stolen car, but they rejected his offers. Guzman threatened the officers and their families. Still, they could stand their ground and hold out until military trucks loaded with Mexican marines arrived and took Guzman into custody. He was extradited to the US, where he now faces a life sentence.
The escape of El Chapo was a massive embarrassment for the Mexican government and law enforcement agencies. The drug lord had already escaped prison once before, in 2001, and his second escape exposed corruption and negligence in the prison system. It is believed that El Chapo’s powerful drug cartel had bribed prison officials to aid in his flight, which was meticulously planned and executed. The tunnel used for his escape was sophisticated, and authorities said it should have taken 18 months to two years to construct. The tunnelers cleverly transferred the dirt from the tunnel to the tunnel opening, where others would spread the soil around the field on the outside rather than dump it in giant piles, which would no doubt draw attention.
El Chapo’s arrest and extradition to the United States marked a significant victory for Mexico and the United States in the fight against drugs. El Chapo’s powerful Sinaloa Cartel carried large-scale drug trafficking into the United States, so his arrest and extradition devastated the cartel’s operations. The extradition also signalled a turning point in the strained ties between the United States and Mexico that had developed recently due to the country’s ongoing drug violence.
El Chapo’s powerful drug cartel carefully planned and carried out his prison break. Underground tunnels and official corruption exposed the corruption and carelessness in the Mexican prison system. But El Chapo’s arrest and extradition to the United States marked a significant victory in the war on drugs and a turning point in relations between the two countries. El Chapo is currently facing life in prison in the US for his crimes.