The road to El Chapo

Classical Mechanics Level 5

Recently, El Chapo, the leader of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, was in the news for his incredible escape from the high security Altiplano prison. Over the course of months, members of his cartel dug a tunnel 30 ft underground from a decoy warehouse to the space directly below the shower of his prison cell, almost one mile in length!

To dig such a tunnel, one must remove dirt as one goes along, and bring it back outside of the tunnel. To accomplish this engineering feat, the workers made a rail system with a modified motorcycle which could hold approximately \(0.5\ \text{m}^3\) of dirt per trip. If the rail bike moves at 5 m/s, and it takes the workers 30 min to remove dirt and fill it into the railbike, how long (in days) would it take them to dig the tunnel?


  • The tunnel is 1500 m long, by 1.7 m tall, by 0.75 m wide.
  • The workers are active 24 hrs per day, every day, until the tunnel is finished.
  • The workers extend the track as they go, and this takes a negligible amount of time.

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