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Mexican drug kingpin sent back to prison he escaped from

January 9, 2016

Notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has been captured in a deadly military raid and returned to the same maximum-security prison he escaped from more than five months ago.

Mexiko Festnahme Drogenboss Joaquin Guzman Loera - El Chapo
Image: Reuters/E. Garrido

Wearing a blue tracksuit, the world's most wanted drug kingpin was frogmarched by military officials to a helicopter at Mexico City's international airport, not before the marines turned his expressionless face toward the waiting media for a clear view.

"El Chapo," head of the Sinaloa Cartel, was apprehended in the coastal city of Los Mochis, in his home state of Sinaloa, in the northwest of the country, following a military raid that left five gang suspects dead on Friday morning.

"Guzman Loera will be taken again to the Altiplano prison," 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of Mexico City, Attorney General Arely Gomez told waiting reporters before the drug lord was placed on the helicopter with his alleged security chief, who was also arrested Friday.

Extradition to the US

Mexico's leaders are avoiding calls to extradite Guzman to the US where he faces drug-trafficking charges in several states.

Mexiko Festnahme Drogenboss Joaquin Guzman Loera - El Chapo
Guzman has been taken back to the maximum-security prison he escaped fromImage: Reuters/T. Bravo

Following his February 2014 arrest, Mexico's government insisted it was able to handle Guzman, who had already broken out of one maximum-security prison, saying he needed to pay his debt to Mexican society first.

The drug kingpin then escaped a second time on July 11 last year under the noses of guards and prison officers at Mexico's most secure prison, slipping out of a tunnel. The constructed tunnel was so elaborate that it showed the depth of corruption in the country while embarrassing President Enrique Pena Nieto's government.

Mexican officials showed none of the excitement of two years ago following his capture, though they made clear intelligence building and investigation was undertaken entirely by Mexican forces. There was no mention of his extradition.

"They have to extradite him," Alejandro Hope, a security analyst in Mexico said, adding "it's almost a forced move."

Sentiment echoed by US Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican presidential candidate, who demanded Guzman be turned over immediately to US authorities.

"Given that ‘El Chapo" has already escaped from Mexican prisons twice, this third opportunity to bring him to justice cannot be squandered,” Rubio said.

Friday's operation is the result of a six-month investigation and intelligence gathering by Mexican officials.

jlw/ng (AP, AFP)