Mexican drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman escapes from prison

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Mexico has mounted an all-out manhunt for its most powerful drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who escaped from maximum security prison through a 1 mile tunnel. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

Top Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has escaped from a maximum security prison for the second time, officials announced late Saturday.

Guzman, who headed the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, was last seen in the showers of the Altiplano prison, about 56 miles outside the Mexico City, according to a statement from the National Security Commission. He went to the shower area but after some time was lost by security camera surveillance. When authorities went to check his cell, it was empty.

A manhunt began immediately in the surrounding area and highways. Flights have also been suspended at Toluca airport near the penitentiary.

Guzman was captured in February 2014 after more than a decade on the lam. He was listed as 56 years old at the time, though there are varying dates for his birth.

During his time as a fugitive, Guzman transformed himself from a middling Mexican capo into arguably the most powerful drug trafficker on the world. His fortune grew to be estimated at more than $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine, which listed him among the "World's Most Powerful People" and ranked him above the presidents of France and Venezuela.

The Sinaloa Cartel empire stretches throughout North American and has reached Europe and Australia. The cartel has been heavily involved in the bloody drug war in Mexico for the last decade which has cost about 100,000 lives.

Sinaloa is believed now to control most of the major crossing points for drugs at the U.S. border with Mexico.

Guzman was first caught by authorities in Guatemala in 1993, extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison in Mexico on drug-trafficking-related charges. He escaped from another maximum security prison, Puente Grande in western Jalisco state, in 2001, with help of prison guards. The lore said he escaped in a laundry cart, though there were several tales of how he got away.