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Mexico captures No.1 drug kingpin Joaquin 'Shorty' Guzman

This file photo dated July 10, 1993 shows drug trafficker Joaquin Guzman Loera "el Chapo Guzman" at the Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico, maximum security prison.

Mexico's most wanted man, drugs kingpin Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, was captured with help from US agencies in a major victory for the government in a long, brutal drugs war.

Guzman, known as "El Chapo" (Shorty) in Spanish, has long run Mexico's infamous Sinaloa Cartel and over the past decade emerged as one of the world's most powerful organized crime bosses.

He was caught in his native northwestern state of Sinaloa in an early morning operation without a shot being fired, Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said, adding that Guzman's identity had been 100 percent confirmed.

It is a political triumph for President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office in late 2012.

Pena Nieto confirmed the arrest via Twitter earlier and congratulated his security forces. The US government also applauded the arrest.

Guzman's cartel has smuggled billions of dollars worth of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines into the United States, and fought vicious turf wars with other Mexican gangs.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting, especially in western and northern regions that have long been key smuggling routes. Many of the victims were tortured and beheaded and their bodies dumped in a public place or in mass graves.

The violence has ravaged border cities and even beach resorts like Acapulco. Guzman, 56, was captured in the northwestern seaside resort of Mazatlan and flown to Mexico City. Wearing a cream shirt and dark jeans and with a black moustache, his head pushed down by a soldier in a face mask, he was frog-marched in front of reporters on live TV, bound for prison.

It was the first public glimpse of the elusive kingpin since he escaped from prison in 2001.

He looked briefly toward TV cameras waiting on the tarmac outside the Marines' hangar at Mexico City's airport, before his head was shoved back down. Murillo Karam said that security forces had nearly caught Guzman days earlier, but he gave them the slip.

"The doors of the house ... were reinforced with steel and so in the minutes it took us to open them, it allowed for an escape through tunnels," Murillo Karam said. But they tracked him down again and waited for the right moment to strike.

The attorney general said "some US agencies" had helped in capturing Guzman but he gave no more details. He did not say whether Guzman would face trial in Mexico or be extradited to the United States.

The 5-foot 6-inch (1.7-metre) Guzman's exploits have made him a legend in many impoverished communities of northern Mexico, where he has been immortalized in dozens of ballads and low budget movies.

The United States had placed a $5 million bounty on Guzman's head and authorities in Chicago last year dubbed him the city's first Public Enemy No.1 since gangster Al Capone.

US Attorney General Eric Holder described the arrest as "a landmark achievement, and a victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States."

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Tags:  Joaquín Guzmán  Shorty  US  Mexico  Sinaloa  cartel  drugs  


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