By Hugh Bronstein
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina was on high alert after getting a tip that escaped Mexican drug boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman may be somewhere along the country's mountainous southern border with Chile, Argentine Security Secretary Sergio Berni said on Friday.
Guzman, the world's most wanted drug trafficker, escaped in July from a Mexican maximum-security prison through a mile-long tunnel that surfaced right inside his cell, in a major embarrassment for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
There is a massive manhunt on in Mexico for El Chapo, aka "Shorty", head of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel which has smuggled billions of dollars worth of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines into the United States and fought vicious turf wars with other Mexican gangs.
"We received information that El Chapo tried to cross the Chilean/Argentine border," in the southern region of Patagonia, Berni told reporters.
"In line with protocol, we have activated all security mechanisms and have put the men and women of our federal forces in Patagonia on maximum alert," Berni said.
An official source in Chile, who asked not to be named, told Reuters that "since mid-day the government has been receiving and collecting information on the matter."
In August, the acting head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said the U.S. government believed Guzman was still in Mexico.
Guzman narrowly evaded security forces searching for him in the northwest of Mexico in October, sustaining injuries to his face and leg, the Mexican government said last month.
His brazen escape piled pressure on Pena Nieto to root out corruption, at a time when the Mexican leader is grappling with conflict of interest scandals plaguing him, his wife and his finance minister.
(Additional reporting by Anthony Esposito in Santiago; editing by Simon Gardner and Christian Plumb)