Infamous drug kingpin ‘El Chapo’ goes on trial this week, but his multi-billion dollar empire continues under his sons reports claim.
But who is ‘El Chapo?’ Born in Badiraguato, Mexico, Joaquín Guzmán Loera was born in 1957. Nicknamed ‘Shorty’ for his 5’6” height, ‘El Chapo’ entered the criminal life and drug trading business as an adolescent. In 1989, at the age of 32, he founded the Sinaloa Cartel. Over time, his operations have expanded into an tremendously successful and profitable drug-trafficking monopoly. According to reports, his cartel was expected to be pulling in about $20 billion a year.
As the face of the Sinaloa Cartel, Guzmán has quickly risen as one of the most notorious and popular crime figures of all time. He has daringly pulled off escapes from multiple maximum-security prisons throughout his career. One of the most prominent cases being in July of 2015 when ‘El Chapo’ successfully fled from the Altiplano Federal Prison after shimmying through a ventilation tunnel. Following a massive manhunt, he was recaptured in January of the 2016 and remains in custody.
As Joaquín Guzmán Loera’s trial approaches, a letter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated “The defendant’s sons remain in charge of his vast drug trafficking empire.”
Even though ‘El Chapo’ himself has been in custody for the past two years or so, his Mexican cartel’s empire has not wavered in his absence. The Sinaloa Cartel remains powerful and well-managed, with Guzmán’s two sons reportedly now running the operation. Brothers Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, have apparently taken control and are still extremely dangerous, according to the judge who is trying their father.
Multiple ex-agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have stated that the duo have committed horrendous acts of violence, including ambushing military personnel. As of right now Alfredo has a $5 million bounty on his head regarding any information to his capture, and is on the DEA’s 10 Most Wanted List. The two even felt so untouchable that until recently they’d flaunt their wealth on social media, bragging online by showcasing their wild parties and luxurious items.
This high profile trial has drawn a lot of attention, as the world watches what the fate of ‘El Chapo’ may be. This of course, comes alongside with just concern. According to various sources, the courthouse itself has been fortified. On top of this, during pre-trial hearings, heavily armed officers and patrolman stood present alongside bomb sniffing dogs. Regular monitoring occurred as law enforcement combed the building for any threats.
In February, the judge ruling over the case has agreed with prosecutors’ requests and deemed to keep the jury members anonymous for their own safety. The judge then referenced how the Sinaloa Cartel commonly hires hit men which “carried out hundreds of acts of violence, including murders, assaults and kidnappings.”
Judge Brian Cogan was warned that “There is no doubt that the defendant and his cartel have the capability, the resources and the will to harm cooperation witnesses and their families, even after they have been relocated.”
Works Cited: CBSNews.com, CNN.com, Biography.com