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Mexico's national prisons director and the head of the supermax prison that drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman tunneled his way out of have been fired and a $3.8 million reward has been offered for his re-arrest, top Mexican officials said Monday night, charging that official authorities had to have been involved.
Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said at a news conference in Mexico City that Guzman, the notorious "El Chapo" who headed the deadly Sinaloa drug cartel, had to have had inside help for his escape Saturday night from Altiplano prison west of Mexico City. Investigators found a mile-long, ventilated tunnel big enough for Guzman to have vroomed through it on a motorbike.
Osorio Chong announced that three prison officials — including the prison's director, Valentin Cardenas Lerma, and his boss, the head of Mexico's prison system — had been dismissed and promised: "There will be no rest for this criminal."
Saying involvement by prison or state officials was "an act of treason," Osorio Chong said 34 prison staff members were under questioning. He joined Attorney General Arely Gomez in offering a 60 million-peso reward for information leading to Guzman's capture — or about $3.8 million.
Osorio Chong also denied a report by The Associated Press that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had alerted Mexican authorities about Guzman's plans 16 months ago.
The AP cited internal DEA documents indicating that as early as March 2014, U.S. drug agents had received information that various relatives and associates were considering "potential operations to free Guzman."
A U.S. official briefed on the investigation insisted to the AP on condition of anonymity that Mexican authorities were, indeed, alerted about the plots.