Mexican authorities captured the world’s most-powerful drug lord in a resort city Saturday after a massive search through the home state of the legendary capo whose global organization is the leading supplier of cocaine to the United States.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, 56, looked pudgy, bowed and much like his wanted photos when he arrived in Mexico City from Mazatlan in Sinaloa state. He was marched by masked marines across the airport tarmac to a helicopter waiting to whisk him to jail.
Guzman was arrested by the Mexican marines at 6:40 a.m. in a high-rise condominium fronting the Pacific. He was caught with an unidentified woman, said one official not authorized to be quoted by name, who added that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Marshals Service were “heavily involved” in the capture.
A federal law-enforcement official said intelligence from a Homeland Security Department investigation also helped lead U.S. and Mexican authorities to his whereabouts.
The official was authorized to discuss details of the arrest by name. No shots were fired.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the capture a “victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States.”
Mexican authorities, based on a series of arrests in recent months, got wind that Guzman was moving around Culiacan, capital of his home state for which the cartel is named.
Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam described an operation that took place between Feb. 13 and 17 focused on seven homes connected by tunnels and to the city’s sewer system.
He said they had Guzman in their sights several times during that period but were unable to mount an operation earlier because of possible risks to the general public.
The house doors were reinforced with steel, which delayed entry by law enforcement, presumably allowing Guzman to flee several attempts at his capture before Saturday.