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Report: Guards Ignored Hammering Sounds From 'El Chapo's Cell

  • Reuters

A employee sprays Guzman masks at Grupo Rev in the Mexican city of Cuernavaca, near Mexico City, Oct. 14, 2015.

A employee sprays Guzman masks at Grupo Rev in the Mexican city of Cuernavaca, near Mexico City, Oct. 14, 2015.

Loud hammering was audible in Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's prison cell when accomplices tunneled inside to spring him in July, but guards failed to act, according to recordings released by broadcaster Televisa Wednesday.

Grainy video footage broadcast by Televisa revealed Guzman turned up the volume on a televisual device by his bed to drown out the noise as his helpers hammered a hole through the floor under the shower, the only blind spot in the cell.

The government, which was severely embarrassed by the escape, had previously shown some of the same CCTV footage of the minutes before Guzman disappeared down the hole and escaped the maximum-security prison through a mile-long tunnel.

However, unlike Televisa, the government did not supply the accompanying audio of loud banging sounds that could be heard beneath the din of the Saturday-night TV show playing in Guzman's cell as it was breached.

FILE - In this photo provided by Mexico's attorney general, authorities inspect the exit of the tunnel they claim was used by drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to break out of the Altiplano maximum security prison in Almoloya, west of Mexico City, July 12, 201

FILE - In this photo provided by Mexico's attorney general, authorities inspect the exit of the tunnel they claim was used by drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to break out of the Altiplano maximum security prison in Almoloya, west of Mexico City, July 12, 201

Media reports had previously said the noise of the jailbreak could be heard, but no audio had been broadcast until now. It was not clear why the government had not done so.

Lawmakers' requests rejected

Senator from Mexico's leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, Alejandro Encinas, slammed the release after lawmakers' requests for the security footage had been rejected.

"This video shown by Televisa is indicative of a profound contempt that the executive power has for legislative power. It got to a commercial television broadcaster, a video that was requested by the National Bicameral Security Commission and which has been rejected from the beginning," said Encinas.

Televisa also showed concurrent footage of what it said was the control center meant to be monitoring the prisoners in the Altiplano penitentiary not far from Mexico City.

Several people were shown watching their screens but apparently failing to notice or ignoring what was happening in Guzman's cell. However, it was not possible to see what was showing on the screens of the staff in the control room.

FILE - This photo provided by Mexico's attorney general, shows the most recent image of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman before he escaped from the Altiplano maximum security prison in Almoloya, west of Mexico City, July 12, 2015.

FILE - This photo provided by Mexico's attorney general, shows the most recent image of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman before he escaped from the Altiplano maximum security prison in Almoloya, west of Mexico City, July 12, 2015.

Encinas accused those guards and officials inside the prison of collaborating with the kingpin.

'Collaborated'

"It's obvious that absolutely everyone, all of the workers and the officials there at that moment in the prison collaborated (in the jailbreak) and are responsible," he added.

The government has so far arrested 34 people over the jailbreak, including a man suspected of being a pilot who flew Guzman away from the site after his escape.

The CCTV footage on Televisa showed that guards took more than 20 minutes to check his cell after he broke out, and waited a few more before entering and checking the escape hole.

Meanwhile, the hunt for Guzman may get a little harder this Halloween with a Mexican company capitalising on the druglord's brazen escape by releasing a costume with mask in time for the scary season.

Grupo Rev in the Mexican city of Cuernavaca has begun producing masks in Guzman's likeness.

With the company exporting to some 30 countries globally, the kingpin's costume complete with prison costume is set to be a hot seller.

Company head Diego Esponda told Reuters that the company has long been making fun of political figures, both within Mexico and beyond.

'Criticism of the government'

"It's a criticism of the government, we'd had masks of (former President Carlos) Salinas Gortari, then a mask for (former President Vicente) Fox also, (former President Ernesto) Zedillo, (former President Felipe) Calderon, everyone. In his time, we had Osama Bin Laden. ...

"And so for 'Chapo,' it's a joke about the government. We had him, he got away and we're also laughing at our reality," Esponda said.

Guzman escaped from Mexico's most-secure prison via a mile-long tunnel from his cell in July.

FILE - Federal Police officer stands in the tunnel where according to authorities drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman made his escape from the Altiplano maximum security prison in Almoloya, west of Mexico City, July 16, 2015.

Mask designer Hector Bustos said the mold for the design was carefully chosen.

"The last photos released of him was of a shaved head and without moustache and we started to do it like that. But we saw there was the problem in that he has a particular face and it takes a lot of work to identify him. So we based it on the first photos taken of him, because it's the more identifiable profile of him," Bustos said.

Guzman is the head of Mexico's notorious Sinaloa Cartel, thought to be responsible for countless numbers of homicide during the country's brutal drugs war and for smuggling tonnes of illicit drugs north to the United States.

"El Chapo's" Halloween costume retails for 600 Mexican pesos, or $36.

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