MEXICO CITY – Mexico's government on Wednesday announced the capture of six people believed responsible for the July prison break by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, including the elusive drug lord's brother-in-law and the suspected mastermind of the escape.
Attorney General Arely Gomez said the alleged mastermind of the operation is a member of Guzman's legal team who had access to the Altiplano prison near Mexico City, and was able to notify the capo of the operation's progress and receive instructions. The person also purportedly relayed orders and payments to others involved in the escape.
Other arrested included Guzman's brother-in-law, believed to have supervised construction of the mile-long (1.5-kilometer) escape tunnel and organized transportation; a person who negotiated the purchase of the plot of land where the tunnel emerged; and an airplane pilot.
Gomez confirmed that after the escape, the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel boss traveled by land to the city of Queretaro where officials say he caught a small plane to a mountainous region of Sinaloa, his home state and stronghold.
Gomez added that two Cessna aircraft left from Queretaro. Authorities recently detained a second pilot in the case.
She did not name any of the suspects or take questions, but said they planned, organized and carried out the jailbreak in cahoots with officials inside the maximum-security lockup.
Authorities recently detained another pilot in connection with the escape. About 23 prison officials and employees have also been arrested; some face criminal charges.
"El Chapo's" July 11 escape through the mile-long (1.5-kilometer) tunnel dug to the shower in his cell was his second brazen flight from prison and made him once-again Mexico's most-wanted fugitive.
In 2001, he slipped out of another maximum-security facility, purportedly hidden in a laundry cart.
Security agents have focused their manhunt on Sinaloa and neighboring Durango state in recent weeks. Officials say Guzman was injured in the leg and face while fleeing the dragnet there.