Latin America & Caribbean

'El Chapo' escape: Prison chiefs 'among 13 new arrests'

A Federal Police shows a reward notice for information leading to the capture of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, in Almoloya, west of Mexico City, on 16 July 2015. Image copyright AP
Image caption Guzman had served just 17 months of his prison sentence when he escaped

Mexico has arrested top serving and former prison officials over the escape of the notorious drugs lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman from jail.

Mexico's ex-head of federal prisons was among 13 people detained, sources close to the prosecutor said.

The ex-directors of the jail from which Guzman fled were also reportedly held.

Investigators say Guzman had inside help to ease his escape in July through a tunnel under a shower in his cell that ran 1.5km outside the prison.

It was the second escape from a maximum security prison for Guzman, whose Sinaloa cartel is responsible for much of Mexico's trafficking of drugs to the US.

Prison officials dismissed

At least seven officials, including two members of Mexico's secret service and two prison control room employees, had already been arrested, accused of not raising the alarm once Guzman had escaped.

The office of Mexico's attorney general confirmed the 13 new arrests on Friday, but did not reveal the identity of the suspects.

However, the former national co-ordinator for Mexico's prison system, Celina Oseguera, was named as one of the suspects, sources close to the prosecutor told the AFP news agency.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The US is helping the Mexican authorities with their investigation

Ms Oseguera was removed from her high-level post after Guzman escaped on 11 July.

Both directors of Altiplano prison, Valentin Cardenas and Lenor Garcia, who were also sacked after the escape, are also reportedly being held.

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 would be punished with "the full weight of the law".

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 Guzman escaped through a hole in the shower of his prison cell at the Altiplano maximum security prison, in Almoloya, west of Mexico city

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.

More on this story