By Julia Steinberg
In every great magician’s performance, the most sensational and awe-striking tricks come from an escape act. Wrapped tightly with movement-constricting cloths and locks up and down the body, the performer shows few signs of breaking free. As the crowd anxiously awaits the alleged get away, a sudden flash of distraction leaves them aghast within seconds. The great escape artist is free from the bonds of the confining wraps. Defying all odds, the magician dupes the crowd, and captivates the attention of children, women and men alike for years to come. In honoring this trend, a new magician has come into the public eye with his marvelous escape act. His name is El Chapo.
Joaquin Archiralds Guzman Loera, the most wanted and notorious drug Kingpin in the world, was recently captured after escaping close watch in a maximum-security prison in Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico. After being captured for the second time in 15 years he was relocated to the prison in February 2014.
El Chapo’s first visit to prison was a result of heading the Sinaloa Cartel, a billion dollar drug ring. Guzman’s drug empire began in the mid-1980s, but 13 years later
he was put in a maximum security prison in the state of Jalisco for a 21-year sentence.
February 2001 marked Guzman’s first grand escape. He departed the high security penitentiary hidden in a dirty laundry cart, drawing comparisons to many of the escapes manufactured by Hollywood. Years went by with El Chapo on the loose. His lurking was made evident by gun standoffs up and down the Pacific Coast and alleged information from bystanders. Not until April 2009 were there any signs of his location, and he wasn’t captured until Feb 22, 2014, when the authorities were able to get him after he ventured from the mountains to the city of Mazatlan.
Guzman escaped from prison again through a tunnel system on July 11, 2015, and the authorities managed to arrest him on July 11, 2016.
The runaway convict’s story had reached its final page as he was carted off to Almoloya for the last time–that is until the sequel was quickly presented.
Though he was in the most secure prison in Mexico, the mastermind managed to descend from his shower to a mile-long under-ground tunnel. The tunnel was equipped with ample lighting and ventilation. The tunnel emerged into a construction compound, where Guzman was able to flee the scene.
Following El Chapo’s escape, the authorities showed few signs of locating any traces of a trail to him. It wasn’t until a reported meeting in October 2015 with actor Sean Penn and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo that the Mexican authorities got their lead. The two superstars wanted the help of Guzman to produce a film about his life, and like any aspiring Hollywood elite, they sought a first hand account from the legend himself to make their movie a success. After Penn interviewed El Chapo for “Rolling Stone” magazine, the federal authorities were able to follow a lead.
Nearly three months later, El Chapo was arrested a third time. After Mexican marines and outside agencies surrounded his house in the coastal city of Los Mochis, he was carted off to the very place he escaped months earlier. With now two prison escapes under his belt, Mexico seeks the extradition of El Chapo to the United States: Land of promise, freedom and a superior prison system.
As the authorities undergo this alleged extradition process to the U.S., many questions concerning this scandal continue to rise to the surface. Some question Penn’s association with the case, while others wonder about the unsuspected year-long construction of this underground tunnel. However, more than anything else one might wonder if the Mexican penitentiary remembered to patch up that hole in the shower. It’s the little details that matter, and they can’t afford another magic trick from the great El Chapo-dini.
PHOTO COURTESY OF PBS.COM