The house former drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán fled in 2014 when Mexican marines had him surrounded underwent some changes recently as the Mexican government prepared to give it away in a national lottery.
The surveillance cameras that covered every angle of the modest home’s exterior were removed.
And the hole under a bathtub that Guzmán had slipped through to reach a network of tunnels was covered with a concrete slab.
The Associated Press was given access to the property in a quiet Culiacan neighborhood ahead of the lottery.
In recent weeks, Mexico’s Institute to Return Stolen Goods to the People, known by its initials as INDEP, gave it a fresh coat of white paint inside and out and tiled over the spot in the bathroom where the tub and tunnel entry point had been.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been talking up the lottery of seized properties, but gave no mention to the history of this particular house.
An expansive home in one of Mexico City’s swankiest neighborhoods and a private box at the famed Azteca Stadium have garnered more attention.
INDEP’s website lists it only as “Casa en Culiacán.”
It’s about 2,800 square feet and located, perhaps appropriately, in a neighborhood called Libertad, or “Freedom.”
The government values the two-bedroom home at $183,000.
The house had been abandoned for years and the marines did some damage when they searched it, so repairs were necessary.
Guzmán was extradited to the United States, tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison in July 2019.
INDEP officials, who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak, said they were surprised the house was getting attention.
It is not luxurious. There is no swimming pool, none of the ostentation that characterizes other narco properties in Sinaloa.
INDEP tried to auction off the home last year. It started the bidding at about $130,000. There were no takers.
Now, López Obrador is giving it away as part of the lottery, with the drawing scheduled for Wednesday, the day before Mexico celebrates its Independence Day.
It’s the first time Mexico’s national lottery is giving away property. The proceeds are to go to Mexico’s Olympic athletes.
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