News by VICE

In Photos: The Safe House Where the Navy Caught Up With El Chapo

The drug lord is back in a maximum-security prison after six months on the run. His dramatic recapture began with a shootout in a safe house and ended in a love motel.

by Hans-Maximo Musielik
Jan 12 2016, 8:10pm

Foto via Hans-Maximo Musielik

In the early hours of January 8, 2016, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, found himself under siege from the Mexican navy in an operation that left five dead.

He was holed up in a safe house in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, surrounded by bodyguards when the raid commenced. Guzmán, known for his penchant for tunnels, escaped out of a secret doorway behind a mirror in a ground floor dressing room into the city's drainage system.

El Chapo was caught hours later after resurfacing, hijacking a car, and attempting to flee the city. The drug lord was detained by security forces and taken to a love motel while the officers waited for backup.

(All Photos by Hans-Maximo Musielik unless otherwise stated)

El Chapo Guzmán was hiding at 1002 Jiquilpan boulevard, in the affluent Las Palmas neighborhood of Los Mochis. The mother of the current governor of Sinaloa lives in the same area. There is still blood on the floor inside the house where one of Guzmán's bodyguards was killed.


Food packages and coca cola cans are littered throughout the kitchen. Blankets and sleeping bags lie on the floor.


A wall is riddled with bullets after the intense shootout between the Mexican navy and El Chapo Guzmán's bodyguards. The size of the holes suggests the shootout involved 50 caliber weapons and standard assault rifles. 


A DVD set of the telenovela 'La Reina del Sur' lies neatly ordered on a bed upstairs. The show stars Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, who is reported to have been in talks with El Chapo to film a movie about his life and who brokered an interview with him by Sean Penn. The Mexican authorities have been accused in the past of planting objects at crime scenes.


This mirror, in a ground floor dressing room, hides the route Chapo took to escape the shootout.


A staircase behind the mirror leads to a tunnel connected to the city's storm drains and sewage system. The passage is constructed in a similar way to the one Chapo used to escape another navy operation to capture him in 2014 in the city of Culiacán.


Chapo Guzmán has become famous for his use of tunnels to escape from prison, and to smuggle drugs across the border into the United States.


The Doux, a drive in luxury love motel, is located in an industrial area about four miles from the safe house on the outskirts of Los Mochis. Chapo Guzmán was taken here after his arrest by federal police while they awaited reinforcements. In the hours following his arrest curious citizens stopped outside the motel to take photographs.


Leaked photo of El Chapo sitting handcuffed in a motel in Los Mochis.

Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán sits handcuffed on the edge of a bed in the Doux motel after his detention. His undershirt appears to be still dirty from his traversing of the city's sewage system.

Text and captions by Nathaniel Janowitz.

Follow Nathaniel Janowitz on Twitter: @ngjanowitz

united states
Sean Penn
El Chapo
Kate del Castillo
Joaquin Guzman
Los Mochis
la reina del sur
Federal Police
mexican navy
doux motel
marina armada de mexico