Arturo Fontes CNN Interview

By A Fontes on July 2015

Aired July 15, 2015 – 07:00 ET – CNN Transcript of New Day

CAMEROTA: New surveillances video shows the moment that Joaquin El Chapo Guzman escaped from his jail cell. A notorious drug lord left his prison cell Saturday. As you can see there, just by sneaking out through a hole in the floor. And now, a desperate search is under way.

We have a former FBI special agent with a 28-year career with the bureau working in organized crime, intelligence, violent crime and drug trafficking. Thank you so much for being on “New Day.” We understand that you…


CAMEROTA: You spend ten years, specifically, studying El Chapo and working on cases connected to him. What was your reaction when you heard he had escaped?

FONTES: Just, first of all, I knew about Chapo in San Diego, California, right after the cartel was killed. I did a tour in ’98 to 2000. I’m a little – I was – at the time of the escape, it was uncountable to me. After a day of pondering his escape, I started thinking a little bit about Chapo’s background. He’s someone that is charismatic. He escaped in 2001 in a prison in Guadalajara. His lieutenant is Lopez, a former director of the prison. His sons, he was – he is also a master mind in tunnels in San

Diego that had been discovered. That was the finding that happened with the Felix Organization.


FONTES: It’s not as much of a surprise looking at his background and how charismatic he was and how he was able to escape.

CAMEROTA: And let’s talk about how it can happen. How is it possible that a mile long tunnel is built directly under his jail cell with a motorcycle track in it and no one knows that’s happening?

FONTES: Well, Mexico, as you can see is a third country. It is the corruption is systemic. There was definitely corruption in the prison and, you know, he did, you know, there is low level corruption. Keep in mind that we have also, the U.S., we had the escape at the Clinton Correctional Institute where 12 of the guards were compromised. Here is a person that has deep pockets.

CAMEROTA: You said low level corruption, I assume you say in this prison as well and that led to it. Did Guzman have connections to this warden?

[07:25:00] FONTES: I believe that Chapo Guzman, being the person he is, he was able to compromise several of the guards and keep in mind, he may have used his immediate family and his organization to help him with his release, but I do, you know, he does have a lot of money and he does have a lot of power. He’s not just a man, I believe, an institution because of his notoriety. He is someone that the Mexican people see as almost like a Robin Hood.

CAMEROTA: Very quickly, the U.S. Marshals, the FBI, every fugitive agency in the United States is offering their help to Mexico. Thus far, Mexico said no thanks. Why not take all the drones, all the manpower and task forces the U.S. has to help find him?

FONTES: Eventually, it’s going to happen. Keep in mind, Mexico is our partner. It’s, you know, Mexico is a sovereign country, a proud country. They want to see if they can do it on their own. I foresee, you know, something awesome happening in the next, hopefully couple weeks or months. Maybe extradition of the high profile criminals or major arrests. There’s two drug traffickers out. We have two mega drug traffickers on the loose.

CAMEROTA: Time is of the essence. Thank you for being on “New Day.” Let’s go over to Chris.

CUOMO: President Obama is making passionate plea for criminal justice reform suggesting a slew of changes. Can the proposal pass congress? We’ll discuss

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