By Naina Bajekal
July 16, 2015

The Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman may have had the help of a little birdie when he escaped a high-security prison on July 11 via a mile-long tunnel that connected Guzman’s shower area to a construction site in a nearby farm field. According to Mexican newspaper Reforma, government officials searching Guzman’s cell in the high-security Altiplano prison discovered a dead sparrow in his trash can. El Pais also reported that there was a small, dirty nest in a little window of the cell.

Reportedly nicknamed “Chapito” by the officials, the bird may have been used to test for toxic substances in the tunnel – much in the same way that coal miners once carried canaries with them to detect dangerous gases underground. Other investigators said it could have been Guzman sending a subliminal message symbolizing his own flight.

Reforma also reported that the Sinaloa cartel boss also left a small LCD television turned on at high-volume inside his cell to distract guards from suspecting his absence.

Mexican authorities have 10,000 agents on high-alert as they try to recapture Guzman, but have not yet responded to U.S. offers of assistance.

[Reforma]

 

Write to Naina Bajekal at naina.bajekal@time.com.

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