MEXICO CITY — Stripped to his undershirt and covered in filth, the world’s most notorious drug lord dragged himself out of the sewers and into the middle of traffic.
Disoriented from his long trudge underground, with gun-toting marines on his heels, he found himself standing across the street from a Walmart. Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the kingpin known across the globe as El Chapo, would have to improvise. His cavalry was not coming.
He and his top lieutenant commandeered a white Volkswagen from a passing motorist, but only a few blocks later, the car became engulfed in smoke, witnesses said. Desperate for another vehicle, the two men spotted a red Ford Focus at a traffic light, driven by a woman with her daughter and 5-year-old grandson.
“Get out of the car now,” said the lieutenant, his weapon trained on the woman as he lifted the door handle, witnesses said. She complied, prying the child from the back seat and leaving her belongings in the car. Politely, the lieutenant handed over her purse before speeding off.