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Mexico: Drug Lord 'El Chapo' Injured while Fleeing Marines

  • VOA News

Mexican federal authorities hunting fugitive drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman say they are focusing their manhunt on a mountainous region of his northwestern home state of Sinaloa, following the outlaw's brazen prison escape through a 1.5-kilometer long tunnel in July.

In a statement late Friday, Mexico's security cabinet said trackers believe Guzman recently sustained injuries while fleeing Mexican marines in the rugged terrain near the borders of Sinaloa and Durango states.

The statement did not say when the injuries occurred or how they learned of them. But earlier in the week, Mexican Attorney General Arely Gomez said authorities had captured a pilot who helped Guzman to escape in a small plane from a maximum security prison near Mexico City.

Wire services quote an unnamed government official saying Guzman hurt himself in "one of several" falls as he fled marines in the Sierra Madre mountains. A second official is quoted as saying the operation took place earlier this month. Both said marines had been hunting the fugitive for weeks in the Sinaloa-Durango area known as the Golden Triangle.

The U.S. network NBC also reported on the near-capture, saying it came after U.S. agents intercepted cellphone signals from an area ranch.

Guzman's July 11 prison escape -- his second in the past 14 years -- remains a major embarrassment to the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto, which had been praised for its aggressive push against his country's top drug lords.

Guzman was captured in early 2014, with the help of U.S. intelligence, after more than a decade as a fugitive. He was first captured in 1993, but escaped in 2001 with the help of prison guards.

Mexico has issued arrest warrants for more than 20 former officials, guards and police officers for their alleged participation in Guzman's latest escape. Ten civilians are also in detention.

Guzman escaped through a rectangular hole found underneath a shower of his prison cell, moving through a fully ventillated tunnel equipped with electric lighting. Authorities also found a motorcycle modified to run on rails that they believe was used to haul tools and dirt from the subterranean site during construction.

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