Authorities in Mexico have arrested six people accused of helping drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman escape from a maximum-security prison in July.

Among those captured are his brother-in-law and a pilot, who prosecutors say flew him out of town. Police believe the brother-in-law supervised the construction of the 1.5km tunnel that the notorious drug lord used to escape the Altiplano prison in central Mexico.

Guzman, the boss of the powerful Sinaloa cartel, is Mexico’s most-wanted fugitive.

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"Today we are able to affirm that the group responsible for planning, organising and carrying out the escape from outside the prison has been broken up," the Associated Press quoted Attorney General Arely Gomez as saying on Wednesday. 

Gomez told reporters the suspected mastermind of the escape was a member of Guzman's legal team who had access to Altiplano prison and was able to update him regularly.

The news comes days after the government announced that Guzman had been hit in the leg and the face  after fleeing a failed operation to recapture him in northwestern Mexico earlier in October.

Gomez, who did not name any of the suspects, said that following his escape, Guzman travelled by land to the city of Queretaro from where he caught a small plane to a mountainous region of Sinaloa, his home state and stronghold.


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Authorities said the suspects conspired with officials inside the prison to plan, organise and execute the escape. About 23 prison officials and employees have also been arrested so far, with some facing criminal charges.

July's escape was the second for Guzman in 15 years and a major embarrassment for Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto. 

The notorious drug lord was first captured in 1993 in Guatemala, but he escaped from a prison in western Mexico in 2001 by hiding in a laundry cart.

Source: Associated Press