Mexican police arrest drug baron Joaquin ′Shorty′ Guzman | News | DW | 22.02.2014
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Mexican police arrest drug baron Joaquin 'Shorty' Guzman

Police have arrested Mexican drugs overlord Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, considered the world’s most powerful narcotics kingpin. He had been on the run for the past 11 years, after an audacious prison escape.

Mexican marines swooped on Saturday, capturing Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman apparently without a shot being fired, sources said.

An anonymous US government source said the capture took place in the seaside resort of Mazatlan, in Guzman's northwestern home state of Sinaloa. The source said Mexican forces had been acting on a tip-off from the US Drug Enforcement Administration and the US Department of Homeland Security.

"We've been actively tracking him for five weeks. Because of that pressure, he fled in the last couple of days to Mazatlan," the official told the AFP news agency.

In Mexico City, presidential spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said merely that officials had "captured an individual in Sinaloa (state)" without confirming the identity.

Guzman was reportedly found with an unidentified woman. As the net around him closed, he had reportedly fled to Mazatlan from a house - fitted with escape tunnels - in Culiacan, Sinaloa's largest city.

'Public Enemy Number One'

Officials in the US had offered a $5-million (3.6-million-euro) reward for information leading to Guzman's arrest. The capture of Guzman represents a significant blow to the Sinaloa cartel, which is deemed Mexico's biggest drugs empire. It is also a major coup for President Enrique Pena Nieto, who came to power 14 months ago.

Mexican authorities have made several high profile arrests in recent years, including Angel Trevino Morales, leader of the brutal Zetas cartel.

Guzman, considered by US authorities to be "the most powerful drug trafficker in the world," was on the run for years. He was captured in Guatemala in 1993, but escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001, hiding in a laundry basket.

He was named "Public Enemy Number One" by the Chicago Crime Commission, the only criminal other than notorious gangster Al Capone to be granted the dubious moniker. The chief reason was said to be his ability to sneak vast quantities of cocaine, heroin and marijuana into the US.

The diminutive Guzman was also on Forbes magazine's list of billionaires until 2013, when the publication said it could not verify his wealth. Guzman was reported to be spending an increasing amount of money on protection. However, he remained ranked by Forbes as one of the most powerful people in the world.

rc/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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