Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico makes 'key' arrests over El Chapo Guzman's escape

A burned truck is pictured at the Comedero Colorado ranch, in the municipality of Tamazula, Durango State, on 18 October 2015. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Dozens of vehicles were damaged in a recent army operation to recapture the fugitive last week

Mexico officials say they have arrested six key people who allegedly helped fugitive drug cartel leader Joaquin Guzman escape from jail in July.

Among those detained is his brother-in-law and one of the two pilots who flew Guzman to his home state.

Mexico's attorney general said a member of Guzman's legal team, described as the mastermind, was also arrested.

Guzman, head of the Sinaloa cartel, escaped from a high-security prison through a specially dug tunnel.

Attorney General Arely Gomez told reporters on Wednesday that the suspected mastermind of the escape had repeatedly entered Altiplano prison to visit Guzman and update him on the operation's progress.

She also said Guzman's brother-in-law had supervised the construction of the mile-long escape tunnel and organised transport.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Joaquin Guzman was captured in 2014 but escaped from prison in July

"Today we are able to affirm that the group responsible for planning, organising and carrying out the escape from outside the prison has been broken up," Ms Gomez said, without naming the suspects.

The development comes days after officials revealed the drugs lord had suffered face and leg injuries when he narrowly evaded a police operation to recapture him in north-west Mexico earlier this month.

Ms Gomez confirmed on Wednesday that after his escape, Guzman travelled by land to the city of Queretaro, from where he caught a small plane to his home state of Sinaloa.

His escape was an embarrassment for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who Guzman taunted on Twitter after the event.

Several prison officials have already been arrested under suspicion of giving inside help to Guzman, who fled through a tunnel that ran 1.5km from under a shower in his cell to outside the prison.

Guzman was first arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and 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.

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