By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Weds. Jan. 13, 2016: As news over the capture of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán and Sean Penn’s article on him continues to dominate the headlines and the Mexican government confirmed it will proceed with extraditing the known drug lord to the U.S., here are 10 things about Guzman you may not know:
1: Guzmán’s real name is Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera. “El Chapo” is a nick name he earned in the streets in his adolescence. It is Spanish slang for “Shorty,” a reference to Guzman’s 5 ft 6″ height.
2: Guzmán’s net worth is put past US$1 billion according to a Forbes Magazine’s 2011 report. He is the 10th richest man in Mexico and the second most powerful – after Carlos Slim. Not bad for a boy who was born into poverty in the rural community of La Tuna, Badiraguato, Sinaloa.
3: El Chapo’s parents were Emilio Guzmán Bustillos and María Consuelo Loera Pérez. His father was officially a cattle rancher and according to some sources, he may have possibly also been an opium poppy farmer. Guzmán has two younger sisters, Armida and Bernarda, and four younger brothers: Miguel Ángel, Aureliano, Arturo and Emilio. He had three unnamed older brothers who reportedly died of natural causes when he was very young.
4: Guzmán dropped out of school in third grade to work with his father. He sold oranges to help out and had to deal with regular beatings from his father which reportedly included standing up to his dad to protect his younger siblings from being beaten. Guzmán was taught by traveling teachers during his early years, just like the rest of his brothers but soon turned to the cultivation of opium poppy. At the age of 15, he reportedly cultivated his own marijuana plantation with four distant cousins – Arturo, Alfredo, Carlos, and Héctor and helped support his family financially.
5: Guzmán’s uncle Pedro Avilés Pérez was one of the pioneers of Mexican drug trafficking. The young El Chapo left Badiraguato, Mexico in his 20s and joined organized crime.
6: In the 1970s, Guzmán first worked for the drug lord Héctor “El Güero” Palma by transporting drugs and overseeing their shipments from the Sierra Madre region to urban areas near the U.S.-Mexico border by aircraft. During this time, reports are that Guzmán would simply kill any cheating smuggler himself by shooting them in the head, letting those around him learn that cheating him or going with other competitors was “inconvenient.”
7: The leaders of the Guadalajara Cartel liked Guzmán’s business acumen, and in the early 1980s, they introduced him to Félix Gallardo, one of the major drug lords in Mexico at that time. Guzmán became Gallardo’s chauffeur before he was put in charge of logistics and coordinating drug shipments from Colombia to Mexico by land, air, and sea. He was specifically in charge of the drug corridors of Tecate, Baja California, and Mexicali and San Luis Río Colorado, two border crossings that connect the states of Sonora and Baja California with the U.S. states of Arizona and California. He pioneered the tunnels as a means of trafficking drugs in and out of the US and packed cocaine into chili pepper cans under the brand “La Comadre.”
8: Guzman let people he trusted purchase properties for him and registered them under false names. These included several ranches across Mexico especially in the states of Sinaloa, Durango, Chihuahua, and Sonora, where locals working for the drug lord grew opium and marijuana. He only came to the attention of the US government in 1987 when several protected witnesses testified in a U.S. court that Guzmán was in fact heading the Sinaloa Cartel. El Chapo has claimed to have directly or indirectly caused the deaths of thousands of people. He was jailed in 2001 but managed to escape — possibly with the help of paid off guards — through either a laundry cart or dressing as a woman. After 13 years on the lam he was finally arrested in Feb. 2014 but managed to break out of a maximum security prison in July 2015, through a secret shower hatch that led to a 1-mile tunnel that had been built leading from his cell to a piece of property outside of the prison grounds. It was complete with lighting, ventilation ducts, and a waiting motorcycle to take him the distance.
9: Guzman was reportedly married four times. He first got married for the first time in 1977 to Alejandrina María Salazar Hernández. She is the mother of his three eldest children: César, Iván Archivaldo and Jesús Alfredo. He then got married in 1980 to Griselda López Pérez with whom he fathered four children: Édgar, Joaquín, Ovidio and Griselda Guadalupe. Lopez Perez was arrested in May 2010, by Mexican authorities in Culiacan, Sinaloa, during a search of property owned by her husband, hours later she was released. Today she is designated on the U.S. list of most wanted drug traffickers.
His third wife was Estela Pena, a bank employee in Nayarit when she was conquered at all costs by the Mexican drug lord at age 30. At first the woman refused “Chapo,” but finally chose to marry him after being abducted. Then at age 60, Guzman got married to his current wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, a former beauty queen and American citizen. She gave birth to twin girls in a Los Angeles hospital for the drug lord. In his generosity with the woman he pursues he has given them diamonds, cars and cash.
10: His two sons, Alfredo Guzman and Iván Archivaldo Guzman, have reportedly posted threatening messages on Twitter that contain profanity and insults aimed at the Mexican government, including President Enrique Pena Nieto following their father’s recapture on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. Iván Archivaldo Guzman is reportedly the person who will take the helm of the empire now that the senior Guzman is in jail. Guzman was tracked to his house in Los Mochis early Friday morning but then fled through a secret door concealed by a mirror. He hid in a tunnel, until rainwater forced him out. He then stole a car, before finally being arrested. Tanks now surround the maximum security prison where Guzman is being held – the same one he escaped from in July. His extradition process could take at least a year.