In the end, it may have been Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s plan to make an autobiographical movie that contributed to his capture.
Mexican officials offered some of the first details late Friday on how authorities tracked down and eventually closed in on one of the world’s most-wanted men, nearly six months after he escaped from a maximum-security prison in Mexico.
Mexico’s Attorney General Arely Gomez told reporters officials picked up El Chapo’s trail several months ago when his lawyers started contacting actors and holding meetings with producers to shoot a movie about his life.
Gomez said intelligence officials conducted surveillance on the meetings, which helped authorities intensify their manhunt. Gomez said security forces launched an operation in October to apprehend Guzmán. But he managed to escape, as soldiers held off on approaching him after he was spotted accompanied by two women and a child.
On Friday morning, they got another chance to apprehend him, Gomez said, after authorities received a tip about the presence of armed men in a home in the city of Los Mochis, in El Chapo’s home state of Sinaloa.
As federal forces approached the building, a shootout broke out. At least five people were killed. Gomez said the drug lord and an accomplice managed to flee the home through a large drain connected to the city’s sewer system, eventually climbing back up to the street to escape in a stolen vehicle. Another tip then lead authorities to a highway where “El Chapo” was finally captured.
Authorities paraded their prized catch before the cameras on Friday night. Guzmán was seen handcuffed and dressed in a dark blue shirt and sweatpants.
Soldiers transferred him from a heavily secured military vehicle to a Mexican Navy helicopter where he was whisked away, ironically, to the same maximum-security prison he escaped from in July. During that escape, he fled through a tunnel that began in his cell’s shower and ended more than a mile later at a warehouse.
It’s unclear in what part of the Altiplano prison he’ll now be housed. A few months ago, officials were renovating and reinforcing the cell block where Chapo was once held.
And many other questions remain. Just how exactly did Chapo escape prison? Government officials have yet to give a full accounting of how it happened and those involved. And now that he’s in custody again, will Mexico finally decide to extradite Guzmán to the United States?
Update January 11, 2016: A previous version of this article stated the drug lord was nabbed at a local motel. Chapo was in fact captured at a highway and then taken to the motel.
Check out more Fusion coverage on Chapo’s recapture: