WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government believes fugitive Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is still in Mexico, and federal agents are working with Mexican authorities on his recapture, the acting head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said on Wednesday.
“Where is he probably the safest and best protected? Probably Sinaloa,” Chuck Rosenberg said in a briefing with reporters, in reference to Guzman’s home state where he built up his powerful drug cartel.
Rosenberg said DEA agents are sharing intelligence with their Mexican counterparts but added that “institutional problems” in the country made such information gathering difficult.
“We have sources in Mexico we can work closely with. It doesn’t extend throughout the entire government,” he said at a briefing with reporters.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. State Department are also involved, Rosenberg said.
The DEA on Wednesday also launched a wanted poster, tip line and email address - CHAPOTIPS@USDOJ.GOV - for information on Guzman, one of the world’s most notorious drug traffickers. The State Department is offering a $5 million reward for information that will lead to his recapture.
Guzman broke out of a maximum security prison last month, escaping in a tunnel built right under his cell.
He is wanted by U.S. authorities for a variety of criminal charges including cocaine smuggling and money laundering. A request for his extradition was made two weeks before his escape, but has since been suspended by Mexican authorities.
Rosenberg added that he was “not terribly surprised” to find out that Guzman had broken out of prison. Guzman previously escaped from prison in 2001 and was only recaptured last year.
Guzman’s drug gang has smuggled billions of dollars worth of drugs into the United States and is blamed for thousands of deaths through addiction and gang violence.
Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by David Gregorio