Mexican president: Drug lord ‘El Chapo’ re-arrested

Associated Press

Mexico City — The world’s most-wanted drug lord was captured for a third time in a daring raid on Friday by Mexican marines, six months after he tunneled out of a maximum security prison in a made-for-Hollywood escape that deeply embarrassed the government and strained ties with the United States.

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted to a helicopter in handcuffs by Mexican navy marines at a navy hanger in Mexico City in 2014.

The world’s most-wanted drug lord was captured as Mexican marines staged heavily-armed raids that netted drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced the capture Friday, writing in his Twitter account: “mission accomplished: we have him.”

Few had thought Guzman would be taken alive, and few now believe Mexico will want to try to hold him in Mexican prisons. He escaped from two maximum-security facilities in 2001 and on July 11, 2015, the second on July 11 especially humiliating for the Pena Nieto administration, which only held him for less than 18 months. The U.S. has sought his extradition, though Mexico in the past has said he would serve sentences here first.

Guzman was apprehended after a shootout with Mexican marines in the city of Los Mochis, in Guzman’s home state of Sinaloa, said a federal official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be quoted by name. He said Guzman was taken alive and was not wounded.

Five people were killed and one Mexican marine wounded in the clash in a house. It was unclear if Guzman was there or nearby when the raid was under way. Another law enforcement official confirmed that Guzman had been captured at a motel on the outskirts of Los Mochis.

But given Guzman’s penchant for escaping through tunnels, the details of his capture, once they are released by Mexican officials, are sure to be startling.

The U.S. Justice Department had no immediate comment on whether it would push to extradite Guzman to the United States, where he faces charges in multiple different jurisdictions across the country.

Five people were killed and one Mexican marine wounded in the clash. It was unclear if Guzman was at the house or nearby when the raid was under way.

Another Mexican law enforcement official said authorities located Guzman several days ago, based on reports he was in Los Mochis.

The official, who was not authorized to be quoted by name, said authorities had even searched storm drains in the area. In 2014, Guzman escaped arrest by fleeing through a network of interconnected tunnels in the city’s drainage system in the Sinaloa state capital of Culiacan.

The Mexican Navy said in a statement that marines acting on a tip raided a home in the town of Los Mochis before dawn. They were fired on from inside the structure. Five suspects were killed and six others arrested. The marine’s injuries were not life threatening.

At the home marines seized two armored vehicles, eight rifles, one handgun and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Photos of the arms seized in the raid suggested that Guzman and his associates had a fearsome arsenal at the non-descript white house.

Two of the rifles seized were.50-caliber sniper guns, capable of penetrating most bullet-proof vests and cars. The grenade launcher was found loaded, with an extra round nearby. And an assault rifle had a .40 mm grenade launcher, and at least one grenade.

“Many people had doubted he could be recaptured,” said Mexican security analyst Raul Benitez. “It is a big success for the government.”