Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman: Five facts about Mexico’s fallen kingpin

el chapo
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is one of Mexico’s most notorious drug kingpins.
Credit: Reuters

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, one of Mexico’s most notorious drug kingpins, was captured on Saturday in the northwestern state of Sinaloa in Mexico with the help of U.S. agencies. Guzman, 56, was the head of Mexico’s infamous Sinaloa Cartel. Here’s what you need to know about the man who was Mexico’s most wanted billionaire, otherwise known as “El Chapo,” or “Shorty” in English.

1. His cartel was the number one supplier of illegal drugs to the U.S.: Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel has smuggled billions of dollars worth of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines into the U.S. Tens of thousands of people were killed during turf wars between the cartel and other Mexican gangs, reports Reuters. Guzman was known to hold great influence with corrupt Mexican officials, whom he bribed into shielding his underground network.

2. He had at least 43 vehicles, 16 houses and four ranches: Nineteen of the vehicles are armored. Authorities have also seized 97 long arms, 36 handguns, two grenade launchers and one rocket launchers, according to Forbes.

3. He may have escaped prison in a laundry cart: Guzman escaped prison in 2001 and has not been seen in public since. Many people believe he escaped prison in a laundry cart, reports the New York Times.

4. He is a self-made man: Guzman was born into a poor family in the foothills of the Sierra Madre in Sinaloa State and is an elementary school dropout. He started smuggling drugs in the late 1980s and became successful during the cocaine boom in the United States. He started forming his own cartel in 1989, reports the New York Times.

5. He hid in sewers: Though Guzman was on the Forbes World’s Billionaire list until 2013 and is frequently on the Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful People list, he still had to hide in sewers and tunnels before he was captured, reports Forbes. The Mexican Attorney General said that officials received a tip that Guzman was living in seven homes connected by tunnels and sewers. Mexican news outlets published photos of the country’s Marines lifting sewer covers to look for him.

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark


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