Drug Lord 'El Chapo' Has Been Caught, Says Mexican President

The cartel leader was arrested Friday after escaping from a maximum security prison six months ago.

09/01/2016 5:30 AM AEDT | Updated 09/01/2016 9:23 AM AEDT

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced via Twitter on Friday that drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera, also known as "El Chapo," has been detained.

"Mission accomplished: We've got him. I want to inform Mexicans that Joaquin Guzmán Loera has been arrested," Peña Nieto wrote.  

Here's What Happened

Guzmán, the leader of the country's most powerful drug cartel, was captured Friday morning by Mexican troops in the town of Los Mochis in his home state of Sinaloa, according to the Mexican news site Animal Político.

Federal police arrested Guzmán in a hotel, according to Mexican media. The arrest was part of a joint operation with the military that had led to a shootout with suspected Sinoloa cartel members earlier that day, the Mexican magazine Proceso reported.

Five people died during the confrontation, six were arrested and one Marine was injured, according to a statement issued by Mexico’s navy. The statement doesn’t mention the arrest of Guzmán, but several outlets have reported that the event was part of the same operation.

Guzman was arrested in the town of Los Mochis in his home state of Sinaloa

Peña Nieto praised law enforcement in a televised speech Friday afternoon, saying the arrest was a result of months of intelligence-gathering that eventually allowed authorities to penetrate Guzmán's operation. 

“Today, Mexico confirms that its institutions have the necessary capability to confront and overcome those who threaten the safety of Mexican families,” Peña Nieto said.

Why It Matters

Guzmán had been on the run since escaping from the Altiplano maximum security prison on July 11, 2015, through a tunnel in his shower. 

It was the second time the notorious drug lord had escaped from prison. He also broke out of a jail in 2001, where he had been treated with leniency and was reportedly allowed to receive visits from sex workers.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration praised Mexican officials on Friday for recapturing Guzmán, saying the agency was "extremely pleased" with the arrest.

Guzmán's Sinaloa cartel dominates the Mexican drug trafficking network in the U.S., with a presence stretching across the 48 continental states and into Alaska and Hawaii, according to data published last year by the DEA.

Mexican media circulated images of Guzmán wearing a dirty tank top and sitting next to a man identified as Orso Iván Gastelum. 

Here's What's Next

It remains to be seen whether Mexican officials will agree to extradite the notorious cartel leader. U.S. officials had requested his extradition the last time he was arrested, likely in an effort to prevent him from escaping again, but Mexico's then-Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam discarded the idea, saying Guzmán would need to serve out his Mexican sentence before he could be sent to a foreign country.

One month after Guzmán escaped from his Altiplano jail cell, Mexican authorities changed course and agreed to send him to the United States if they arrested him.

But Guzmán's lawyers hope to keep that from happening. In October, they won a provisional exemption from extradition for the cartel leader.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that a Mexican marine was killed. In fact, he was injured. 

This story has been updated with information about Peña Nieto's televised remarks.


Read more: 

- People On The Internet Thought They Had Found El Chapo.. In A Music Video
- El Chapo Had 46 Conjugal Visits Before Escaping Maximum Security Prison
- This Map Shows How Far El Chapo's Power Extends Past Mexico

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