7 officials charged with aiding escape of 'El Chapo'

The Mexican government announced that seven officials have been charged in aiding and abetting the escape of cartel leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.  The Mexican AG's office would not name the officials charged, but how surprised would you be if they didn't include any higher-ups?  The director of the prison where El Chapo escaped has been fired, but no word if he was involved in the escape plot.

Reuters:

Guzman's escape last Saturday from a maximum security prison through a mile-long tunnel built into his cell was a profound embarrassment for President Enrique Peña Nieto, raising pressure on the government to do more to battle public sector corruption.

As the tunnel surfaced in a blind spot in the cell behind a shower wall, government officials said it could only have occurred with the collusion of prison guards and officials, and that Guzman's helpers must have seen the building's plans.

The government dismissed the head of the prison and questioned more than 30 prison officials over the escape. It did not name the seven people who were arrested and a government spokesman could not immediately clarify the matter.

Peña Nieto, returning from a visit to France, on Friday acknowledged the escape had caused widespread frustration and that the only way to undo the damage was to recapture Guzman.

Separately, the government said the United States had requested the extradition of Guzman about two weeks before the breakout took place.

That news hinted at a U-turn by the government, because the previous attorney general, Jesus Murillo had said in January the country had no plans to hand him over.

Still, opposition Senator Juan Carlos Romero Hicks said if Mexico did recapture Guzman, extraditing him would be tantamount to admitting it was incapable of keeping him locked up.

"National sovereignty and national pride are so important ... that I doubt the government will do it," he said.

A mile-long tunnel?  And don't forget the motorcycle waiting for Guzmán when he made his escape.

These are not the ill-planned or random actions of an incarcerated criminal.  Obviously, the tunnel took weeks to construct, and authorities in the prison and probably the prison system had to turn a blind eye to construction.  Are we to believe no one heard the sounds of a tunnel being dug?  Sheesh.

If you want to know why the Mexican government can't make any headway against the cartels, it's because so much the law enforcement system has been corrupted by billions in cash.  And if you're not on the take, your life isn't worth very much.  Unless the Mexican government stops thinking about "national pride," it will continue to struggle.  It may be political poison to ask the U.S. for the kind of assistance we gave Colombia back in the 1980s when their cartels threatened civil society, but that's what it will probably take. 

The Mexican government announced that seven officials have been charged in aiding and abetting the escape of cartel leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.  The Mexican AG's office would not name the officials charged, but how surprised would you be if they didn't include any higher-ups?  The director of the prison where El Chapo escaped has been fired, but no word if he was involved in the escape plot.

Reuters:

Guzman's escape last Saturday from a maximum security prison through a mile-long tunnel built into his cell was a profound embarrassment for President Enrique Peña Nieto, raising pressure on the government to do more to battle public sector corruption.

As the tunnel surfaced in a blind spot in the cell behind a shower wall, government officials said it could only have occurred with the collusion of prison guards and officials, and that Guzman's helpers must have seen the building's plans.

The government dismissed the head of the prison and questioned more than 30 prison officials over the escape. It did not name the seven people who were arrested and a government spokesman could not immediately clarify the matter.

Peña Nieto, returning from a visit to France, on Friday acknowledged the escape had caused widespread frustration and that the only way to undo the damage was to recapture Guzman.

Separately, the government said the United States had requested the extradition of Guzman about two weeks before the breakout took place.

That news hinted at a U-turn by the government, because the previous attorney general, Jesus Murillo had said in January the country had no plans to hand him over.

Still, opposition Senator Juan Carlos Romero Hicks said if Mexico did recapture Guzman, extraditing him would be tantamount to admitting it was incapable of keeping him locked up.

"National sovereignty and national pride are so important ... that I doubt the government will do it," he said.

A mile-long tunnel?  And don't forget the motorcycle waiting for Guzmán when he made his escape.

These are not the ill-planned or random actions of an incarcerated criminal.  Obviously, the tunnel took weeks to construct, and authorities in the prison and probably the prison system had to turn a blind eye to construction.  Are we to believe no one heard the sounds of a tunnel being dug?  Sheesh.

If you want to know why the Mexican government can't make any headway against the cartels, it's because so much the law enforcement system has been corrupted by billions in cash.  And if you're not on the take, your life isn't worth very much.  Unless the Mexican government stops thinking about "national pride," it will continue to struggle.  It may be political poison to ask the U.S. for the kind of assistance we gave Colombia back in the 1980s when their cartels threatened civil society, but that's what it will probably take.