El Chapo’s extraordinary jail break that saw him wheeled out in laundry basket


Notorious Mexican gangster El Chapo escaped prison by hiding in a laundry basket wheeled out by a guard with whom he was friendly.

On January 19 2001, pint-sized drug lord Joaquin Guzmán bribed a guard to open his cell door in Puente Grande maximum-security prison so he could launch his ambitious break-out.

The former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel was jailed in Mexico for money laundering and importing tons of cocaine into California.

El Chapo, 64, used long-range border tunnels to smuggle more drugs into the USA than had ever been done before, but law enforcement finally started to catch up with him in 1993.

Guzmán was extradited from Guatemala to Mexico following his capture but his first prison escape came several years into his 20-year sentence.

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A mugshot of the Mexican drug trafficker taken following his arrest in 2014

Prison guard Francisco “El Chito” Camberos Rivera unlocked Guzmán’s electronically operated cell door to start his extraordinarily straightforward escape.

Guzmán climbed got into a trolley carrying laundry that maintenance worker Javier Camberos pushed all the way out of the jail.

Once the cart was loaded into the boot of a car, Camberos drove it to a petrol station where he went in the shop but returned to find Guzmán had vanished.

The infamous criminal – who Forbes later ranked as one of the most powerful people in the world – disappeared on foot into the night.

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El Chapo
El Chapo is suspected to have spent around £2 million on his escape

Camberos was jailed for his part in the plan but an investigation found up to 78 people may have been involved, including the facility’s director who is also serving time.

Almost the entire prison staff were under El Chapo’s influence except for one guard who is suspected to have been killed seven years later for reporting the escape.

The prison guards allegedly on Guzmán’s payroll helped smuggle contraband for him behind bars as well as provide preferential treatment.

To ensure his master plan went ahead without any hiccups, Guzmán paid off police in the state of Jalisco so he had a 24-hour head-start on his captors.

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Puente Grande State prison in Zapotlanejo, Jalisco State, Mexico
Puente Grande State prison in Zapotlanejo, Jalisco State, Mexico

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Prison guards who would have normally checked the laundry basket were ordered to ignore it because Guzmán was smuggling out gold extracted from rocks at the inmate workshop.

The gangster reportedly spent around £2million on bribes to secure freedom.

He was finally arrested for the second time in 2014 but successfully escaped from prison again a year later.

Guzman is currently locked up in America following his latest sentencing in 2019.


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