After years of evading capture for more than 12 years, notorious Mexican drug lord and cartel chief Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was captured in a surprise raid on a seaside hotel-condominium tower in a bustling Mexican beach resort, according to CNN reports. The Sinaloa Cartel is one of the world’s most powerful and deadly drug trafficking organizations and has been blamed for its role in the bloody drug war that has plagued Mexico in recent years, leaving tens of thousands of people dead. “El Chapo”, as he is infamously known, escaped from a high-security prison in a laundry cart in 2001.
A U.S. law enforcement official told CNN that Guzman, accompanied by a female, was captured in a joint operation of Mexican marines and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents that was in the works for four or five weeks. The pressure pipe essentially about burst as Mexican officials have been killing or capturing the cartel’s most dangerous lieutenants in recent months. Each operation led to the discovery of new information and evidence including a cell phone that assisted authorities in tracking El Chapo down. Guzman moved around in various homes that had escape tunnel systems and steel-enforced entrances that made it possible for him to effectively escape before marines could break down the doors. In addition to the escape tunnels, Guzman also avoided being captured over the years due to his immense power and his ability to corrupt Mexican officials.
His arrest delivered a significant blow to the drug operation that had expanded from the Americas to Europe. When the news reached in Washington, D.C, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder hailed the arrest “a landmark achievement, and a victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States.” Although there is more work to be done to bring down the rest of the cartel members, U.S. and Mexican officials are off to a running start.