Mexico police search hotels, hospitals for drug lord

Mexico police search hotels, hospitals for drug lord
A Mexican Marine stands guard during a search operation to locate drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, at the neighbourhood where he was detained in 2014, in Mazatlan, Mexico, July 15, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

MEXICO CITY - Mexican authorities are searching hotels, hospitals and funeral homes in a massive manhunt for fugitive drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, while boosting operations at the Guatemala border, officials said Wednesday.

The interior ministry said 101 checkpoints have been placed on the main roads and highways of 21 of the country's 31 states and the capital since Guzman fled prison on Saturday.

More than 100,000 leaflets with recent pictures of Guzman were distributed at toll booths.

Some 1,250 federal police officers have fanned out in special search units around the Altiplano prison from where he escaped, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of Mexico City.

In addition, more than 180 special forces from the police gendarmerie are searching for the Sinaloa drug cartel kingpin.

Some 8,200 federal police officers are on "maximum alert" in every state, the interior ministry said in a statement.

"Special operations are being conducted to check hotels, hospitals and funeral homes," the ministry said.

Every private flight is being checked at the nation's airports, with a "rigorous inspection of passengers." Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong met with Guatemala's ambassador to review the measures both nations have taken since Guzman's escape on Saturday night.

The two officials "agreed on additional measures to strengthen land, maritime and air operations that have been undertaken on both sides of the border." The two countries decided to "intensify" inspections at airports and border checkpoints.

Guzman, 58 was first captured in Guatemala in 1993, but he escaped from a maximum-security prison in western Mexico in 2001.

He was recaptured in February 2014, but he broke out of prison again on Saturday through a 1.5-kilometer (one-mile) tunnel that was dug under his cell's shower, embarrassing President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration.

Osorio Chongo also met with US Ambassador Anthony Wayne on Tuesday.

Wayne said in a statement that several US law enforcement agencies were ready to "collaborate and exchange information with Mexican authorities" to recapture Guzman, who faces criminal charges in the United States.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration played a key role in Guzman's capture last year, providing intelligence to help Mexican marines catch him in a condo in the Sinaloa beach resort of Mazatlan.

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