Updated 05:03 AM EDT, Tue, Apr 20, 2021

Mexico Drug Lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman Prison Break: 'We May Never Find Him Again'

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An all-out manhunt is on-going for Mexican drug lord, Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, after his escape from the Altiplano Federal Prison through a 1.5-kilometer (1 mile) tunnel originating from a small opening in his cell block's shower area.

According to National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido, Guzman "climbed down a hole 10 meters (30 feet) deep that connected with a tunnel about 1.7 meters (5 feet-6 inches) high that was fully ventilated and had lighting," Yahoo! News reported from The Associated Press. The escape route was allegedly built without the authorities' knowledge.

Upon inspection, officials discovered tools, oxygen tanks, and a motorcycle made to run on rails, which is believed to bring out dirt and tools used during construction. The tunnel ended "in a half-built barn-like building in a farm field, according to radio transmissions among authorities, who cordoned off the structure that sits atop a small rise with a clear view of the prison," the news outlet added.

"This represents without a doubt an affront to the Mexican state," President Enrique Pena Nieto said while on a formerly scheduled state visit to France, Yahoo! News quoted. "But I also have confidence in the institutions of the Mexican state . . . that they have the strength and determination to recapture this criminal."

CNN reported that at 8:52 PM on Saturday, Guzman was seen via surveillance cameras entering a shower area. When he was not spotted again for some time, police officials checked his cell block and found him missing.

Aside from the widespread manhunt, officials also closed Toluca International Airport, CNN added. Thirty employees from various parts of the Altiplano maximum security prison were also taken in by officials for questioning, Yahoo! News noted.

If Guzman is not returned to imprisonment, he will likely rise and control the Sinaloa Cartel in 48 hours, said Michael S. Vigil, a retired U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration chief of international operations. Vigil said that Guzman may never be found again and that the honors Mexico's government received for their efforts against drugs will vanish because of the fugitive's escape, Yahoo! News added.

Guzman's drug empire is labeled as one of the most powerful and deadly cartel operations throughout North America, and even reaching as far as Europe and Australia, the news outlet noted. In the U.S., he is wanted for charges of organizing crimes and multiple federal drug trafficking.

Back in 2001, Guzman escaped from a maximum security prison through a laundry cart and was not caught again until February 2014, when he was arrested at a Mexican beach resort, CNN wrote. He was first apprehended by authorities in Guatemala in 1993, Yahoo! News reported.

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