More on the escape of 'El Chapo':
Last Saturday, the 5'5" Mexican drug lord known as "El Chapo" slipped into a tunnel and embarrassed the hell out of President Enrique Peña Nieto. Joaquín Guzmán Loera broken out of prison before, in 2001, and the Mexican leader had publicly sworn that the most feared drug lord since Pablo Escobar would never see the light of day again.
Adding insult to injury, Loera's method of escape seemed to be straight out of Inspector Gadget or Wacky Races. Not only was the tunnel he followed to freedom both ventilated and lit—there was reportedly a motorbike inside that may have eliminated the need for the notorious criminal to even walk. (Other accounts suggest the motorcycle—which was housed on some kind of rail system—was used by El Chapo's minions to haul soil out as the tunnel was constructed, and that he simply strolled out on foot.)
Further illustrating the ridiculousness is a new video just released by the Mexican government last night. It shows the exact moment that El Chapo took the plunge, as well as what the inside of the tunnel looks like.
Even by the standards of a guy who's known for smuggling drugs underground, this one is pretty jaw-dropping just from an engineering perspective. And while we know now what the finished product looks like via the video, we're still waiting to find out the most interesting part of the whole vanishing act: how El Chapo essentially commissioned a huge public works project without anyone noticing.
"In previous tunnels designed for the Sinaloa cartel, pulley systems were used to remove dirt and transport the merchandise," Malcolm Beith, the author of The Last Narco: The Hunt for El Chapo, the World's Most Wanted Drug Lord, told me.
"I can imagine this was the same system used in this case. Another theory I have—and it's just a theory—is that Chapo's people may have taken advantage of undergoing construction in the immediate vicinity of the prison to build the tunnels. Effectively, a smokescreen."
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