He might be short in stature but he has an international reputation that is larger than life, one that became even larger since his weekend escape from Mexico’s most formidable prison.
Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, who fled through a tunnel from the Altiplano federal penitentiary Saturday, was born either in 1954 or 1957 in La Tuna, a small village in the municipality of Badiraguato, Sinaloa. His father was a farmer and he initially followed suit, leaving school after just three years, but soon turned to crime.
He got his start in drug trafficking with the Guadalajara cartel where he rose rapidly in the hierarchy as an unscrupulous entrepreneur and a skilled negotiator with politicians and police.
After cartel leader Miguel Angel Gallardo was arrested in 1989, the gang split in two: the Tijuana Cartel under the Arellano Félix brothers and the Sinaloa Cartel under Guzmán and two others. Five years later, in 1995, Guzmán assumed control.
At that point it began a war against other criminal organizations to control drug routes into the United States, such as the Juárez Cartel, which controlled traffic in Chihuahua and Durango, and the Tijuana Cartel. At the same time it made alliances with the Caballeros Templarios and the Gulf Cartel.
Nicknamed “El Chapo,” or “Shorty,” for his short stature (he is 1.68 meters tall) the cartel boss has built an organization whose reach extends beyond North America, into Europe and Australia.
It has been dedicated to the trafficking of heroin, marijuana, cocaine and synthetic drugs.
Forbes magazine has consistently ranked Guzmán as one of the most powerful people in the world and in 2011 estimated his net worth at US $1 billion, while Time magazine has pronounced him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Forbes has also called him the biggest drug lord of all time, a description that appears to be supported by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which considers him “the godfather of the drug world” and believes he has passed former Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, “King of Cocaine,” in terms of power.
Guzmán was captured in Guatemala in 1993 and escaped eight years later from the federal penitentiary in Jalisco, supposedly hidden inside a laundry cart. He was recaptured in Mazatlán in February 2014.
Guzmán has been married three times and has nine children.
Some are active on social media, including Twitter. One son tweeted a promise in May that “the general” would soon be back and yesterday the cartel boss himself appeared to have found refuge in a place with an Internet connection, sending tweets from an account in his own name: “There is no jail for a short guy as big as me” and “In this life, he who risks nothing doesn’t win.”
Source: Milenio (sp)