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Guards Watching 'El Chapo' Played Solitaire as Kingpin Escaped: Report

by F. Brinley Bruton /  / Updated 

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What should you do if your job is to keep watch on the most wanted drug lord in the world?

Not play computer solitaire, for starters.

But that's what the men guarding Sinaloa cartel chief Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman were doing when he escaped from a high-security prison earlier this year, according to a Mexican newspaper.

A pair of security guards had claimed that at 8:48 p.m., four minutes before it is believed Guzman escaped on July 11, their computer monitors froze, according to Mexican newspaper El Universal.

The guards originally claimed they then made more than two dozen calls to alert Almoloya prison's monitoring center — and that when they finally rebooted their equipment, the kingpin had vanished, according to journalist Carlos Loret de Mola.

Now a judge says, citing security video, the screens never froze but were probably turned off — and that guards Carlos Sanches Garcia and Jose Daniel Aureoles Tabares lied in their initial account of that night, according to the paper.

In fact, the two were playing solitaire on their computers amid sounds of hammering and voices coming from the drug kingpin's cell, the newspaper added.

NBC News was not able to confirm El Universal's account of the video. The article goes on to describe a series of missteps and delays on the part of prison officials, according to the video:

  • At 9:15 p.m. — by which time it is thought that Guzman had already fled through the tunnel atop a motorcycle attached to tracks in the tunnel leading to a farm building outside the high-security prison,— officials were sent to the kingpin's empty cell.
  • The "red alert" — which locks down the prison, alerts a nearby military garrison of the escape and triggers the closure of nearby Toluca Airport — was only activated at midnight.

Guzman's escape from the high-security prison — his second jailbreak — proved to be a huge embarrassment to the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Mexico arrested 20 people in connection with the escape, including the former director of the high-security prison he escaped from and a government official who oversaw Mexico's prisons.

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