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Drug boss escape overshadows Nieto’s visit to France

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (CL), his wife Angelica Rivera, flanked by France's Justice Minister Christiane Taubira (L) visit the Hotel National des Invalides in Paris, on July 13, 2015.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (CL), his wife Angelica Rivera, flanked by France's Justice Minister Christiane Taubira (L) visit the Hotel National des Invalides in Paris, on July 13, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ POOL /THIBAULT CAMUS

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s state visit to France, where he is attending the Bastille Day military parade Tuesday, threatens to be eclipsed by criticisms over the recent escape of Mexico’s most-wanted drug lord.


Nieto arrived in Paris on Sunday to news that Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman had staged a dramatic escape from the maximum-security Altiplano prison, located 90 kilometres west of the capital.

Guzman’s getaway was a sophisticated 1.5 kilometre-long tunnel under his cell's shower. It was the second time in 14 years that the head of the Sinaloa drug cartel has fled jail.

Nieto was supposed to be enjoying a moment in the limelight as the guest of honour at the military parade and other ceremonies marking France’s July 14 national holiday. Instead he was lambasted by columnists and cartoonists back home over Guzman’s prison break.  

Click on the arrows below for cartoons poking fun at Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto over “El Chapo” Guzman’s intrepid prison break.


In a brief press statement issued shortly after his arrival, the Mexican leader said he was "appalled" by the escape, calling it "a very regrettable fact that has outraged Mexican society."

On Tuesday, Nieto attends the Bastille Day military parade alongside French President François Hollande in a first for a Mexican president.

More than 150 Mexican soldiers will open the parade, including military falconers who will march with their golden eagles and buzzards.

US documents show ‘El Chapo’ began plotting in 2014

Nieto’s visit came amid reports that Guzman began plotting to break out of prison almost immediately after his recapture at a seaside resort in February 2014.

Documents from the US drug enforcement agency, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), obtained by The Associated Press reveal that drug agents first got information in March 2014 that Guzman’s various family members and drug-world associates were considering "potential operations to free” the drug lord.

The DEA alerted Mexican authorities 16 months ago about the plans, according to The Associated Press.

Mexican Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong denied Monday night that authorities in Mexico were ever informed of potential escapes.

"They themselves have told us that they don't know where that information came from," he said referring to US counterparts and the AP's report.

The Mexican government announced that it is offering a 60 million-peso ($3.8 million) reward for Guzman's recapture and that it has fired three prison system officials, including the director of the prison where Guzman escaped. Forty-nine people have been questioned by the government's organised crime unit, including 32 prison employees.

Family Christmas parties in jail

Guzman’s escape has put the spotlight on the rampant corruption levels among Mexico’s police force.

The subject of countless narcocorrido ballads about his gall and banditry, Guzman was known to throw massive Christmas parties in prison, according to one of Mexico’s leading writers on the mafia, Anabel Hernández.

His escape has raised questions about whether it was an inside job and if so, at what level does the complicity and corruption reach.

Nieto has ordered an investigation into possible police complicity.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)


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