LATIN AMERICA

Mexican president announces capture of drug lord “El Chapo” Guzmán

The world’s most-wanted trafficker has been arrested in Sinaloa, Peña Nieto confirms

Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, the world’s most-wanted drug lord, has been arrested in Mexico, according to government sources.

His capture, which was confirmed by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in a Twitter message, brings an end to a huge manhunt that began on July 11 when the drug kingpin escaped from El Altiplano maximum security prison outside Mexico City via a 1,500-meter-long tunnel dug under the facility.

“Mission accomplished: we have him,” Peña Nieto wrote. “I want to inform Mexicans that Joaquín Guzmán Loera has been arrested.”

His escape caused huge embarrassment to the Peña Nieto administration and turned the recapture of the Sinaloa cartel leader into the greatest challenge of the president’s term of office so far.

According to official sources, that mission was finally completed in the early hours of Friday morning in Mochis, in El Chapo’s home state of Sinaloa, when navy commandos burst into a property in the town. Five of the drug lord’s alleged bodyguards are believed to have died – though whether the deaths occurred in this operation or in a connected one is unclear.

Authorities had been closing in on the drug trafficker in recent months. He had already managed to evade navy commandos, who had previously captured him in 2014, in Los Mochis in July and at a ranch in the Sierra Madre mountains in October – on both occasions slipping away at the last moment and even injuring himself in the process. But the Mexican government viewed his arrest as a mere matter of time, mobilizing thousands of soldiers, police officers and intelligence agents to achieve its goal. The US also collaborated in the pursuit.

English version by Nick Funnell.