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US announces 'El Chapo' reward

August 6, 2015

US officials believe drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman remains on the run in Mexico. Guzman broke out of a maximum security prison last month, escaping in a tunnel built right under his cell.

Mexiko Suche nach Drogenboss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman
Image: Getty Images/AFP/Y. Cortez

On Wednesday, the US State Department announced a $5 million (4.6-million-euro) reward for information leading to the recapture of drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman of Mexico.

The State Department announced its reward on the same day the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) set up a tip line for information on Guzman, who escaped from one of Mexico's most secure prisons last month via a sophisticated 1-mile (0.6-kilometer) tunnel that opened up into his cell's shower.

"Where is he probably the safest and best-protected?" Chuck Rosenberg, acting head of the DEA, asked rhetorically in a briefing with reporters. He went on to say that Guzman was "probably" in Sinaloa, Guzman's home state, and where he built up his powerful drug cartel, though he stressed that it was "an educated guess."

Rosenberg said US DEA agents had shared intelligence with their south-of-the-border counterparts but added that "institutional problems" in Mexico made it difficult to gather information.

"We have sources in Mexico we can work closely with," he said. "It doesn't extend throughout the entire government."

'Not terribly surprised'

US authorities want Guzman on a variety of criminal charges, including cocaine smuggling and money laundering. They had made a request for his extradition two weeks before his escape, but Mexican authorities have since suspended that.

Rosenberg said it had "not terribly surprised" him to find out that Guzman had broken out of prison. Guzman previously escaped in 2001, after being extradited from Guatemala in 1993, and authorities only managed to recapture him last year.

Guzman's drug gang has smuggled billions of dollars worth of drugs into the narcotics-hungry United States, where authorities blame him for thousands of deaths through addiction and gang violence. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and US Marshals Service have also gotten involved in the hunt, Rosenberg said.

On Wednesday, the DEA also launched a wanted poster, tip line and the email address chapotips@usdoj.gov for information on Guzman. Mexican authorities have announced a $3.8 million reward for Guzman, who has an estimated net worth of about $1 billion.

Mexican authorities have arrested several prison officials suspected of helping Guzman escape.

mkg/cmk (Reuters, AP)