Drug kingpin Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as “El Chapo,” escaped from a maximum-security prison in Mexico this weekend. It’s his second prison escape. “Anyone who makes a mile-long tunnel from his cell and escapes on a motorcycle is necessarily in collusion with the government,” a government official told Patrick Radden Keefe in his New Yorker post about the news. Last year Radden Keefe described for the magazine how Chapo, whose Sinaloa cartel has long used tunnels to evade law enforcement, was captured after more than a decade on the run:
In the early days of Guzmán’s career, before his time at Puente Grande, he distinguished himself as a trafficker who brought an unusual sense of imagination and play to the trade. Today, tunnels that traverse the U.S.-Mexico border are a mainstay of drug smuggling: up to a mile long, they often feature air-conditioning, electricity, sophisticated drainage systems, and tracks, so that heavy loads of contraband can be transported on carts. Guzmán invented the border tunnel. A quarter of a century ago, he commissioned an architect, Felipe de Jesús Corona-Verbera, to design a grocery store that served as a front company, and a private zoo in Guadalajara for his collection of tigers, crocodiles, and bears. By this point, Guzmán was making so much money that he needed secure locations in which to hide it, along with his drugs and his weapons. So he had Corona-Verbera devise a series of clavos, or stashes—secret compartments under the beds in his homes. Inevitably, a bolder idea presented itself: if you could dig a clavo beneath a house near the U.S. border, why not continue digging and come out on the other side? Guzmán ordered Corona-Verbera to design a tunnel that ran from a residence in Agua Prieta, immediately south of the border, to a cartel-owned warehouse in Douglas, Arizona. The result delighted him. “Corona made a fucking cool tunnel,” he said. Since then, U.S. intelligence has attributed no fewer than ninety border tunnels to the Sinaloa cartel.