The criminal mind behind the tunnels of "El Chapo" Guzmán

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The criminal mind behind the tunnels of "El Chapo" Guzmán

Sophisticated underground construction allowed the drug trafficker not only to escape from a maximum security prison but also to build a whole network to smuggle drugs and hide under the ground

Between 2006 and 2015, US authorities detected 80 of the so-called "narcotunnels" on the Mexican border , most had a name: Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, who built much of his criminal empire thanks to sophisticated works by engineering that allowed him to move thousands of tons of drugs.

The construction of tunnels used by the Sinaloa Cartel, according to the US government, began in the states of Baja California and Sonora and then extended to Culiacán, in his native Sinaloa where he used them to hide drugs, weapons, money and escape of the authorities, since through this system at least six of their properties were interconnected in the city.

Behind these engineering works is a character named Avelino Isunza, apparently unknown in the world of drug trafficking , but very familiar to the Sinaloa Cartel.

His name came to light in the trial against Guzmán Loera in Brooklyn, New York in which he was found guilty of 10 crimes related to drug trafficking and money laundering and sentenced to life imprisonment plus an additional 30 years in prison.

There is little information about Isunza , but his name came to light when Jesus "The King" Zambada, witness of the prosecutor's office and who was head of the Sinaloa square in the country's capital, said it was "very important" for "El Chapo ", in addition to being" a very intelligent man, " as mentioned in his book" The Trial: Chronicle of the Fall of Chapo, "the journalist Jesús Esquivel.

The tunnels were used as evidence that the Sinaloa Cartel had a kind of engineering division , which has not been as researched as the armed arms, but no less important for Guzmán Loera.

The discoveries of different tunnels have allowed the authorities to verify that they have air conditioning, electricity and rails that show an engineering work that went around the world in July 2015 when the drug dealer escaped through a tunnel that connected with his cell in the maximum security prison of the Altiplano, in the State of Mexico.

The one-kilometer piece connected to the cell bathroom and had enough space for Guzmán Loera to move in a motorcycle in a matter of minutes at the end of the tunnel.

Days before his second capture, on February 22, 2014, "El Chapo" managed to flee an operation in Culiacán through a tunnel that connected the bathroom with the storm drain system.

On February 17 of that year, according to information from the Secretariat of the Navy of Mexico, Guzman fled the house located on Calle Humaya 130, in the Guadalupe neighborhood, towards the Humaya river, after walking more than three kilometers through the pipes They channel rainwater.

In seizures made in the following days, authorities found similar mechanisms in seven of 19 drug-related properties.

The seven connected the tub with the drainage , had electricity, stairs and even steel locks - security doors - that prevented the passage of rainwater to the buildings that gave it a span of between 8 to 15 minutes to escape.

Thanks to the Avelino Isunza system it was even possible to build cross-border sources such as the one that connected San Diego, in California, with Tijuana, in Mexico, discovered on August 10, 2014 at the Mesa de Otay.

The subway had electricity, ventilation and a rail system that allowed moving wagons with drugs from one country to another. In statements to the AP news agency , authorities  linked cross-border construction with "El Chapo" and the Sinaloa Cartel.