By Bart Jansen and Greg Toppo / USATODAY
A notorious Mexican drug kingpin who escaped once before from prison and spent more than a decade on the lam has done it again.
This time, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman disappeared down a hole near his cell and walked nearly a mile underground to freedom, triggering a massive manhunt Sunday.
Guzman wielded so much power as head of the Sinaloa drug cartel that the Chicago Crime Commission called him Public Enemy No. 1, a label applied to gangster Al Capone in 1930.
Guzman, 56, escaped late Saturday from Mexico’s Altiplano maximum-security prison through a specially built, lighted and ventilated tunnel that ended in a half-built house in a rural farm field near the prison.
The elaborate escape route, built allegedly without the detection of authorities, allowed Guzman to do what Mexican officials promised would never happen again: slip out of one of the country’s most secure penitentiaries.
“This represents without a doubt an affront to the Mexican state,” President Enrique Peña Nieto said Sunday during a previously scheduled trip to France. “But I also have confidence in the institutions of the Mexican state … that they have the strength and determination to recapture this criminal.”