Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico's top drug lord Joaquin 'Shorty' Guzman arrested

One of the world's most wanted drug barons, Joaquin Guzman, known as El Chapo or "Shorty", has been arrested in Mexico.

He was the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, which smuggles huge amounts of illegal drugs into the US.

"Shorty" Guzman had been on the run since escaping a high-security prison in a laundry basket in 2001.

He was arrested in Sinaloa state, in a joint operation with US anti-drugs forces.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto used his Twitter account to praise the forces involved in the arrest in the north-western resort of Mazatlan, in Sinaloa state.

Guzman was taken to Mexico City and paraded before the media, before boarding a helicopter surrounded by heavily armed troops.

He was taken straight to prison, Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said.

The US state department had offered a reward of up to $5m (£3.2m) for information leading to his arrest.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Guzman was arrested in Guatemala in 1993, but escaped from a high security jail in Mexico in 2001

US Attorney General Eric Holder described Guzman's arrest as "a landmark achievement" for Mexico and "a victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States".

"Shorty" Guzman has been indicted in the US on federal trafficking charges.

The Sinaloa cartel controls much of the flow of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine to the US.

'Success story'

Guzman's arrest is a big boost for the administration of Enrique Pena Nieto, says the BBC's Will Grant in Mexico City.

Mr Pena Nieto, who took office just over two years ago, said he intended to change the "war on drugs" policy of his predecessor, Felipe Calderon, which critics say led to a rise in violence throughout Mexico.

But Mexican police and troops have killed or arrested key figures in the drugs cartels since Mr Pena Nieto came to power.

The US has also arrested several associates and relatives of "Shorty" Guzman.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption US anti-drugs agents and Mexican forces arrested Guzman in the seaside town of Mazatlan

In May 2012, the US Treasury Department put two of his sons - Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar and Ovidio Guzman Lopez - on its blacklist of drugs kingpins.

Their assets were frozen and US nationals and companies were prevented from doing business with them.

Guzman's father-in-law, Ines Coronel, was arrested nearly a year ago. He was accused of smuggling drugs into the US.

Guzman was born in the town of Badiraguato, probably 56 years ago, and became an important figure in the drug cartels in the 1980s.

He was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and handed over to the Mexican authorities. He was sentenced to more than 20 years in jail, but he bribed officers and escaped a maximum security jail in Mexico in 2001.

Since then, he has continued to run the Sinaloa Cartel with complete impunity.

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