‘It’s Hard to Think There Was No Complicity’ — Mexican Bishop on El Chapo
Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the head of one of Mexico's biggest organized-crime syndicates, escaped on July 11 from a maximum-security prison.
TOLUCA, Mexico — Three Mexican bishops have spoken out in recent days about public-sector corruption in their nation, highlighting the escape of drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera from a maximum-security prison on Saturday.
Guzmán, known as “El Chapo,” is head of the Sinaloa Cartel and has an estimated wealth of $1 billion. He had been captured by Mexican authorities in February 2014 and escaped from a prison in Almoloya de Juarez, 12 miles northwest of Toluca, on July 11.
Bishop Eduardo Patiño Leal of Córdoba said the incident is a clear example of corruption, adding, “We would be very naïve to think that no one noticed, we didn’t know anything about it or have any evidence.”
He said that “it would be up to the authorities in that locale to have the evidence, but it’s hard to think that there was no complicity on the part of some official, something that had to have happened.”
“What’s necessary is that, when someone is handed over, the processes are carried out with transparency, clarity; and if somebody has to pay, he should pay, but also he should be given rehabilitation, so he can be reintegrated into society,” Bishop Patiño concluded.
Guzmán escaped from prison through a hole in the shower area of his cell, which led to a a tunnel about one mile long. The tunnel included a motorcycle on rails and led to a safe house.
Three of the prison’s senior officials have been dismissed from their positions.
Bishop Francisco Moreno Barrón of Tlaxcala criticized the “fragility” of the nation’s maximum-security prisons.
Mexico’s national security commissioner, Monte Alejandro Rubido, said at a July 14 press conference that as soon as an employee notices that an inmate is missing, a “code red” should be issued. Yet Reforma, a Mexico City daily newspaper, reported the following day that it took 23 minutes from the moment of Guzmán’s escape before such an alert was issued.
“Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, has escaped by a tunnel from a maximum-security prison for the second time, weakening even more the little credibility that the citizenry has for the federal authorities,” commented Bishop José Martínez Zepeda of Irapuato.
The drug kingpin had also broken out of a Mexican prison in 2001, having bribed several guards to assist him.
“This is another drama for Mexico,” Bishop Martínez said, “since everything that is being said about how the country is more peaceful fades away when a drug dealer escapes for the second time from a maximum-security prison, which is a mockery for the citizens.
“We all have to work to get through this crisis of credibility, of justice, of lawfulness, and then try to reconstruct the country on the firm foundations of truth, justice and transparency.”