Life in the Slow Lane: Wealthy Drug Lord 'El Chapo' Stole Clunker for Getaway Car

A journalist takes photos of one of the cars used by drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to escape before he was recaptured inside a car impound lot in Los Mochis, in Sinaloa state, Mexico, January 12. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

LOS MOCHIS, Mexico (Reuters) - Immensely rich from flooding the United States with cocaine, Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman could afford the fastest cars on earth - but in an ironic twist of fate, the one he hijacked as he tried to avoid recapture was a clunker.

Guzman and a top henchman stole a white Volkswagen Jetta at gunpoint as they emerged from a drainage tunnel on Friday after crawling a mile through an underground drain from a house they were using. Mexican marines had raided the house.

With 113,218 miles (182,208 km) on its odometer, the grubby car was well past its prime. The seats were torn and the leather steering wheel cover was peeling off. A local mechanic said on Tuesday the owner of the vehicle said the transmission was damaged.

Guzman ditched the car after driving around a mile, and stole a second vehicle, a red Ford Focus. After stealing that car, witnesses said, he obeyed the rules of the road and waited at a stop light for around two minutes.

"They respected the law," said Karim Barajas, 42, who works at a car repair shop opposite where Guzman dumped the first car and took the second. "They set off normally, nice and slow."

The capo, who is now back in the same maximum security prison he escaped from six months ago, almost got away.

Federal police chasing reports of stolen cars had no idea they were onto the world's most wanted drug lord.

"No-one knew who was in the cars," said local police chief Gerardo Amarillas.