Three Mexican prison employees are facing charges for allegedly helped the drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to escape from a maximum-security facility. A federal judge in Mexico said it has opened a court proceeding against the workers, the Associated Press reported Friday.
The Federal Judiciary Council said prosecutors showed they had sufficient evidence that the individuals aided Guzman in his escape through a one-mile tunnel. Officials said that, for now, they found no cause to hold for prosecution four other prison workers who were detained in connection with the July 11 jailbreak, according to a statement cited by the AP.
Guzman’s escape was the second for the drug lord in 15 years. The Sinaloa cartel leader broke out of another prison in January 2001, possibly by hiding in a laundry cart. Guzman had been on the lam until authorities picked him up in February 2014.
The judicial council described the three prison workers as the person in charge of the facility’s video surveillance control center and two guards, the AP said.
Guzman’s escape after 17 months in custody is a critical setback for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has so far failed to stem the drug-related violence affecting parts of Mexico. The Mexican government is offering a $3.8 million reward to capture the cartel kingpin and has launched a massive manhunt.
Mexican authorities said they now believe Guzman was aided in his escape by a top security official, who went on to become a trusted member of his Sinaloa cartel. Investigators suspect the official, Damaso Lopez, may have provided Guzman with blueprints needed to build the escape tunnel, which started in his prison bathroom and ran more than 30 feet underground, the New York Times reported Friday.
According to the Times, the blueprints likely belonged to the first prison from which Guzman escaped. The second facility near Mexico City is a virtual replica of the other lockup in the state of Jalisco. Satellite images of the two prisons show nearly identical layouts, and a senior Mexican law enforcement officials confirmed to the Times that the design was the same for both facilities.