Latin America & Caribbean

'El Chapo' Guzman escape: Mexican prison officials charged

A police officer shows a reward notice as investigators and members of Federal Police continue investigations into the escape of drug trafficker Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, in Amolaya, Mexico, 16 July 2015. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Huge rewards are on offer for the recapture of Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman.

Four Mexican officials have been charged with aiding the escape of the notorious drugs lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman from a maximum security prison.

Two are members of Mexico's secret service who were based at the prison. The others were control room employees who should have monitored his cell.

They are accused of not raising the alarm once Guzman had escaped.

Guzman escaped in July through a tunnel in his cell that ran 1.5km to a building outside the prison walls.

Guzman's Sinaloa cartel is responsible for much of Mexico's trafficking of drugs to the US.

At least three other people have already been charged in relation to the escape.

The latest charges allege that the four officials did not follow protocols and alert their superiors. Prosecutors add that all the necessary systems needed to sound the alarm were fully functioning.

Twitter clue?

Guzman's son may have provided a clue as to where the drug lord is hiding.

Alfredo Guzman tweeted: " I am doing fine here, you already know with whom."

Attached to this was a picture appearing to show his father disguised, with Costa Rica tagged as its location.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Costa Rica was tagged as the tweet's location

However, there has been speculation that the location was set deliberately as a decoy.

After his escape in July, Guzman took to Twitter to taunt the police and insult Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Mr Pena Nieto has promised that all those who had participated in the escape will be punished with "the full weight of the law".

Two prison officials and the prison's warden have already been fired in response to the escape.

A July poll in the newspaper Reforma said 88% of Mexicans believed the escape was an inside job, and 65% blamed the authorities' incompetence rather than Guzman's cunning.

One point of controversy has been whether the Mexican government should have agreed to a US request to extradite Guzman on the basis that American prisons would have been harder for Guzman to break out of.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The shower area where the tunnel Guzman slipped down was located was in his prison cell at the Altiplano maximum security prison, in Almoloya, west of Mexico city.

El Chapo's escapes

First arrested in Guatemala in 1993, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman spent nearly a decade in another maximum-security Mexican jail before escaping, reportedly in a laundry basket.

He was on the run for 13 years before being held again in 2014 after a series of high-profile arrests of associates and covert surveillance by the US authorities.

He had been tracked by a special unit of trusted Mexican Marines to a series of safe houses.

He was finally found with his family at a seaside condominium in a resort town, Mazatlan.

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