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United States offers to help Mexico hunt for 'El Chapo'

The US has pledged to help Mexico recapture twice-escaped drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Mexico's most celebrated narco escaped through a 1.5-kilometer tunnel starting in the shower area of his prison cell.

US officials told Mexico that they wanted Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, 58, recaptured after he

sneaked out of his shower

and into a 1-mile tunnel (pictured) from the Alitplano high-security prison, about 90 kilometers west of Mexico City.

As the current US administration pledged its support - and demanded results - leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attempted to make political hay of the escape of a man who made untold billions of dollars satisfying the American appetite for huge quantities of high-quality narcotics.

In a series of tweets, Trump wrote that "Mexico's totally corrupt gov't looks horrible with El Chapo's escape - totally corrupt." He added:

"Shorty" Guzman,

who is facing charges on both sides of the border,

became the subject of folk ballads while running the Sinaloa cartel, evading capture, smuggling cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine into the US, and battling rival gangs in Mexico. In 2009, Forbes magazine listed him as a billionaire. He had just returned to prison in early 2014 after a previous escape 14 years ago, in which he rolled out of prison in a laundry cart.

Long bloody war

Under President Enrique Pena Nieto's rule,

authorities have arrested several kingpins

- including Guzman - since 2012. The regime has also reaped plenty of criticism for engaging

in a bloody drug war

that has left tens of thousands dead. The president was elected on a pledge to bring order to a country struggling with years of gang violence, but at this rate he is outpacing former President Felipe Calderon, whose six years in office saw more than 83,000 people die in the drug war.

"This represents without a doubt an affront to the Mexican state," Pena Nieto said Monday of the jailbreak, while on a trip to France, .

Pena Nieto has deployed more troops to hunt down Guzman. Prosecutors have questioned 30 prison employees of various ranks, including the warden, the attorney general's office announced, signaling suspicions that an inside job may have contributed to the well-outfitted tunnel leading from the most-wanted prisoner's shower in the high-security federal prison. Those interrogated included the guards in charge of the capo's cell and those who monitored the surveillance cameras that look into the room.

mkg/tj (EFE, Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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