By Brendan Case / Bloomberg
President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration just committed what he’d said would be an “unforgivable” mistake: allowing Mexico’s most famous drug trafficker to escape from prison for the second time.
Joaquin Guzman, known by “El Chapo,” vanished late Saturday, apparently breaking out through an almost mile-long tunnel equipped with lighting, ventilation and a motorcycle on rails, the government said.
Eighteen prison employees were being questioned in Mexico City, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said.
“This shows the serious and profound institutional weakness and corruption in Mexico,” Jorge Chabat, a security analyst at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City, said. “It’s much worse that he was detained and escaped again. All the effort Pena Nieto has done to create an image of fighting organized crime is completely destroyed.”
Pena Nieto vowed it would never happen again, with Mexico saying it would try the alleged head of the Sinaloa Cartel before considering his extradition to the U.S., where he’s been indicted in at least five cities.
U.S. officials are furious about the escape, which illustrates why they wanted him extradited, said a senior law enforcement official who asked not to be named because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter.
Not agreeing to extradite Guzman was a “disastrous mistake” by a Mexican administration that has overestimated its capacity to fight crime, said Alejandro Hope, a former Mexican intelligence officer.