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Mexico thought this infamous drug lord wouldn't escape from prison again

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is on the run.

Joaquin El Chapo Guzman Source: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File

DRUG LORD JOAQUIN Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has done what Mexican authorities promised would not happen again after his re-capture last year — escaped for a second time from a maximum security prison.

A manhunt began immediately late last night for the head of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, which has an international reach and is believed to control most of the major crossing points for drugs at the US border with Mexico.

Associated Press journalists near the Altiplano prison, 90 kilometers west of Mexico City, said the roads were being heavily patrolled by Federal Police, who had also set up checkpoints.

Flights were also suspended at Toluca airport near the penitentiary in the state of Mexico.

Guzman was last seen about 9pm in the shower area of the Altiplano prison, according to a statement from the National Security Commission issued today. After a time, he was lost by the prison’s security camera surveillance network.

Upon checking his cell, authorities found it empty.

Mexican officials had no further comment on Guzman’s escape, but have scheduled a press conference.

Mexico Drug War Drug Lord Escapes A 1993 file photo of Guzman. Source: Associated Press

Guzman’s escape is a blow to the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto, which has received plaudits for its aggressive approach to top drug lords. Since the government took office in late 2012, Mexican authorities have nabbed or killed six of them, including Guzman.

Guzman was caught by authorities for the first time in Guatemala in 1993, extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison on drug-trafficking related charges.

He escaped from Puente Grande, another Mexican maximum-security prison in western Jalisco state, in 2001 with the help of prison guards. The lore says he escaped in a laundry cart, although there have been several versions of how he got away.

He was re-captured in February 2014 after eluding authorities for days across his home state of Sinaloa, for which the cartel is named. He was listed as 56 years old last year, though there are discrepancies in his birth date.

Extradition

Guzman faces multiple federal drug trafficking indictments in the US as well as Mexico, and was on the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted list. The US has said it would file an extradition request, though it’s not clear if that has already happened.

Former Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam told The AP earlier this year that sending Guzman to the United States would save Mexico a lot of money, but said Mexico would prosecute him at home as a matter of national sovereignty.

He dismissed concerns that Guzman could escape a second time. That risk “does not exist,” Murillo Karam said.

During his first stint as a fugitive, Guzman transformed himself from a middling Mexican capo into arguably the most powerful drug trafficker in the world. His fortune grew to be estimated at more than $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine, which listed him among the “World’s Most Powerful People” and ranked him above the presidents of France and Venezuela.

Read: Mexican drug cartel targets police in ambush attack and kills 15 >

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Associated Press

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