He is the top dog in Mexico’s bloody drug war, presiding over a $1billion drug empire and acused of firing the first shot in a bloody cartel war that has so far killed 38,000 people.
And now, aside from a personal fortune to rival Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, Joaquin Guzman Loera has a new reason to boast – he is the world’s most wanted man.
The death of Osama Bin Laden has pushed the notorious drug baron to the top of a list of international criminals compiled by international law enforcement officials and Forbes.
Like the 9/11 Mastermind, Loera has been the subject of a vast manhunt for the last ten years after he escaped from a Mexican high security prison in a complex break out that reportedly cost him £2.5million.
Since then the drug lord known as ‘El Chapo’ becaus eof his 5ft 2in height has eluded capture, protected by his vast Sinaloa drugs cartel and no doubt a legion of corrupt officials paid from his vast wealth.
He has attained almost mythical status in Mexico vast drugs operation that runs shipments of tons at a time from Columbia into Mexico and on to the United States.
But such a lucrative operation will always attract competition and Loera is arguably responsible for more deaths than Bin Laden as his henchmen fight other cartels for control of lucrative transportation corridors into the US.
He is accused of starting Mexico’s cartel wars when his hitmen assassinated the leader of the Juarez cartel and his wife in 2004 in a bid to take control of the city of Cidudad Juarez, breaking the pact of non-aggression that had previously existed.
As tit for tat fighting escalated, government troops were sent into drug strongholds in 2006 marking the start of a conflict between that has so far claimed 38,000 lives.
Loera has been the number one drugs kingpin since the arrest of Osiel Cárdenas, head of the Gulf cartel in 2010.
He first rose to prominence as the head of logistics for the Sinaloa cartel Salazar in the 1980s, coordinating flights boat shipments and truck journeys from Colombia into Mexico.
Once his mentor was captured he took control of the entire cartel, before he himself was captured in 1993.
But he escaped in 2001 when a prison guard opened his door and wheeled him out of the maximum security La Palma prison in a laundry basket.
More than 70 people were arrested over the subsequent escape plan that is thought to have cost Loera $2.5million and allegedly involved the local police giving him 24 hours to get away before the military moved in.
He has evaded capture since, despite a series of narrow misses when the authorities were hours or minutes from catching him.
One of the most chilling incidents was in 2009 , when an Archbishop in the state of Durango said that the fugitive was ‘living nearby and everyone knows it except the authorities, who just don’t happen to see him for some reason.’
Days later two undercover military officers were shot dead in their car, their bodies left with a note that read: ‘You’ll never get ‘El Chapo’, not the priests, not the government.’
Now El Chapo is said to have infiltrated the highest level of Mexico’s government as President Felipe Calderon fights to keep control of his country amid claims that it is drug lords such as El Chapo who are really in charge.
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