Drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has escaped a Mexican prison for the second time, jail authorities have confirmed. Guzman is considered by US authorities to be "the most powerful drug trafficker in the world."
In a statement issued by Mexico's National Security Commission, officials last saw Guzman when he went to the Altiplano prison's showers early on Sunday morning. The jail authorities found his cell empty upon inspection.
A search operation to find Mexico's top drug lord is underway, and flights at Toluca airport near Mexico City have been suspended, authorities said.
Guzman was captured in Guatemala in 1993, but escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001, hidden in a laundry basket. The kingpin was re-arrested in February, 2014.
Officials in the US had offered a reward of $5 million for information leading to Guzman's arrest.
In 2013, Guzman was named "Public Enemy No. 1" by the Chicago Crime Commission. The chief reason was said to be his ability to sneak vast quantities of cocaine, heroin and marijuana into the US.
The diminutive Guzman was also on Forbes magazine's list of billionaires until 2013, when the publication said it could not verify his wealth. Guzman was reported to be spending an increasing amount of money on protection.
However, he remained ranked by Forbes as one of the most powerful people in the world.