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Story highlights

NEW: Mexico's attorney general announces first arrests in connection with "El Chapo" escape

Drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman escaped from Mexican prison on July 11

Investigators are trying to determine if guards' response time contributed to escape

CNN —  

Seven people who worked in the maximum-security prison that held Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman have been charged in connection with his escape, Mexico’s attorney general said Friday in a statement.

The prison workers will be jailed in the state of Guanajuato and the investigation continues, the statement said.

On Thursday, Mexico’s interior minister said that on the night Guzman escaped, it took 18 minutes for guards to arrive at his cell after they lost sight of him on surveillance video.

Investigators are trying to determine whether the guards’ response time contributed to his July 11 escape from the facility west of Mexico City.

“That is part of what the attorney general’s office is looking at – if the protocols were fulfilled in the correct times,” Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said at a news conference.

Guzman, Mexico’s most notorious drug lord, slipped through a hole under the shower in his cell and escaped through a mile-long tunnel to freedom, authorities said.

’El Chapo’ escape shines spotlight on corruption in Mexico

Guzman’s cell was videotaped 24 hours a day. But the surveillance had two blind spots for privacy – the toilet and the shower.

Closed-circuit video from July 11 shows him going to the shower fully clothed twice and bending down behind a wall. After the second time, he never resurfaced in the cell.

It’s likely prison workers helped Guzman break out, the interior minister said this week. Osorio Chong said he has already fired the prison director and other prison officials.

Mexican authorities announced a $3.8 million reward for information leading to Guzman’s capture.

Nicknamed “Shorty” for his height, Guzman already had pulled off one elaborate escape from a maximum-security prison. In 2001, he managed to break free while reportedly hiding in a laundry cart. It took authorities 13 years to catch him – closing in as he was sleeping at a Mexican beach resort.

Opinion: How the system is rigged for El Chapo

CNN’s Alexander Hunter in Mexico City, Rey Rodriguez, Brian Todd and Nick Valencia contributed to this report.