Imagine a mighty drug lord confined in the toughest maximum-security prison. One night he escapes through a hole in the shower. This hole leads to a 1500-metre tunnel that ends in a construction site in a nearby neighbourhood.
The tunnel has been equipped by expert mining engineers with lighting and ventilation. Its construction required 3250 tonnes of earth to be removed in sight of the guards in the prison’s towers.
It seems like the plot of a blockbuster thriller. Unfortunately, it is an account of Joaquín Guzmán Loera’s jailbreak from the Altiplano prison near Mexico City. Guzmán – known as “El Chapo” (Shorty) – is head of the Sinaloa Cartel, the most powerful global drug-trafficking syndicate.
Forbes magazine rated “El Chapo” the 67th-most-powerful man in the world in 2013. His escape necessarily implies an inside job at some level. The jailbreak hence seemingly confirms American narratives that represent Mexico as a corrupt, sluggish and failing state.