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ARRESTED! Godfather of the drug world

February 23, 2014 16:31 IST

ARRESTED! Godfather of the drug world

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Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the legendary boss of the world's most powerful and deadly drug cartel has been captured in Mexico, with the US hailing his arrest as a "landmark" achievement.

Guzman, 56, was captured inside a condominium in the beach resort town of Mazatlan on Saturday without a single shot being fired, ending a 13-year manhunt.

The US had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Guzman, whose Sinaloa cartel smuggled drugs over the Mexican border to America as well as to Europe and Asia.

Guzman, the billionaire head of the Sinaloa Cartel, was labelled "the godfather of the drug world" by US authorities. 

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Image: Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman is escorted by soldiers during a presentation at the Navy's airstrip in Mexico City
Photographs: Edgard Garrido/Reuters

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He along with a woman was captured in a joint operation of Mexican marines and US Drug Enforcement Administration agents that was in the works for four or five weeks.

Welcoming Guzman's arrest, US Attorney General Eric Holder praised Mexico for its "landmark" achievement and said it was a "victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the US." 

"We are pleased that we were able to work effectively with Mexico through the cooperative relationship that US law enforcement agencies have with their Mexican counterparts," Holder said. 

"We look forward to ongoing cooperation, and future successes."

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Image: Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman is escorted by soldiers during a presentation at the Navy's airstrip in Mexico City
Photographs: Henry Romero/Reuters

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Holder's Mexican counterpart Jesus Murillo Karam said the arrest was the result joint operations with the US, which led to 13 arrests and the seizure of weapons that included 97 large guns, 36 handguns, two grenade launchers and a rocket launcher.

Holder noted that Guzman headed a criminal empire accused of killing and destroying "millions of lives across the globe through drug addiction, violence and corruption."

"We salute the government of Mexico, and the professionalism and courage of the Mexican authorities, for this arrest," he added.

Guzman had infamously escaped in 2001 from a high-security prison in a laundry cart. 

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Image: Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman is seen sitting inside a Mexican federal police helicopter at the Navy's airstrip in Mexico City
Photographs: Henry Romero/Reuters

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The pressure on Guzman's organisation had been mounting for months with Mexican authorities killing or capturing several of its most brutal lieutenants, a US law enforcement official said.

Those operations yielded information, including cell phone and other data, that helped Mexican authorities and US drug enforcement agents track Guzman down.

Guzman apparently moved around several Mazatlan homes connected by an elaborate network of tunnels also linked to the city's sewage system. The doors of the seven homes were reinforced with steel, he said, which enabled Guzman to escape via the tunnels before marines could break down the doors.

Mexican government footage showed a handcuffed Guzman, with a dark mustache, being escorted by masked marines in Mexico City. 


Image: Workers sort the freshly printed afternoon daily PM, with the headline reading "El Chapo captured", at the newspaper's printing house in Ciudad Juarez
Photographs: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

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