The astounding mistake Mexico made that may have helped 'El Chapo' Guzmán escape

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This Is the Moment Drug Lord 'El Chapo' Escapes the Altiplano Prison

Prior to Sinaloa cartel chief Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's brazen jailbreak in July 2015, Mexican federal officials allowed a private company to connect a geolocation-monitoring bracelet to him.

But that company was never contracted to work for the government — and that bracelet was never watched.

A report by Mexican periodical Reforma was unable to find definitive answers about who authorized the device and who monitored it, which suggests the possibility that it was another element of the kingpin's escape plan.

"Some high officials in the federal government consider that, because of the grade of precision in the digging and the excavation," Reforma concludes, "the tunnel through which 'El Chapo' escaped could not have been constructed without the help of geolocation device."

el chapo tunnelMexico National Security Commission/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Pilot program

Judicial documents seen by Reforma indicate that the bracelet Guzmán was wearing the night of his escape, July 11, was never monitored by the National Center for Security and Investigations (Cisen), the federal police, or the office of Prevention and Social Readaptation (OADPRS).

One of the top officials responsible for monitoring Guzmán from the control center at Altiplano prison told the Attorney General's investigators that his office had received the equipment needed to monitor the bracelet, but never used it, according to Reforma.

After Guzmán's escape, the Attorney General's investigations office interviewed Enrique Angulo Cervera, the adjunct director of informatics, material resources, and services for OADPRS, who said the monitoring system was installed by Mexican company Systemtech Sistemas Tecnológicos as a "pilot project" in the Altiplano control center, which was run by the federal police, in November 2014.

Because it was a pilot program, there was no contract with the company that made it, Angulo told investigators. The aim was that "those responsible for the monitoring [could] evaluate the functionality and convenience" of the service, Angulo said.

Altiplano Mexican Prison El Chapo GuzmanMexico National Security Commission/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Angulo also pointed investigators to the office within the federal police that is by law responsible for implementing and administering technological systems.

Vicente Flores Hernández, head of the federal police's control center at Altiplano, partially corroborated to investigators what Angulo had said, confirming that police were aware of the device.

However, Flores told them, federal police never monitored the bracelet; he said Systemtech Sistemas Tecnológicos reported that the signal was monitored in Mexican City, but did not say by whom.

Investigators from the Attorney General's office then contacted José Alejandro Colín Elías, director of institutional security for Cisen, who told them in writing that his agency monitored Guzmán through closed-circuit cameras with microphones.

When asked specifically about the monitoring bracelet, Colín replied on July 31 last year: "Yes, at some point it was reported to me by someone working for me in the Social Readaptation Center Number 1, Altiplano, that it was put on [Guzmán] with the aim of monitoring him, without knowing what company or what person ordered that it be connected."

chapo guzman mexico tunnelMexico National Security Commission/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

That the monitoring bracelet was installed under orders from an as-yet unknown source, and that it was monitored by some unknown official in a location that is also unknown, could all point to some larger scheme hatched by Guzmán and his henchmen not long after his arrest in February 2014.

Of course, given the administrative disarray that characterizes much of the Mexican government's operations, Mexican officials may have made this error without any outside help.

Playing games

While orchestrating the delivery of a geolocation device to his cell would be a complex feat for Guzmán, it would only be but one part of his escape scheme.

It's believed that the engineers who constructed the tunnel — who were reportedly trained in Germany — had blueprints from the prison Guzmán broke out of in 2001. That prison and Altiplano have roughly the same design.

Nor was the bracelet the only oversight by prison officials at Altiplano. In the moments before his escape on July 11, loud banging and machinery sounds were heard coming from his cell and could be heard on the security-camera footage released after his escape.

prison el chapoMexico National Security Commission/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

Officials in the prison control center would also found to be playing solitaire and otherwise ignoring their computers while Guzmán escaped. (Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto also went back to playing dominoes after he learned of the escape.)

The security cameras picked up Guzmán walking into his cell shower and then disappearing on the night of the escape, but 18 minutes passed between when officials noticed he was gone and when they got to the cell to investigate. It took another three hours to activate a "code red" to lock down the prison and alert outside authorities.

As of September 2015, nearly 30 officials had been arrested on suspicion of aiding the escape; among them were two ex-directors of Altiplano and the former head of Mexico's federal prisons.

Mexican officials seem to be much more vigilant now that they have Guzmán back in jail at Altiplano after recapturing him on January 8, increasing security at the prison and moving the kingpin from cell to cell.

If, however, the Sinaloa cartel chief ends up extradited to the US, as many believe he will be, then he may have more say in his accommodations.

NOW WATCH: This is how Mexican drug cartels make billions selling drugs

More on El Chapo's escape:

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El Chapo house, scene of gunfight
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The astounding mistake Mexico made that may have helped 'El Chapo' Guzmán escape
This frame-grab taken from Jan. 8, 2016 video released by Mexico's presidential press office, shows Mexican navy marines storming a home during the operation to recapture Mexico's most wanted drug kingpin, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in Los Mochis, Mexico. Mexico has begun the process of extraditing Guzman to the United States, where he faces drug-trafficking charges, but that could take "a year or longer" because of legal challenges, said the head of Mexico's extradition office, Manuel Merino. He cited one extradition case that took six years. (Mexico's presidential press office via AP)
This frame-grab taken from Jan. 8, 2016 video released by Mexico's presidential press office, shows Mexican navy marines storming a home during the operation to recapture Mexico's most wanted drug kingpin, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in Los Mochis, Mexico. Mexico has begun the process of extraditing Guzman to the United States, where he faces drug-trafficking charges, but that could take "a year or longer" because of legal challenges, said the head of Mexico's extradition office, Manuel Merino. He cited one extradition case that took six years. (Mexico's presidential press office via AP)
This frame-grab taken from Jan. 8, 2016 video released by Mexico's presidential press office, shows Mexican navy marines storming a home during the operation to recapture Mexico's most wanted drug kingpin, Joaquin "El Chapo Guzman" Guzman in Los Mochis, Mexico. Mexico has begun the process of extraditing Guzman to the United States, where he faces drug-trafficking charges, but that could take "a year or longer" because of legal challenges, said the head of Mexico's extradition office, Manuel Merino. He cited one extradition case that took six years. (Mexico's presidential press office via AP)
Blood and car oil cover the garage floor, and gun holes puncture the walls, inside the home where marines engaged in a gun battle during the search for Mexican drug lord Joaquin âEl Chapoâ Guzman, in Los Mochis, Mexico, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. Guzman apparently fled from the home into the sewer and emerged blocks away, where he commandeered a vehicle and continued his escape until authorities eventually caught him on Friday. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
Police tape surrounds the entrance of the home where marines engaged in a gun battle during the search for Mexican drug lord Joaquin âEl Chapoâ Guzman, in Los Mochis, Mexico, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. Guzman apparently fled from the home Friday before authorities eventually caught him. A month or two of intensive renovations transformed the house into a completely enclosed structure. Windows and glass doors with horizontal grating were installed and new walls that advanced to the sidewalk. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
A security camera sits above a street sign on the exterior wall of the home where marines engaged in a gun battle during the search for Mexican drug lord Joaquin âEl Chapoâ Guzman, in Los Mochis, Mexico, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. A month or two of intensive renovations transformed the house into a completely enclosed structure, and the new owners also installed surveillance cameras. On Friday, Guzman fled from the home before authorities eventually caught him. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
A police truck sits parked outside the home where marines engaged in a gun battle during the search for Mexican drug lord Joaquin âEl Chapoâ Guzman, in Los Mochis, Mexico, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. Guzman apparently fled from the home Friday before authorities eventually caught him. A month or two of intensive renovations transformed the house, which is completely obscured by the tops of thick trees, into a completely enclosed structure, with its new walls advancing to the sidewalk. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
Bullet holes cover the door at the residence where marines engaged in a gun battle during the search for Mexican drug lord Joaquin âEl Chapoâ Guzman, in Los Mochis, Mexico, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. Guzman apparently fled from the home into the sewer and emerged blocks away, where he commandeered a vehicle and continued his escape until authorities eventually caught him on Friday. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
The garage sits empty inside the home where marines engaged in a gun battle during the search for Mexican drug lord Joaquin âEl Chapoâ Guzman, in Los Mochis, Mexico, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. Guzman apparently fled from the home, which occupies a corner lot on a busy four-lane boulevard in a neighborhood favored by local politicians, until authorities eventually caught him on Friday. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
A Mexican navy marine stands next to a house under construction that was scene of a firefight during the operation to capture Joaquin "El Chapo "Guzman in Los Mochis, Mexico, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. Guzman, a legendary figure in Mexico who went from a farmer's son to the world's top drug lord, was apprehended after a shootout between gunmen and Mexican marines.(AP Photo/Christian Palma)
Forensic experts document the scene where one man was killed by security forces during the firefight that ensued to capture Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in a house under construction in Los Mochis, Mexico, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. Guzman, a legendary figure in Mexico who went from a farmer's son to the world's top drug lord, was apprehended after a shootout between gunmen and Mexican marines. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
A Mexican marine keeps watch in the house where five alleged gang members were killed in the military operation which resulted in the recapture of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, in Los Mochis city, Sinaloa State, Mexico on January 11, 2016. Mexican marines recaptured fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman on January 8 in the northwest of the country, six months after his spectacular prison break embarrassed authorities. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Bullet holes on a wall in the house where five alleged gang members were killed in the military operation which resulted in the recapture of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, in Los Mochis city, Sinaloa State, Mexico on January 11, 2016. Mexican marines recaptured fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman on January 8 in the northwest of the country, six months after his spectacular prison break embarrassed authorities. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Blood in a room inside the house where five alleged gang members were killed in the military operation which resulted in the recapture of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, in Los Mochis city, Sinaloa State, Mexico on January 11, 2016. Mexican marines recaptured fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman on January 8 in the northwest of the country, six months after his spectacular prison break embarrassed authorities. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Traces of heavy fighting in the house where five alleged gang members were killed in the military operation which resulted in the recapture of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, in Los Mochis city, Sinaloa State, Mexico on January 11, 2016. Mexican marines recaptured fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman on January 8 in the northwest of the country, six months after his spectacular prison break embarrassed authorities. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
A pool of blood in a room inside the house where five alleged gang members were killed in the military operation which resulted in the recapture of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, in Los Mochis city, Sinaloa State, Mexico on January 11, 2016. Mexican marines recaptured fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman on January 8 in the northwest of the country, six months after his spectacular prison break embarrassed authorities. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
A room inside the house where five gang member suspects were killed in the military operation which resulted in the recapture of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, in Los Mochis city, Sinaloa State, Mexico on January 11, 2016. Mexican marines recaptured fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman on January 8 in the northwest of the country, six months after his spectacular prison break embarrassed authorities. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
View of a room in the house where five alleged gang members were killed in the military operation which resulted in the recapture of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, in Los Mochis city, Sinaloa State, Mexico on January 11, 2016. Mexican marines recaptured fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman on January 8 in the northwest of the country, six months after his spectacular prison break embarrassed authorities. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Inside a room in the house where five alleged gang members were killed in the military operation which resulted in the recapture of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, in Los Mochis city, Sinaloa State, Mexico on January 11, 2016. Mexican marines recaptured fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman on January 8 in the northwest of the country, six months after his spectacular prison break embarrassed authorities. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Bullet holes on a wall in the house where five alleged gang members were killed in the military operation which resulted in the recapture of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, in Los Mochis city, Sinaloa State, Mexico on January 11, 2016. Mexican marines recaptured fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman on January 8 in the northwest of the country, six months after his spectacular prison break embarrassed authorities. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
A room inside the house where five gang member suspects were killed in the military operation which resulted in the recapture of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, in Los Mochis city, Sinaloa State, Mexico on January 11, 2016. Mexican marines recaptured fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman on January 8 in the northwest of the country, six months after his spectacular prison break embarrassed authorities. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
A journalist films on January 11, 2016 inside the house where five gang member suspects were killed in the military operation which resulted in the recapture of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, in Los Mochis city, Sinaloa State, Mexico on January 11, 2016. Mexican marines recaptured fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman on January 8 in the northwest of the country, six months after his spectacular prison break embarrassed authorities. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists work on a tunnel through which Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman tried to escape during the military operation that resulted in his recapture, in Los Mochis city, Sinaloa State, Mexico on January 11, 2016. Mexican marines recaptured fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman on January 8 in the northwest of the country, six months after his spectacular prison break embarrassed authorities. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
A journalist walks along a tunnel through which Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman tried to escape during the military operation that resulted in his recapture, in Los Mochis city, Sinaloa State, Mexico on January 11, 2016. Mexican marines recaptured fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman on January 8 in the northwest of the country, six months after his spectacular prison break embarrassed authorities. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR GUERRERO / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
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