The world's most powerful drug lord 'El Chapo' Guzman is reportedly cornered in a rugged mountain range, according to Mexican authorities that are said to have just missed him on their latest swoop.
The Sinaloa drug cartel chief has been on the run since escaping from his Altiplano prison cell on July 11 through a trap door that led to a 1.5km tunnel and an awaiting motorcycle.
Military operations are said to be underway in Sinaloa where authorities believe they are closing in on Guzman, 56, after US drug enforcement agency officers located his phone, and tipped-off Mexican officials.
According to a report in The Mirror authorities stormed Guzman's hideout but all that was left was his clothes and a discarded phone.
The find has reportedly led to hundreds of Mexican military flooding the area.
Sinaloan Governor Mario Lopez is said to have confirmed the military activity in the mountainous region that extends from Jesus Maria – 30 miles north of the state's capital Culiacan – all the way to the neighbouring states of Durango and Chihuahua.
The Mirror reports that Mexican marines have sealed off 13 communities, forcing at least 260 people to flee their homes and seek refuge elsewhere.
Julio “El Tio” Martinez, who works closely with the gangs, has been quoted as saying: “Why would he (Guzman) go anywhere else if he enjoys the protection of federal and state security forces, as well of that of the governor (Lopez).
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“He controls the whole region and the communities protect him as well.”
Guzman’s cartel is said to control the whole northwestern region of Mexico and uses the mountainous region to cultivate poppy plants and marijuana. The area also has covert landing strips, which are used by his fleet of small aircraft to transport drugs towards the US border.
The news comes as a second video of his escape has emerged. In the video the sound of loud hammering can be heard from his cell, as men work to complete his escape route.
The leaked footage to the Televise channel shows how guards turned a blind ear to “construction sounds” and just how slowly they reacted to the escape.