Convict / Drug Lord
Date Of Birth:
4 April 1957
Place Of Birth:
La Tuna de Badiraguato, Sinaloa, Mexico
Best Known As:
The Mexican drug kingpin known as "El Chapo"
Name at birth: Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman LoeraJoaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera was one of the richest and most feared drug lords in the world when he was captured in Mexico in 2014, escaped from prison in 2015, and then was recaptured in 2016. Nicknamed "El Chapo" (or "Shorty"), Joaquín Guzmán is the longtime head of the Sinaloa drug cartel. He was born in the mountain village of La Tuna de Badiraguato, and he followed his father into the illicit drug industry there. Guzmán went from growing marijuana to running drugs for drug lord Hector Luis Palma Salazar in his 20s. Guzmán stood only 5'6" (hence the nickname) but his ruthless efficiency pushed him up through the ranks of the drug trade. He spent time as a lieutentant to a Guadalajara drug lord, Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, and when Gallardo was arrested in the 1980s, Guzmán became head of his own organization. Over the next two decades he built the operation into the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, and became known for his twin habits of killing rivals and building elaborate drug tunnels into the United States. His rise was halted only briefly by his arrest in 1993 on charges of murder and drug trafficking; he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but escaped in 2001 by hiding in a laundry cart, allegedly with the help of bribed prison guards. He picked up where he left off, sending tons of cocaine into the United States by ship, plane and tunnel and amassing a fortune so great that Forbes put him on its list of the world's billionaires and at #67 on its 2013 list of the world's most powerful people, one slot below Speaker of the House John Boehner. (The Sinaloa cartel "is responsible for half of all the illegal drugs smuggled into the United States," Vocativ.com reported in 2013.) El Chapo was captured on February 22, 2014, when Mexican marines aided by American drug agents swooped into an apartment where he was sleeping in the resort town of Mazatlan, Mexico. It didn't last: In July of 2015 he escaped from Altiplano prison in Mexico, dropping through a hole carved into his shower and disappearing through an elaborate and lengthy tunnel. Although the escape was humiliating to Mexican authorities, El Chapo was recaptured in January of 2016 after a shootout in the city of Los Mochis.
Joaquín Guzmán did not escape from prison two weeks after his 2014 capture; that report was an Internet hoax. But he did then escape the following year… Although the birth date of Joaquín Guzmán is disputed, Who2 takes the date of April 4, 1957 from the 2010 biography The Last Narco: Inside the Hunt for El Chapo, the World’s Most Wanted Drug Lord by Malcolm Beith. The U.S. Department of State, however, has listed his date of birth as December 25, 1954. The State Department also lists him as 5’8″, not 5’6″ tall.