Seven months after notorious drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman broke out of a maximum security prison through an elaborate tunnel seven months ago, it was announced today by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that he has been recaptured. The Mexican Navy said in a statement that marines, acting on a tip, raided a home before dawn in the city of Los Mochis, in Guzman’s home state of Sinaloa. The assault team was fired upon from inside the structure. Five suspects were killed and six others arrested. One marine was wounded, but did not sustain life-threatening injuries.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said it was “extremely pleased” at the news. “We congratulate the MX Government and salute the bravery involved in his capture,” the DEA said on Twitter. The Mexican Navy did not mention Guzman by name, only referring to “alleged members of organized crime. It did note, however, that the assault team discovered on the premises Orso Ivan Gastelum Cruz, the presumed boss of the north zone of Sinaloa for the Sinaloa drug Cartel, but said he escaped during the operation. Following Guzman’s escape in July, Peña Nieto and federal officials were criticized for not extraditing him to the United States, in spite of shortcomings in the Mexican prison system.
The diminutive Guzman, whose nickname means “Shorty,” wielded so much power as head of the Sinaloa drug cartel that the Chicago Crime Commission called him Public Enemy No. 1, a label applied to gangster Al Capone in 1930. Peña Nieto’s publicity had plunged over the past 18 months, with corruption scandals and perceived incompetence on security matters pulling down his approval rating to levels not seen in 20 years. Proponents were quick to pounce on the news as proof that the president was serious about security. Analysts say the capture gives the president a chance to regain some credibility after taking a political hit.