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El Chapo's Tunnel drug smuggling system

  • Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán is one of the most feared drug lords of the past 100 years.

  • El Chapo is estimated to have a net worth of $14 billion.

  • Known for his intelligent engineered tunnel system he goes by the name of "The Prince of Tunnels".

  • Guzmán escaped from authorities twice, on January 2001 and on July 2015.

  • On July 17, 2019, he was sentenced to "life plus 30 years" in prison and within days, had started to serve his term at the Federal Correctional Complex, Florence, Colorado.

Prison Capture

On the 9th of June, 1993, El Chapo was arrested in Guatemala after a massive manhunt to catch him and other drug traffic associates of him.

Following his arrest, on the 22nd of November 1995, he was transferred to the maximum-security prison located in State of Mexico known as ''La Palma''.

El Chapo was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Guzmán enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle, he had most of the people working in the prison under his payroll, ordered the meals he wanted from a menu, continued his illicit activities through cellphone, enjoyed sporadic visits from prostitutes, among other benefits.

Prison Break

On 19 January 2001, his electronically secured cell was opened and Guzmán was reportedly escorted by a prison guard outside of Puente Grande while hidden in a laundry cart. The security cameras of the prison were disabled on his way out, and Guzmán became a free man.

On 11 July 2015, however, Guzmán escaped from prison again through a tunnel inside his prison cell but was caught six months after his escape and extradited to the U.S.

Agents inspect a tunnel in 2010 in Tijuana, Mexico, believed to have been built by the Sinaloa Cartel. AFP/Getty Images


The El Chapo tunnelling system was crucial for the narcotrafficking of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Fluorescent lights hung from a ceiling-mounted PVC pipe, which also brought fresh air into the passageway. Metal tracks had been bolted to the ground, allowing an ad-hoc vehicle—a railcar rigged to the frame of a small motorcycle to be driven from one end of the tunnel to the other.

The grey stone walls, about thirty inches ( 0.76 m) apart, were scored with jagged marks made by electric spades; Guzmán’s shoulders probably brushed the walls as he passed.


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