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Mexican president: Drug lord Chapo Guzman re-arrested

A poster with the face of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, reading "Wanted, Again", is displayed at a newsstand in one Mexico City's major bus terminals on July 13, 2015. YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto wrote on his Twitter account that fugitive drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has been recaptured seven months after he escaped from a maximum security prison.

Pena Nieto wrote in his Twitter account on Friday: "mission accomplished: we have him."

Pena Nieto gave a brief live message Friday afternoon that focused heavily on touting the competency of his administration, which has suffered a series of embarrassments and scandals in the first half of his presidency.

"The arrest of today is very important for the government of Mexico. It shows that the public can have confidence in its institutions," Pena Nieto said. "Mexicans can count on a government decided and determined to build a better country."

In the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration hailed the capture as proof of the close relationship between the two countries. "The arrest is a significant achievement in our shared fight against transnational organized crime, violence, and drug trafficking," a DEA statement said.

The U.S. Justice Department commended the working relationship as well. "I salute the Mexican law enforcement and military personnel who have worked tirelessly in recent months to bring Guzman to justice," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said.

On its Twitter account, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration congratulated Mexico's government on nabbing Guzman, who escaped from a maximum-security prison six months ago, and said it salutes "the bravery involved in his capture."

After his first capture in Guatemala in June 1993, Guzman was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He reportedly made his 2001 escape from the maximum security prison in a laundry cart, though some have discounted that version.

His second escape last July was even more audacious. He slipped down a hole in his shower stall in plain view of guards into a mile-long tunnel dug from a property outside the prison. The tunnel had ventilation, lights and a motorbike on rails, illustrating the extent to which corruption was involved in covering up the elaborate operation.

Pena Nieto gave no details about the arrest in his televised speech, saying only that "careful and intensive intelligence work was carried out for months" leading up to the arrest.

The Mexican Navy said in a statement that marines raided the home after receiving a tip about armed men at the home. They were fired on from inside the structure, it said. Five suspects were killed and six others arrested. 

Marines seized two armored vehicles, eight rifles, one handgun and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher at the home, the statement added.

Some in Mexico had doubted Guzman would allow himself to be captured alive, and others doubted that Mexico's government — given the successive embarrassments of his two escapes from prison — would want to hold him again in a Mexican prison.

"Many people had doubted he could be recaptured," Mexican security analyst Raul Benitez said. "It is a big success for the government."

The United States filed requests for extradition for Guzman on June 25, before he escaped from prison. In September, a judge issued a second provisional arrest warrant on U.S. charges of organized crime, money laundering drug trafficking, homicide and others.

Former Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam had bragged earlier that Mexico wouldn't extradite Guzman until he had served his sentences in Mexico.

Benitez said such bragging "makes me ashamed."

"It would be better for the Americans to take him away," he said.

This story has been updated.