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Cellphone, wiretaps led to legendary drug lord ‘El Chapo’

CULIACAN, Mexico — After fruitlessly pursuing one of the world’s top drug lords for years, authorities finally drew close to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman using a cellphone found at a house where drugs were stored.

The phone belonging to a Guzman aide was recovered with clues from a U.S. wiretap and provided a key break in the long chase to find Guzman, officials told the Associated Press on Sunday.

Another big leap forward came after police analyzed information from a different wiretap that pointed them to a beachfront condo where the legendary leader of the Sinaloa cartel was hiding, according to a U.S. government official and a senior federal law enforcement official.

When he was at last taken into custody with his beauty-queen wife, Guzman had a military-style assault rifle in the room, but he didn’t go for it.

The cellphone was found Feb. 16 at a house Guzman had been using in Culiacan. By early the next day, the Mexican military had captured one of Guzman’s top couriers, who promptly provided details of the stash houses Guzman and his associates had been using, the officials said.

At each house, the Mexican military found the same thing: steel reinforced doors and an escape hatch below the bathtubs. Each hatch led to a series of interconnected tunnels in the city’s drainage system.

The officials said troops who raided Guzman’s main house in Culiacan chased him through the drainage pipes before losing him in the maze under the city.

A day later, on Feb. 18, Guzman aide Manuel Lopez Ozorio was arrested and told investigators that he had picked up Guzman, cartel communications chief Carlos Manuel Ramirez and a woman from a drainage pipe and helped them flee to Mazatlan. AP



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