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Experienced Colombia helping Mexico in 'El Chapo' manhunt

By Andrew V. Pestano
The latest image of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzman, who escaped from a Mexican maximum-security prison in July for the second time by using a mile-long tunnel. Photo courtesy of Mexico's Attorney General.
The latest image of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzman, who escaped from a Mexican maximum-security prison in July for the second time by using a mile-long tunnel. Photo courtesy of Mexico's Attorney General.

BOGOTA, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The Colombian government is helping Mexican authorities with training and intelligence gathering in the hunt for notorious drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

A special operations police force in Bogota is training Mexican officials in search, combat and capture operations in relation to the manhunt for Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel who is estimated to be worth about $1 billion.

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Colombia is also assisting with intelligence gathering, according to CNN Español.

Police officials in Colombia's Anti-Kidnapping Police School train in classes such as "expert marksman, urban combat, rural combat and helicopter operations," according to school representative Maj. Giovanny Palace.

Colombia has decades of experience in combating the drug trade. Pablo Escobar, Colombia's most notorious trafficker, was regarded as the "King of Cocaine" with a net worth thought to be about $24 billion -- recognized as the world's seventh-richest man by Forbes magazine at the height of his power.

Escobar was imprisoned for about a year before he escaped in 1992. He spent several months on the run before he was shot to death by a special police unit in 1993.

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Retired Colombian Gen. Luis Enrique Montenegro said he talked to Mexican authorities about Guzman's death.

"I told them to calm down and we reminded them that we had also an escaped kingpin, Pablo Escobar, in 1992," Montenegro, according to El Universal.

Guzman escaped from a Mexican maximum-security prison for the second time in July by using a mile-long tunnel, which authorities said could have taken a year to build.

The entrance of the tunnel measured about 20-by-20 inches and the tunnel itself was about 5 feet deep. Other sections of the tunnel delve much deeper. PVC piping, likely used for ventilation and lighting, was found throughout the tunnel. A motorcycle was also found inside, apparently used to dig and to transport materials for the tunnel.

El Chapo -- meaning "The Short One" or "shorty" -- so dubbed because of his 5-foot-6-inch frame, was captured in Guatemala in 1993 and then extradited to Mexico to face murder and drug trafficking charges. He escaped from prison in 2001 by hiding in a laundry cart after bribing prison guards and was re-captured in February 2014. Guzmán's previous escape cost him about $2.5 million.

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