BBC News - Mexico's top drug lord Joaquin 'Shorty' Guzman arrested

22 February 2014 Last updated at 15:38 ET

One of the world's most wanted drug barons, Joaquin Guzman, known as El Chapo or "Shorty", has been arrested in Mexico.

He was the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, which smuggles huge amounts of illegal drugs into the US.

"Shorty" Guzman had been on the run since escaping a high security prison in a laundry basket in 2001.

He was arrested in Sinaloa state, in a joint operation with American anti-drugs forces.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto used his Twitter account to praise the forces involved in Guzman's arrest in the north-western resort of Mazatlan, in his home state of Sinaloa.

Guzman has been taken to Mexico City and paraded before the media at a navy hangar, before boarding a helicopter surrounded by heavily armed troops.

He was taken straight to prison, Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam told AP.

The US state department had offered a reward of up to $5m (£3.2m) for information leading to his arrest.

He has been indicted in the US on federal trafficking charges and US officials want him extradited.

The Sinaloa cartel controls much of the flow of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine to the United States.

'Success story'

"Shorty" Guzman's arrest is a big boost for the administration of Enrique Pena Nieto, reports the BBC's Will Grant in Mexico City.

Mr Pena Nieto, who took office just over two years ago, said he intended to change the "war on drugs" policy of his predecessor, Felipe Calderon, which critics say led to a rise in violence throughout Mexico.

But Mexican police and troops have killed or arrested key figures in the drugs cartels since Mr Pena Nieto came to power.

The US has also arrested several associates and relatives of "Shorty" Guzman.

In May 2012, the US Treasury Department put two of his sons - Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar and Ovidio Guzman Lopez - on its blacklist of drugs kingpins.

Their assets were frozen and American citizens and companies were prevented from doing business with them.

Guzman's father-in-law, Ines Coronel, was arrested nearly a year ago. He was accused of smuggling drugs into the US.

Guzman's fortune, estimated by Forbes magazine at about $1bn (£630m), has given him hero status for many in impoverished Mexican communities, especially in his native Sinaloa state.

"A lot of people here see Guzman as a success story, because he is a poor guy who has been able to beat the system and become richer than you could ever imagine," singer Omar Meza told Reuters.

He was born in the town of Badiraguato, probably 56 years ago, and became an important figure in the drug cartels in the 1980s, arresting, torturing and murdering rivals on his way to the top.

He was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and handed over to the Mexican authorities. He was sentenced to more than 20 years in jail, but he bribed officers and escaped a maximum security jail in Mexico in 2001.

Since then, he has been continued to run the Sinaloa Cartel with complete impunity.