Mexico City: Mexican prosecutors investigating the escape of drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman formally placed 22 prison officials in custody on Tuesday over suspicions that the infamous fugitive had inside help.
While a massive manhunt for Guzman entered its third full day, the attorney general`s office released 12 of 34 prison staff members who had been questioned since Sunday.
Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said Monday that Guzman "must have" had help from prison officials in his brazen escape on Saturday.
The episode saw Guzman slip out of his cell through a 1.5-kilometer (one-mile) tunnel dug under his private shower in the Altiplano maximum-security prison, some 90 kilometers west of Mexico City.
"There are 22 people who arrived as witnesses and their legal situation has changed to detainees. This means (prosecutors) presume that there was some sort of participation" in the escape, said an official in the attorney general`s office.
Authorities now have 96 hours to either charge or release them.
The official refused to say whether the prison`s director, who was fired on Monday, was among those released or kept in custody.
Prosecutors have also questioned two of Guzman`s lawyers and the owner of the property where the drug lord`s tunnel ended.
The escape marks the second time since 2001 that Guzman managed to flee a maximum-security prison, dealing a humiliating setback to President Enrique Pena Nieto, just 17 months after his much-celebrated capture.