The San Antonio Express-News has published two photos of legendary Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman purportedly taken after his spectacular prison escape Saturday evening. One photo appears to show Guzman sitting in the cockpit of an airplane; the other shows him holding a beer. The photos were reportedly sent to ElBlogDelNarco by one of El Chapo’s sons.
The legitimacy of the photos hasn’t been confirmed yet, and at least one former U.S. law enforcement agent is skeptical about their authenticity.
“I don’t think (his son) would leak those photos because that could be used to try and apprehend Chapo, and that would be circumventing his planned escape,” Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations for the DEA, told the Express-News.
However, Ivan Guzman, one of El Chapo’s sons, apparently hinted about the escape on Twitter days before it took place, so it’s possible that he or another member of the Guzman family would publicize the photos.
El Chapo escaped Saturday night from Altiplano maximum-security prison through a mile-long tunnel that led to the shower in his cell. The tunnel was “equipped with ventilation, lighting, oxygen tanks, scaffolding and a motorcycle contraption for removing the tons of dirt being excavated,” according to the Los Angeles Times, and connected to an under-construction house within view of the prison.
An extensive manhunt is underway throughout Mexico. The closest airport, at Toluca, has suspended all flights, and soldiers have been stationed at Mexico City’s international airport, located about 50 miles from the prison. Dozens of prison employees have been interrogated about the escape, which authorities claim could not have happened without inside help.
This is the second time Guzman has escaped from a maximum-security jail; in 2001, he fled Puente Grande while hiding in a laundry cart. He spent the next 14 years growing his Sinaloa Cartel into a multi-billion dollar organization (Forbes once put his personal worth at more than $1 billion) before he was captured in February 2014.