Mexican drug cartel chief Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán was reportedly recaptured nearly six months following his second prison escape according to President Enrique Peña Nieto:
Misión cumplida: lo tenemos. Quiero informar a los mexicanos que Joaquín Guzmán Loera ha sido detenido.— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) January 8, 2016
Few details are known about the Friday morning operation though the Mexican media reported that Guzmán was nabbed in Los Mochis, Sinaloa state. At least five members of the fugitive's security convoy were killed amid a gunfight with approximately seventy Mexican soldiers.
The Sinaloa cartel boss had been on the run since July 11, 2015 when he fled the maximum security Altiplano prison via an underground tunnel from his jail cell. This incident thoroughly embarrassed the Peña Nieto administration and shone an uncomfortable light on corruption within the Mexican security structure.
Despite rumors alleging that Guzmán escaped Mexico for another country in Latin America, his pursuers focused primarily on the "Triangulo Dorado" ("Golden Triangle") area of Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Durango states. It was in this region where Guzmán was caught today and nearly nabbed last November in an operation that left him injured in his face and a leg.
If the rumors of his capture are true, then Guzmán will more than likely be extradited to the U.S. as soon as today, He is charged in several federal courts with drug trafficking and related crimes.
Updates can be read below the page break.
Update (2:45 PM): Photo purportedly of "El Chapo" after his re-arrest this morning:
Update (4:20 PM): The purported recapture of Guzmán comes following the Mexican federal government's reaction to the murder of Temixco mayor Gisele Mora less than 24 hours after taking office. State police were given permission to take over police forces in fifteen municipalities under the controversial "mando unico" program. Tlaquiltenango mayor Enrique Alonso Plascencia said that townspeople are opposed to the "arbitrary" takeover of the local police and worried over potential abuses. Retired soccer star turned Cuernavaca mayor Cuautehmoc Blanco denounced the "mando unico" initially barred ceding police control to the state, which led the Morelos governor to accuse Blanco of having ties to organized crime.Difunden imagen de El Chapos tras su captura https://t.co/Tl2FUe3qDm https://t.co/jqLzyGx2m7 pic.twitter.com/Hcku1tpxVx— El Universal (@El_Universal_Mx) January 8, 2016
Update (4:50 PM): Peña Nieto confirmed the capture of Guzmán at press conference in Mexico City. The detention came as a result of "months of intense and thorough intelligence work." "All goals can be accomplished if we trust in the strength of our institutions," he added. "There is no greater strength than when Mexicans can come together," noted the president who faced an immense humiliation when Guzmán escaped from prison last year.
Peña Nieto neglected to mention any U.S. intelligence or security help regarding the recapture of "El Chapo" even though the Drug Enforcement Agency noted their collaboration with their Mexican counterparts.
Update (11:35 PM): At a press conference at Mexico City's international airport, Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong said that the recapture of "El Chapo" and senior Sinaloa cartel member Orso Iván Gastelum Cruz ("El Cholo") is the fruit of many months of labor by national security forces.
Attorney General Arely Gomez added that authorities have arrested the group that built the tunnel that helped Guzmán escape a maximum security prison last July. One of those captured assisted in the construction of two tunnels crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
She further revealed that Guzmán fled to Guerrero state the day he escaped then traveled to the "Triangulo Dorado"region.
Gomez noted that during his time on the lam associates of "El Chapo" contacted producers, actors and others to create an autobiographical film on the fugitive capo. Later, "El Chapo" limited his communications and cut some of his security as he sought refuge in the "Triangulo Dorado".
Security forces had the town of Los Mochis under surveillance for one month, and in the early morning hours of Friday located Guzmán. He was initially able to stay one step ahead by using the rain drainage system but emerged above ground and commandeered a stolen vehicle. The Marines were nevertheless able to stop him and took him to a local motel. He and "El Cholo" would then by taken to Mexico City where numerous medical exams were performed on them.
Following her comments, "El Cholo" and "El Chapo" appeared briefly when they were transferred to from armored vehicles to awaiting helicopters. Guzmán will subsequently traveled to the same Antiplano maximum security prison that he escaped from last July.
It is not yet known if "El Chapo" will be extradited to the U.S. though a previous request still stands according to the Justice Department.
Update (January 9th, 4:05 PM): According to the Mexican media, the country's Attorney General's Office will "fight" any legal obstacles that would prevent the extradition of Guzmán to the U.S. The Mexcian Foreign Ministry analyzed the numerous extradition requests from north of the border and determined that they all are legal under bilateral agreements.
Thus, the main issues may not be if "El Chapo" will be sent to the U.S. but when and which federal court will be the first to put him under trial.
Update (January 10th, 6:15 PM): The Mexican Attorney General's Office (PGR) will investigate well-known telenovela actress Kate del Castillo and U.S. actor Sean Penn after the latter was able to secretly interview Guzmán last October. In the interview conducted while he was on the lam, "El Chapo" talked about his upbringing and admitted to smuggling heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana worldwide.
Del Castillo is believed to have helped arrange the get-together between Penn and Guzmán, though the PGR thinks she planned to produce a biopic on "El Chapo" prior to his prison escape last July.
The PGR will reportedly attempt to subpoena del Castillo to testify and explain her role in the Guzmán affair, while prosecutors could work with their U.S. counterparts to get Penn to speak to consular officials regarding the interview.
Video Source - Excelsior TV
Online Sources (English) - NPR, CNN, BBC News, Reuters
Online Sources (Spanish) - Twitter, El Informador, El Diario, CNNExpansion.com, Excelsior, El Universal, La Jornada