Mexico City, Jul 15 – Mexico’s government released a video showing fugitive drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman going into his prison cell’s shower and bending down behind a short dividing wall before disappearing.
While Guzman paced back and forth several times between the bathroom area and his bed before vanishing, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said it was common behavior for prison inmates.
The small hole on the shower floor that Guzman, 58, slipped into for his daring escape late Saturday is not seen in the footage.
While a surveillance camera was on a corner outside the cell and another inside pointing toward the shower, authorities said they had two blind spots to protect the inmate’s privacy.
Rubido said Guzman was last seen at 8:52 pm, without indicating how long it took for prison guards to sound the alarm.
Guzman’s second escape from a maximum-security prison in 14 years is a huge embarrassment to President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration, which had celebrated the capture of the world’s most wanted drug baron just 17 months ago.
– ‘Natural behavior’ –
While a massive manhunt for Guzman entered its third full day, prosecutors formally detained 22 officials from the Altiplano prison outside Mexico City amid suspicions of an inside job. Twelve others held since Sunday were released.
The video shows the diminutive Guzman — his nickname means “Shorty — apparently urinating before walking toward his small bed.
He goes back toward the shower, returns to the bed, and back to the bathroom, bending down a first time behind the wall.
Guzman then sits on his bed and changes footwear before heading back to the shower for the last time and bending down. A towel on the dividing wall falls behind it.
“It’s a natural behavior for prisoners in a confined space for a prolonged time,” Rubido told a news conference.
The government also showed a video of the 1.5-kilometer (one-mile) escape tunnel, which had a motorcycle with a metal cart in front and a special rail system for it to ride on.
The tunnel’s lights were blown out by the fugitive as he fled and exited at the other end up a ladder into a building on a property surrounded by fields.
The moment guards noticed that Guzman was gone, the guards issued a red alert via radio and the prison was placed on lockdown, Rubido said.
But prosecutors are investigating whether protocols were properly followed, he said.
Some 700 federal forces were deployed to the nearby highway, suspended flights at the nearby Toluca airport and issued alerts to other airports.
Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said that Guzman “must have” had help from prison officials in his brazen escape.
Authorities have 96 hours to either charge or release the 22 prison officials who were placed in custody on Tuesday.