Despite being seen as an enemy by many around the world, Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman is the subject of many ballads and folk songs in his native Mexico. Called narco-ballads (narcocorrido), these songs are an entire sub-genre of Mexican folk music and have generally been around since the 1930’s!
At the height of his career, it is estimated that Guzman had a net worth of around $1 billion USD. Despite being a fraction of what Pablo Escobar was worth, Guzman is almost certainly one of the highest valued drug kingpins of all time.
When he was kicked out of his home as a teenager, Guzman decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and started his own marijuana plantation. El Chapo would continue to sell the drug in his later years, however, cocaine quickly became his main export.
In 2008, in a shopping center parking lot, Edgar Guzman, son of El Chapo, was gunned down by a reported 40 gunmen. Over a hundred bullet casings were found at the scene of the crime and it led El Chapo to take much more violent measures against rival gangs and cartels.
Before his imprisonment this year, El Chapo was Chicago’s Public Enemy #1. This was because it is believed that a large amount of the drugs which were plaguing Chicago’s streets were thought to have come from Guzman’s cartel.
Information leading to the capture of El Chapo was valued at an astonishing $5 million USD. Nobody received the award upon his capture but this was one of the highest ever bounties on a non-terror related suspect.
In order to smuggle drugs across the US/Mexico border, Guzman decided to build an air-conditioned underground tunnel system that burrowed underneath the border. This, perhaps ingenious, idea allowed Guzman and his men to smuggle drugs into the States with relative ease.
When El Chapo made the Forbes Rich List in 2009, Mexican authorities were outraged. He ranked as the 701st richest man in the world, yet outcry from Mexico led him to be removed from the list, with Forbes arguing over the legitimacy of his money.
Most criminals do well to escape from prison once, let alone twice, but this is exactly what El Chapo did. When he escaped for the first time, over 70 prison workers, including the warden, were arrested on charges of receiving bribery to release the drug trafficker.
In 2007, Guzman got married for the fourth time: to American beauty queen Emma Coronel. Coronel is the daughter of Ines Coronel, a notorious Mexican druglord who worked for the Sinaloa cartel, the same cartel that El Chapo was the head of.
There is much argument about whether or not Guzman was born on the 25th December 1954 or the 4th of April 1957. Official records list both as his date of birth but there is no confirmation about which one is true.
Before the soccer club was purchased by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, it is reported that Guzman was very interested as well. It is unknown, however, as to whether or not El Chapo made a bid for the British team but the results certainly would have been interesting.
Because he left home at an early age, and grew up in a poor region of Mexico, Guzman didn’t really have any proper education. Some reports say he was illiterate for a large period of his life.
When Emma Coronel was pregnant with Guzman’s children, she, due to her American citizenship, was allowed to have her children in the United States, giving her children American citizenship too. This would be useful for Guzman and the cartel, should his children choose to follow in their father’s footsteps like a majority of the kingpin’s others did also.
When imprisoned for the first time, it is said that El Chapo entered a relationship with a former Mexican policewoman, who was imprisoned due to her involvement in the drug trade, called Zulema Hernandez. It is said that they bonded due to both being from Sinaloa and their outrage over the poverty that plagued the area.
Similarly to how Pablo Escobar was known as Robin Hood in Colombia, El Chapo is known as a hero of the people in Mexico. He has reinvested a lot of the money he made into improving the local community and some of the Mexican population adore him for this.
In January 2017, Guzman was officially extradited to the USA, where he would face trial on counts of murder and drug-related crimes, as well as many others. His trial will be held in April 2018, which many are coming to call the drug trial of the century.
El Chapo literally translates to ‘shorty’ from Spanish slang and this became Guzman’s nickname because he was just 5ft6 (or 167cm). A very short man with big criminal ambitions!
In 1993, Cardinal Posadas, of the see of Guadalajara, was assassinated by a rival cartel to Guzman’s, after they mistook him for the drug lord. He was inside his car in the parking lot of Guadalajara international airport when he was caught in a shootout, losing his life.
It is reported that once, at the Las Palmas restaurant in Mexico, Guzman entered, had his bodyguards lock the doors behind him and sat down to eat. His men instructed all the other patrons at the restaurant that all they need to do is ‘remain calm’ and ‘don’t ask for the check’ – Guzman picked up the tab for all the diners who were sat down to eat.
Guzman is a frequent user of Twitter, and has been known in the past to mock those who have hunted him down. Most notably, he launched an aggressive tweet at President Donald Trump, in which he used several spanish profanities, insulting the businessman and politician.