His final moments of freedom. Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán bided his time in a safe house in the residential coastal town of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, before the Mexican marines swooped in on his location and recaptured the country's most-wanted man.
Photos of the spot — some censored by Us Weekly because of violent images — reveal that the kingpin was thoroughly prepared to escape and evade capture. Inside the modest apartment was a lounge where the head of Mexico's biggest cartel and his henchmen would convene.
El Chapo's bedroom, though nothing special to the naked eye, had some custom built-in features, including a secret doorway. The door itself was concealed by a large mirror that could only be operated by a hidden lever. The mirror itself would then open out and lead to a stairway that went down to an underground tunnel.
The tunnel was connected through the sewer system, and was the escape route El Chapo used to flee the residence when authorities barged in. Photos from the aftermath of the capture show the entire place ransacked, including the kitchen, which was fully stocked with goods.
El Chapo, 57, was also able to keep tabs on current events while there via a TV that was set up in the plush lounge, which included several large sofas. During the shoot-out on Friday, January 8, five suspects were killed and six others were taken into custody.
Authorities revealed to the Associated Press this weekend that El Chapo's initial meeting and subsequent communication with Sean Penn — whose Rolling Stone interview with the world's most powerful drug trafficker was published on Saturday, January 9 — was one of the contributing factors that led to his arrest. On Wednesday, January 13, the Wall Street Journal reported that the drug lord's obsession with Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, and his frequent communication with her, was also a key contribution to his recapture.
In his RS piece, Penn, 55, wrote that he sensed the Mexican government was tracing his movements, back when he initially met with El Chapo in October 2015.
"There is no question in my mind but that the DEA and the Mexican government are tracking our movements," the Oscar winner wrote in the piece. "From the moment Kate [who orchestrated the meeting] had gone out on a limb with her tweet of January 2012 through the beginning of our encrypted negotiations to meet El Chapo, I had been bewildered by his willingness to risk our visit. If Kate was being surveilled, so must those named on any shared flight manifest. I see no spying eyes, but I assume they are there."
El Chapo is currently being held at the maximum-security prison in Altiplano, Mexico, and is facing extradition to the U.S.
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