San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Drug War

'Guzmán?' Video casts new light on Mexico kingpin escape

MEXICO CITY — A hammer-like noise reverberates in Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán’s cell minutes before his jailbreak. Almost 30 minutes later, a guard finally arrives outside the empty room and asks, “Guzmán?”

New surveillance footage of El Chapo’s July 11 escape, leaked to the Televisa channel on Wednesday, featured for the first time audio from the maximum-security prison cell near Mexico City.

The images show previously unseen footage before and after El Chapo Guzmán sneaked down a hole in his shower. Televisa also obtained images from the surveillance camera control room.

Guzmán, 58, lay on his bed under a blanket while watching a show on a small television when the loud hammering suddenly rings out.

The Sinaloa drug cartel chief gets up, heads to the shower, bends down behind a dividing wall, and disappears at 8:52 p.m. Nobody seems to immediately react among the half-dozen people working in the control room.

See also: Lawyer for Mexico’s most-wanted man, ‘El Chapo,’ doesn’t know where client is

At 9:18 p.m., a guard appears outside the cell and asks, “Guzmán? Guzmán? Guzmán Loera?” using the most-wanted man’s full last name.

A guard is later heard speaking to a commander, saying as he looks between the cell’s bars: “There’s a hole in the shower.”

When the commander asks the size of it, the guard answers: “Large, chief, large.”

“But the intern is not there?” the commander asks. “No, chief. He’s not.”

It is only at 9:29 p.m., or 37 minutes after El Chapo slipped out, that guards finally open the cell door and go into the hole.

One guard can be heard saying that the hole was sealed farther down.

Guzmán fled through a 1.5-kilometer (one mile) tunnel with a redesigned motorcycle on special tracks, emerging in a house outside the prison.

‘Officials lied’

Opposition Senator Alejandro Encinas, a member of Congress’s bicameral security committee, accused the government of “lying and hiding information” to lawmakers about the escape, noting that officials had said that it took 18 minutes for guards to go to the cell.

Encinas also complained that authorities had refused to provide a copy of the video to his committee.

More than a dozen officials have been arrested over the escape, including several guards, the prison director and the head of Mexico’s national penitentiary system.

The jailbreak was a massive embarrassment for President Enrique Peña Nieto, who lost one of the greatest victories of his administration.

Guzmán had been captured in February 2014 after a 13-year manhunt. He had previously escaped from another maximum-security prison in 2001 by sneaking out inside a laundry cart.

Peña Nieto had refused to hand Guzmán over to the United States, but the authorities have now secured an arrest warrant to extradite him if he is captured again.

Related: ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán and the Sinaloa cartel have growing ties to Costa Rica, authorities say

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