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El Chapo Could Soon Be Back in the Same Cell He Escaped From Last Time

Mexico's interior minister says the drug lord has not yet been returned to the cell because the tunnel he fled through, that began in his shower stall, has not yet been completely blocked up.
AP file photo

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán woke up this morning for the fifth time since his recapture last Friday in the maximum-security Altiplano prison — the same prison the drug lord escaped from in July 2015. Mexico's interior minister has said he could now soon be returned to the cell from which he fled — once the tunnel that began in his shower stall and took him to six months of freedom has been completely closed.


"(The Prison) is in complete working order, but he still has not returned to cell #20, where he was before, because of the judicial processes still on the go," Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told Radio Fórmula on Wednesday, adding that the tunnel could only be totally blocked once these were finished.

"After that, of course, we can put him in the cell."

Since Guzmán's recapture government officials have repeatedly stressed that the drug lord — who also escaped from another maximum-security jail in 2001— will not be able to organize a third jailbreak.

"Rest assured that El Chapo is under the strictest security measures to prevent his escape," Osorio Chong said.

Mexican government spokesman Eduardo Sánchez had earlier told reporters that Guzmán has a guard outside his door 24/7, and the number of cameras in the area holding him has been quadrupled.

Sánchez also said that he is being constantly moved, without warning.

"He is being moved randomly from cell to cell," Sánchez told Reuters on Tuesday. "Since arriving, he's been in eight different cells."

Armored vehicles and tanks are now also guarding the outside perimeter of the prison, while security forces have set up new checkpoints inside its gates.

In the meantime, Chapo's defense team appears to be gearing up to lodge legal complaints about the drug lord's treatment, perhaps in an effort to argue that violations of due process have occurred.


Juan Pablo Badillo, one of Guzmán's lawyers, said his client was physically very weak and complained he was being exposed to "brutal psychological pressure."

"He is in a different, very cold zone (of the prison) and in complete isolation," Badillo told Reuters on Tuesday.

Another member of the kingpin's legal team, José Luis González Meza, told Radio Fórmula on Wednesday that Guzmán's has been without access to his family or his lawyers for 120 hours, which seemed to contradict the other allegations that he was complaining about mistreatment.

"I don't believe that if they had caught Adolph Hitler, they'd treat him like this," the lawyer said.

Interior Minister Osorio Chong called the accusations "totally false." He said one of Guzmán's lawyers had visited him yesterday at 11:55am and that it could be confirmed by the registration records.

Follow Nathaniel Janowitz on Twitter: @ngjanowitz