The USA has been the main destination for illicit drugs from all over the world, creating more demand in one country than seen in some continents. Many criminal organizations have capitalized on the high demand for drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamines. These groups use Mexico as a trafficking point to funnel drugs through the USA, thus allowing many cartels to gain wealth and power in Mexico. The Sinaloa Cartel is one of many cartels in Mexico participating in the drug trade. However, this organization has a history of being one of the most consistent and powerful organizations due to the leadership of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman over a period of almost two decades. Although he was recently captured, “El Chapo” (a nickname which means stocky, compact, and powerful) has been known since the early 1990s for his many brazen actions.
Mexico has become the gateway country for smuggling drugs into the USA. It’s also home to the most violent and active drug organizations. The Sinaloa cartel became a leading cartel and Guzman has been in charge since the early 2000s. Guzman’s life and role in drug trafficking is given in detail in this article titled Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman: The Rise and Fall of Mexico’s Drug Lord. The article provides information on how Guzman rose through the ranks from his local operation of growing marijuana in the 1970s to international drug lord.
While still in his twenties Guzman was placed in charge of trafficking drugs to key cities before they would be smuggled across the border for the local drug lord. Guzman kept moving up the ranks and by the mid-1980s he was part of the Guadalajara cartel working as a lieutenant in the cartel, but he avoided the flashy lifestyle that others around him emulated. Former DEA agent Edward Heath spoke about how Guzman showed up overnight in the DEA’s intel, but he was smart enough to learn how to avoid trouble. Guzman created shell companies and he even created tunnels to smuggle drugs. According to the article, Guzman has been involved in creating tunnels since the 1990s. Some of the tunnels are sophisticated enough to have ventilation systems, rail cars, and some span several hundred yards under the USA and Mexican border.
Guzman eventually transitioned to leader of the cartel after its previous head was extradited and imprisoned in the USA for the murder of a DEA agent. Guzman was arrested in 1995 for a variety of crimes including involvement in the murder of a Catholic Cardinal, but he escaped from prison in 2001 by hiding in a laundry cart. He has been on the run ever since. Guzman has outlasted other organizations and cartels, including the infamous Zetas. According to the above article, Guzman was also known for setting up rivals to be killed or sent to jail which allowed his cartel to supply a bigger share of the demand for drugs.
Even though Guzman was captured, his organization will continue to provide drugs and take over the routes used by weakened drug trafficking groups. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman may be considered by some to be the Al Capone of the new millennium, however his arrest will not stop, slow down, or even drastically change the actions of the cartels.