The rise and fall of ‘El Chapo,’ Mexico’s most wanted kingpin

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By Dave Graham

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is Mexico’s most infamous kingpin who shipped tonnes of medication world wide, escaped two maximum-security jails and have become one of many world’s most-wanted fugitives.

He now faces the prospect of life in jail.

Jurors on Monday will start deliberations on 10 prison counts going through Guzman, 61, within the trial that started in November in New York.

The audacious exploits of El Chapo, or Shorty, captured the world’s creativeness and turned him right into a people hero for some in Mexico, regardless of the hundreds of individuals killed by his brutal Sinaloa cartel.

Past placing Guzman’s private life and drug dealings on public show, the case has additionally highlighted Mexico’s long-time struggle to deliver down its chief adversary within the bloody struggle on drug trafficking.

In January 2016, after some three a long time operating medication, Guzman was caught in his native northwestern state of Sinaloa.

Six months earlier, he had humiliated Mexico’s then-president, Enrique Pena Nieto, by escaping from jail by means of a mile-long tunnel dug straight into his cell – his second time escaping a Mexican jail.

Simply days after his 2016 seize, Guzman’s larger-than-life status was sealed when U.S. film star Sean Penn revealed a prolonged account of an interview he performed with the drug lord, which the Mexican authorities stated was “important” to his seize a couple of months later.

“I provide extra heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anyone else on the planet. I’ve a fleet of submarines, airplanes, vans and boats,” Penn stated Guzman instructed him on the drug lord’s mountain hideout.

Mexico’s authorities extradited Guzman in January 2017, a day earlier than Donald Trump took workplace as U.S. president on vows to tighten border safety to halt immigration and drug smuggling.

Guzman’s legendary status within the Mexican underworld started to take form when he staged his first jailbreak in 2001 by bribing jail guards, earlier than happening to dominate drug trafficking alongside a lot of the Rio Grande.

Nonetheless, many in cities throughout Mexico keep in mind Guzman higher for his squads of hitmen who dedicated hundreds of murders, kidnappings and decapitations.

Violence started to surge in 2006 as the federal government launched a struggle on drug trafficking that precipitated prison teams to splinter and killings to spiral.

Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel went on smuggling a whole lot of tons of cocaine, marijuana, and crystal meth throughout Mexico’s border with the USA.

In February 2013, the Chicago Crime Fee dubbed him town’s first Public Enemy No.1 since Al Capone.

ELUSIVE KINGPIN

Safety consultants concede the 5 foot 6 inch gangster was distinctive at what he did, managing to outmaneuver, outfight or outbribe his rivals to remain on the high of the drug commerce for over a decade.

Rising by means of the ranks of the drug world, Guzman fastidiously noticed his mentors’ ways and errors, forging alliances that saved him one step forward of the legislation for years.

Mexican troopers and U.S. brokers got here near Guzman on a number of events however his layers of physique guards and spies at all times tipped him off earlier than they stormed his protected homes.

In making ready for a raid in 2014, U.S. officers restricted info to a small group for worry of corruption amongst Mexican legislation enforcement, DEA agent Victor Vasquez testified in Guzman’s trial.

SINALOA ROOTS

Guzman was born in La Tuna, a village within the Sierra Madre mountains in Sinaloa state the place smugglers have been rising opium and marijuana for the reason that early twentieth century.

He ascended within the 1980s working with Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, alias “The Boss of Bosses,” who pioneered cocaine smuggling routes into the USA.

The aspiring capo got here to prominence in 1993 when assassins who shot lifeless Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas claimed that they had truly been aiming at Guzman.

Two weeks later, police arrested him in Guatemala and extradited him to Mexico. Throughout his eight-year jail keep, Guzman smuggled in lovers, prostitutes and Viagra, based on accounts revealed within the Mexican media.

After escaping, Guzman expanded his turf by sending in murderer squads with names equivalent to “The Ghosts” and “The Zeta Killers,” in reference to the rival Zetas gang.

Guzman hid close to his childhood residence, brokers stated, however rumors abounded of him visiting costly eating places and paying for all of the diners.

In 2007, Guzman married an 18-year-old magnificence queen in an ostentatious ceremony in a village in Durango state.

The state’s archbishop subsequently precipitated a media storm when he stated that “everybody, besides the authorities,” knew Guzman was residing there. Guzman’s bride, Emma Coronel, gave start to twins in Los Angeles in 2011. She attended almost day by day of her husband’s trial, at one level donning a crimson blazer that matched his personal.

WAGING WAR

Between 2004 and 2013, Guzman’s gangs fought in all main Mexican cities on the U.S. border, turning Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo into among the world’s most harmful locations.

In a single such assault, 14 our bodies had been left mutilated underneath a notice that learn, “Remember that I’m your actual daddy,” signed by “El Chapo.”

Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel usually clashed with the Zetas, a gang based by former Mexican troopers, arming its crew with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine weapons.

In 2008, hitmen working for a rival murdered Guzman’s son Edgar, a 22-year-old pupil. Guzman reportedly left 50,000 flowers at his son’s grave.

Within the 1990s, Guzman grew to become notorious for hiding seven tons of cocaine in cans of chili peppers. Within the following decade, his crew took medication in tractor trailers to main U.S. cities together with Phoenix, Los Angeles and Chicago, indictments say.

Forbes journal put the kingpin’s wealth at $1 billion, although investigators say it’s not possible to know precisely how a lot he was price.

(Reporting by Dave Graham and Mexico Metropolis Newsroom; Modifying by Daina Beth Solomon and Alistair Bell)

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