Digging a tunnel to escape confinement has probably been around since the first time a caveman was tossed in a pit for stealing an extra piece of dinosaur meat.
And there is a good chance his jailbreak was assisted by a friend or relative who smuggled him a woolly mammoth jawbone to use as a shovel and was waiting for him behind a tree with a clean bearskin to change his appearance.
Not much has changed since those days. Take for example the two convicts who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, in June 2015.
Tunnels under the prison
One of those guys sawed a hole in the back of his cell and gained access to the tunnels underneath the prison. He would go down there night after night planning his escape while the guards were sleeping and return to his cell in time for the morning headcount.
And this was a maximum security prison.
A prison employee provided the hacksaw blades and chisels that enabled the digger and his friend in a neighboring cell to break out of the prison and make a run for it. It didn’t end well for them. One was shot and killed, the other was captured.
The other jailbreak took place in Mexico where drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman exited a maximum security facility via a tunnel. His departure was caught on videotape.
Seven people who worked at the prison west of Mexico City have been charged with helping El Chapo escape through a hole under the shower in his cell that led to a long tunnel to freedom.
High-ranking political types
Not only does it appear that bribed or intimidated prison employees were involved, there are also suspicions that high-ranking political leaders in Mexico may also be involved in the plot.
This wasn’t the first time Shorty has crashed out of a maximum-security lockup. In 2001 Chapo rode to freedom in a laundry cart and avoided capture for 13 years.
As of this writing, El Chapo is still on the run and Mexican authorities are offering a $3.8 million reward for information leading to his apprehension.
Also working in Guzman’s favor is his status in Mexico as something of a folk hero. His daring escapades have earned him a legion of admirers. Adding to his popularity is the perception that El Chapo is somewhat less violent and brutal than other powerful cartel leaders.
Conclusion: If you are planning a jailbreak, it helps to have money, friends and a good set of tools.