MEXICO CITY.- Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, considered the most powerful drug lord in the world, was captured early Saturday morning in a joint operation by U.S. and Mexican authorities in Mazatlan Mexico, both governments have confirmed, after more than 13 years as a fugitive, having been first jailed from 1993 until his escape from prison in 2001.
After first being reported by the AP, other media outlets began to ask sources for confirmation, with the Mexican federal government finally acknowledging the arrest a little around 2:00 p.m. local time in Mexico City. Guzman, 56, was shown quickly to the media on his way to boarding a helicopter and in the custody of Mexican marines, the once elusive figure is now reportedly being held at the Altiplano maximum security prison, surrounded by a large contingency of military and justice officials.
VIDEO: Report in Spanish of Chapo Guzman's arrest and moment presented to media
Mexico's attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, gave a quick press conference and overview of the situation following "El Chapo's" arrest, revealing that both DEA officials from the U.S. and Mexican security forces have been following Guzman for several weeks now, waiting for an opportunity that would've allowed them to both apprehend him and avoid civilian causalities if possible. They have literally been following, as they found out that he moved around the city through an elaborate network of tunnels linking several houses.
At 6:40 a.m. Mexico City time, the joint operation raided a hotel in Mazatlan where he was staying and captured both him and another man, now identified as Carlos Manuel Hoo Ramírez, currently being interrogated by the Mexican Attorney General's office, or PGR in Spanish. They confiscated 97 large arms, 36 handguns, two grenade launchers and a rocket launcher.
U.S. Attorney General Erick Holder praised the capture, saying that it was a "landmark achievement, and a victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States. Guzman was one of the world's most wanted men and the alleged head of a drug-running empire that spans continents".
He added that "the criminal activity Guzman allegedly directed contributed to the death and destruction of millions of lives across the globe through drug addiction, violence, and corruption."
For several weeks and even months now, news reports did indeed point towards some intense pressure being put on Guzman's operations. Just last week, his chief personal bodyguard and main drug distributor were both arrested in Sinaloa and Tijuana respectively, signaling that authorities were close to the boss himself. CNN reports that law enforcement sources are saying that those operations resulted in information like cell phone data, intelligence on the whereabouts of Guzman, and more.
Guzman has been included in Forbes' World's Most Powerful People list since 2009. Forbes estimated his fortune at more than $1 billion.
Guzman is wanted in the U.S. for corruption, drug production and distribution charges by the Department of Justice, and no doubt that the issue of extraditing him from Mexico to face his charges up north, will be a contentious one in the coming months.