Unconfirmed reports that Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was killed earlier this week in a rural area in northern Guatemala are being disputed by officials in the Central American country.
Guzman, 55, heads the infamous Sinaloa cartel – Mexico’s most powerful international drug-trafficking network – and rumors had him being killed in a shootout near San Valentin, a small town near the Mexican border.
The rumor is false, Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla told local reporters, adding it stemmed from misleading accounts from San Valentin residents.
Authorities scanning the area haven't found Guzman's body or any signs that a large-scale confrontation occurred, The Associated Press reported.
"I apologize if there was a misunderstanding," Lopez told the Guatemalan radio station Emisores Unidos. "It was a mix-up. We were referring to information generated from the area that there was possibly a crime scene with a dead person resembling El Chapo."
Lopez initially told reporters that local authorities were investigating whether Guzman was one of two individuals killed in the remote area, but later he backed off the statement, claiming that he was basing his remarks on reports from local villagers.
Lopez didn't say what caused officials to investigate whether the dead men was Guzman, the AP reported.
Guzman has been in hiding since 2001 after escaping from a Mexican prison through a laundry cart.
In addition to being one of the world's most wanted fugitives, Guzman is among the world's wealthiest men
, worth an estimated $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
Guzman was reportedly the first to use airplanes to smuggle cocaine to the U.S.
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