(CBS) — A man once called Chicago’s “Public Enemy Number One” has escaped from a maximum security prison.
The notorious drug lord made his prison break from a facility outside Mexico City.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escaped busted out of a prison near Mexico City late Saturday night. It is not the first time the Guzman has escaped from prison.
Guzman escaped through an elaborate, lighted tunnel from the prison’s shower room to an exit about a mile away.
Guzman ran the powerful Sinaloa cartel, a group tied to the violent drug war in Mexico. Its reach spans as far away as Europe and Australia.
Prison workers say he was last seen in the showers then vanished. making his way out through an elaborate, lighted tunnel from the prison’s shower room to an exit about a mile away.
Guzman was most recently captured back in February 2014 after more than a decade on the run from drug trafficking indictments. He was also captured back in 1993.
He was extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison in Mexico at the time. But in 2001 he escaped from another maximum security prison, with the help of prison guards.
His ties to Chicago are significant. Not only as the hub of his drug trade but through these brothers.
Pedro and Margarito Flores testified against “El Chapo” back in 2009 in exchange for receiving reduced sentences and protection from the cartel.
They described a drug empire flowing through the Windy City including thousands of kilos of cocaine and tens of millions of dollars per month.
Guzman gained the title “Public Enemy Number One” by the Chicago Crime Commission and lost the title once he was captured. A spokesman says now that he has escaped, Guzman will formally regain the title this week.
CBS 2 Security Consultant Ross Rice believes Guzman needed inside help in order to get out.
“The way a prison is set up and the rules and procedures that are in place, it would be impossible for someone to get into a shower room and escape without being detected unless they had unless they had some sort of collusion.”
Rice, a former FBI agent, also believes fellow cartel members helped him escape too. He says El Chapo’s escape could have been prevented if Mexico had turned him over to U.S. authorities as requested.
“he’s going to go into a very long, very deep hiding and he is going to be helped by a number of people with a great amount of resources at his disposal,” Rice said. “I don’t see him ever surfacing again.”
A search operation began immediately for “El Chapo”
Flights have been suspended at the airport closest to the prison.
The roads are being heavily patrolled by federal police and checkpoints are set up.