After the escape earlier this month by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman from a maximum-security prison in Mexico through a mile-long tunnel, Mexican authorities detained at least 18 prison employees and officials on suspicion of aiding the drug lord's daring jailbreak. Now, a federal judge has opened a court proceeding against three of those employees, authorities said Friday.
Mexico's Federal Judiciary Council said in a statement that prosecutors showed sufficient evidence that the three employees at the Altiplano prison abetted Guzman's July 11 escape. The employees are reportedly two guards and the person in charge of the prison's video surveillance control center. Mexican authorities previously released surveillance video from Guzman's cell during the escape, which appears to show the Sinaloa Cartel kingpin vanishing after stepping into the camera's blind spot in his shower stall.
The Council said there were inconsistencies in the supervisor's statements, and that there was no explanation as to why the guards did not answer the telephone in their module. The Council also said that — at least for now — there was no cause to hold for prosecution the other individuals detained in connection with the escape.
The logistics involved in the digging of the sophisticated tunnel and a number of irregularities — including the fact that Guzman's absence wasn't reported for at least 18 minutes — have fueled suspicions that prison staff and officials were complicit in the prison break. The government said it has fired the director of the Altiplano prison and two other officials.
An official at the Federal Prosecutor's Office who was not authorized to discuss the matter and insisted on anonymity told the Associated Press that prosecutors were considering their next step, including a possible appeal.
The Mexican government has offered a $3.8 million reward for information that leads to Guzman's capture.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report
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