Fears of a third prison escape for Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman are being legitimized by ongoing construction near the prison that is holding him. The tunnel previously used for his escape still exists, and is merely guarded by Mexican state and federal officers. El Chapo and his son have taken to social media hinting at another escape on the horizon. The drug lord even has support from some locals in the vicinity of the prison who view him as an “anti-government” folk hero.
Alasdair Baverstock – Mailonline
“Construction work outside the maximum security prison holding Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman has sparked fears the drugs kingpin may be trying to pull another audacious jailbreak.
El Chapo became the world’s most wanted man when he escaped from the same Altiplano prison in July through a mile long underground tunnel.
Digging of that tunnel, which took a year to construct – was muted by the ‘deafening drilling’ of building works directly adjacent to the prison.
Now back in the hands of the authorities, the latest digging outside the jail has prompted speculation that he is plotting yet another bid to get out.
And people living near the jail say if he is capable of getting out twice, he can do it a third time – as he fights extradition to the US.
‘El Chapo is a hero to many ordinary Mexicans for defying the government,’ said Teresa Lopez, who owns a hardware store beside the prison, ‘I certainly wouldn’t put it past him to escape again.’
The drug lord’s engineers bought much of the building materials for the tunnel from local traders, and Teresa hopes her business will benefit from any upcoming escape schemes.
With a knowing smile on her face, Teresa told MailOnline: ‘I don’t ask questions… If someone walks in with a north-western accent [the region of Mexico where Sinaloa state is located] and wants fifty kilos of dynamite, then I’m at their service.’
Following his last jailbreak, El Chapo himself gloatingly tweeted that ‘whatever happens twice, will certainly happen a third time’.
His son Alfredo, thought to be the direct heir to his father’s billion-dollar empire, has also hinted at new plans afoot.
‘Here we go again through this process,’ he tweeted 24 hours after the recapture of his father in Sinaloa state last week.
He’s got all the money in the world,’ said local woman Viviana Dominguez, referring to the drug lord’s estimated $1billion fortune.
She added: ‘As well as being the head of a very powerful criminal organisation… The law doesn’t apply to him like it does to others.’
Since El Chapo’s recapture there have been calls for his extradition to the United States, although Mexico’s Federal Attorney has stated such proceedings may take up to six years to happen.
‘That’s more than enough time for him to get out,’ said Viviana.
Santos Esquivel Sanchez, who spent 14 years in federal prison for involvement in organised crime, now runs a convenience store beside the Altiplano penitentiary.
He is less hopeful of seeing the Sinaloa Cartel boss’s third disappearing act.
He told MailOnline: ‘El Chapo seriously embarrassed the country’s government, and this time around they’re going to make him pay for it.
‘Even if that means sucking up their pride and handing him over to the Gringos.
If history has taught us anything, it is that ‘El Chapo’ has the resources to coordinate another escape. Fears that a new tunnel will be built are valid, but he needs only to pay-off the officers guarding the existing tunnel. An escape appears to be imminent.