Sinaloa cartel drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s July 11 escape from prison has become another huge political problem for the government. Authorities discovered a 1.5 kilomter-long long tunnel about ten meters below the high-security Altiplano Federal Prison (near Mexico City) where he was being held. The tunnel stopped directly below a shower stall in his prison hall. Digging the tunnel produced an estimated 380 dump truck loads of dirt and required special equipment. The tunnel even had space for a small motorcycle to help remove debris. All of this feeds public suspicion that someone at the prison had to know about the tunnel and more likely, someone very high up in the government. Media echo public accusations that Guzman’s billions bought off high government officials. In other words, Guzman leveraged systemic corruption. Guzman’s escape has stirred more accusations regarding president Pena’s financial dealings with government contractors. Mexican prisons just can’t hold Guzman, which is one reason after his capture in February 2014 the U.S. wanted to extradite him. Guzman had earlier (2001) broke out of prison in Jalisco state. That prison break involved bribery. For latest escape prison staff are under investigation, but vocal critics think senior government officials should be investigated as well. After El Chapo’s escape, security forces continue to search for him. The search has moved from the immediate vicinity of the prison to surrounding states and western states like Sinaloa and Durango. (Austin Bay)
July 21, 2015: The government continues to investigate incidents where soldiers involved in Cartel War operations may have committed crimes against civilians. An example of this is the July 7 disappearance of seven people from the town of Calera (Zacatecas state) and accusations that soldiers were responsible.
At the Caracas international airport Venezuelan security personnel arrested two former Venezuelan Army officers on charges of drug smuggling. Those arrested are accused of working with Mexican and Colombian drug cartels and assisting in cocaine smuggling operations. Authorities said the two suspects used their military connections to facilitate drug trafficking operations.
July 19, 2015: U.S. law enforcement agencies are concerned that cartels are using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, also known as drones) for surveillance operations. Though no specific incidents have been cited, security officers suspect a UAV would help smugglers recon a smuggling corridor or provide warning of a raid by security forces on a cartel safe house or training site.
July 18, 2015: The army wants to buy 105 new light armored reconnaissance vehicles. The 6x6 Panhard Defense ERC 90 Lynx is the most likely candidate to replace older equipment in some of the nine Armored Reconnaissance Regiments (RBRs). Four are regarded as front-line units: the 1st RBR and 2nd RBR (based in Temamantla, Mexico State); the 3rd RBR (Cuernavaca, Morelos state); and the 4th RBR (Queretaro, Morelos state).
July 15, 2015: Marines raided a site near Matzatlan (state) and this appears linked to the effort to recapture escaped cartel commander Joaquin Guzman.
July 14, 2015: American security officials met with the attorney general’s office in Mexico City to discuss Joaquin Guzman’s escape. American FBI and DEA officers were included in these talks. Mexican officials said that it held the meeting to help coordinate efforts to arrest Guzman with U.S. agencies. The government confirmed that other neighboring countries are involved in the operation to recapture Guzman.
July 13, 2015: National media are outraged at the government’s failure to keep Chapo Guzman in prison. Much of the criticism focuses on the lack of integrity in judicial institutions and security organizations. Several sources indicate that government officials are worried that Guzman’s escape could damage U.S.-Mexico relations because it demonstrates the untrustworthiness of Mexican security institutions.
July 12, 2015: Sinaloa cartel drug lord Joaquin Guzman escaped from his cell in the Altiplano prison during the night of July 11. He was last seen taking a shower. He escaped through an amazingly sophisticated tunnel which had a ventilation system and stairs. A ten meter deep hole from his cellblock connected to the tunnel. The government said 18 prison guards are being questioned. Guzman was considered to be the most important prisoner in Mexico. The government touted his capture in 2014 as evidence of progress in the Cartel War.
July 9, 2015: Mexico intends to use fracking processes to extract oil and natural gas. The government is concerned about water requirements. Many places in northern and western Mexico are very dry. The state oil company, PEMEX, is very interested in what are called dry fracking technologies. Drillers have used nitrogen and CO2 to reduce water requirements but PEMEX wants to focus on new methods where CO2 completely replaces water.
July 8, 2015: The Navy provided more information on the July 5 incident where a navy Blackhawk helicopter received ground fire while it was patrolling about 32 kilometers south of Nuevo Laredo (Tamaulipas state) in a ranching area called El Cuatro. This is where the Los Zetas cartel frequently operates, Marines aboard the helicopter noticed a convoy of vehicles carrying armed men. Several gunmen opened fire on the helicopter, which returned fire. Six cartel gunmen were killed. Los Zetas and the Jalisco New Generation have been fighting a turf war in Tamaulipas. Nuevo Laredo is across the border form Laredo, Texas. Laredo is the southern terminus of Interstate 35, the so-called NAFTA interstate. It is a major trade and smuggling route.