5 things to know about Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, the notorious Mexican drug kingpin

A jury has convicted Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, one of the most infamous and elusive drug kingpins in history.

Here’s what you need to know about El Chapo, who was found guilty in New York on 10 federal charges, The Associated Press reported.

He led the multi-billion-dollar Sinaloa Cartel

Guzman led the Sinaloa drug cartel, named for the Mexican state where its founders lived. Later, under Guzman’s brutal leadership, the Sinaloa cartel spread its sphere of influence to include the neighboring states of Durango and Chihuahua as well, according to testimony during El Chapo’s trial, CBS News reported.

This area of Mexico became known as the Golden Triangle, the Washington Post reported, known for its marijuana smuggling routes into the U.S. before heroin, meth and fentanyl took over the drug trade.

El Chapo has long maintained that Ismail ‘El Mayo’ Zambada is and was the true head of the Sinaloa cartel, according to Insider.

He twice escaped prison

In 2015, El Chapo escaped Altiplano Federal Prison, a maximum-security prison in Mexico, through a tunnel in a shower, according to CNN. He had been arrested in 2014 after escaping the Puente Grande prison in 2001 — when he hid in a laundry cart, according to the BBC.

He was again arrested in January 2016 and sent to the U.S. for trial the following January.

El Chapo also “claimed in 2014 that he has killed 2,000-3,000 people,” according to CNN, and “is known for using intricate tunnel systems for both evading authorities and moving the massive quantities of drugs that made the Sinaloa Cartel so powerful.”

He smuggled tons of cocaine into the U.S.

It’s estimated that about 500 tons of cocaine in the U.S. was smuggled into the country with the help of El Chapo’s cartel, according to The New York Times.

He’s been called one of the most powerful people in the world.

Forbes called El Chapo the 67th most powerful person in the world in 2013 — and the “world’s most powerful drug trafficker.”

Cartel rivals

After El Chapo’s arrest in 2016, the Sinaloa cartel splintered into factions, the BBC reported, further muddying the landscape of which cartels were allied, and which were tangled in bloody turf wars with the others.

According to later reporting by the BBC, a more current map of cartels still operating in Mexico still includes the remnants of the Sinaloa cartel, as well as the Jalisco New Generation cartel, the Zetas to the east, the Gulf cartel occupying space along the Texas border, the Tijuana cartel near the Mexico-California border, the Beltran-Leyva Organisacion, La Familia Michoacana and the Juarez cartel.

El Chapo “faced a drumbeat of drug-trafficking and conspiracy convictions that could put the 61-year-old escape artist behind bars for decades in a maximum-security U.S. prison selected to thwart another one of the breakouts that embarrassed his native country,” the AP reported.

Real-Time reporter Josh Magness covers breaking national news and trending news to keep readers of McClatchy’s newspapers up to date with the latest high-profile stories. He previously interned at McClatchy’s bureau in Washington, D.C, while covering the U.S. Congress.
Matt is an award-winning real time reporter and a University of Texas at Austin graduate who’s been based at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 2011. His regional focus is Texas, and that makes sense. He’s only lived there his whole life.