- Mexico is gifting El Chapo’s former safe house as a lottery prize, the Associated Press reported.
- Authorities tried to auction off the Culiacan home last year but there were no takers.
- Mexican marines raided the home in 2014; El Chapo escaped through tunnels, but was caught in 2016.
In February 2014, Guzman, then the head of the Sinaloa cartel was said to be hiding in a house in Culiacan, Mexico, but fled through back tunnels and canals as authorities hunted for him. He was caught a few days later in nearby Mazatlan.
That Culiacan house has since been renovated after Mexican marines rammed through its doors in their effort to catch the drug lord. The AP reported surveillance cameras that could see everything around the perimeter of the home were removed, and the hole under a bathtub that connected to underground tunnels was covered up.
Mexico’s Institute to Return Stolen Goods to the People, known as INDEP, did not make any mention that the home was El Chapo’s safe house. The house is only listed as “Casa en Culiacán,” or Culiacan house on its website.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who revealed the prizes in June also did not give a lot of details on the house’s history.
Speaking about the home’s features, Obrador said it had a black fence and was seven minutes from a park but made no mention of the infamous drug lord.
Last year, the INDEP tried to auction the house with bidding starting at around $130,000 but there were no takers, the AP reported.
The two-bedroom home had been abandoned for years and is estimated to be worth $183,000.
Guzman had a history of escaping authorities. He was imprisoned in Puente Grande, a maximum-security facility outside of the city of Guadalajara in 1995 for a 1993 shootout at the Guadalajara airport. In January 2001, he escaped in a laundry cart, after the Mexican Supreme Court ruled he could be extradited to the US.
He remained at large for 13 years, until he was caught again in 2014. He then again escaped from a Mexican prison on July 11, 2015. This time, he slipped through a hole in his cell that was in a blind spot from the security camera. The hole led to an underground tunnel that cost him an estimated $50 million in construction and bribes.
Lottery tickets cost about $12.50 and the winner will be drawn on September 15, the day before Mexico’s Independence Day.