The Mexican attorney general released more details from the government’s investigation of Sinaloa drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s high-profile prison escape in July, though she refrained from divulging specifics.
“The exact amount of how much [El Chapo] spent [to escape] we have not documented totally,” Arely Gómez González, Mexico’s attorney general, told Mexican newspaper Milenio in an interview. “But we do know that it was a very high amount of money.”
Since Guzmán’s escape from a high-security prison in central Mexico in July, through a mile-long tunnel from his prison cell to an exit hidden by a partially constructed house, a variety of lurid details have emerged.
Though Gómez González did not reveal specifics about the costs of the breakout, previous reports indicate that some aspects of it cost the notorious kingpin well over $100,000, and it is believed that he paid $3 million for a jailbreak in 2001.
In early November, Mexican newspaper Excelsior reported that the plot of land on which the house was built cost nearly $100,000, while construction of the house itself cost nearly $25,000.
Reports from Excelsior and El Economista indicate that the cartel paid just over $10,000 each to two pilots involved in the escape, one of whom reportedly flew Guzmán from an airstrip in central Mexico to a hideout in northwestern Durango state.
These reports are as yet unverified, and the attorney general’s comments suggest there was a great deal more paid for things like bribes, construction costs, and other expenses required for such an elaborate breakout, though the cost does not seem to be a central focus of the investigation.
“Our focus is toward the investigation in order to know who else is involved in the escape,” Gómez González told Milenio.
The hunt for ‘El Chapo’
In October, it was reported that Guzmán was injured while fleeing a police raid in Sinaloa state, where his cartel is based. The raid was apparently prompted by an investigation that tracked Guzmán’s daughters’ pet monkey from his family’s previous home near the jail that held him to their hideout in the country’s northwest.
While the authorities have failed to catch the cartel chief himself, many other suspected plotters have been arrested, including his lawyer (who allegedly planned the whole thing) as well as his brother-in-law.
“[For] all we have formal arrest warrants and right now we are working on the penal process,” said Gómez Gonzalez.
Guzmán is estimated to have a personal fortune around $1 billion, and the cartel he leads is arguably the most powerful and most lucrative in the world, with almost total control over the US drug market.
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