21 Things You Didn’t Know About El Chapo
Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has been part of the popular imagination in Mexico and all over the world for decades. The supposed leader of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel has become a celebrity due to his extravagant prison brakes, the network of tunnels he allegedly built to smuggle drugs to the United States.
El Chapo is currently undergoing a highly publicized trial in Brooklyn, as he was extradited to the United States. With this trial, as well as the release of the highly anticipated Netflix show Narcos: Mexico, where his character is expected to make a cameo, El Chapo is as relevant as ever. Here are some facts and possible facts about this elusive and mythical figure.
1. First things first, Chapo means “Shorty”
Wonder where the famous moniker came from? Guzmán stands 5 ‘6″ tall. El Chapo is quite short, so his nickname is basically Sinaloa slang for “shorty”. El Chapo is a small but commanding figure, sort of a Napoleon of the criminal underbelly.
2. He is considered by some to be a modern Robin Hood
El Chapo has always been vocal about his humble origin and his despise of government corruption. He has built roads and schools in his native state of Sinaloa, which is why some consider him a working-class hero.
3. According to some sources, he began selling marihuana as a minor
He lived in a rural area and by 15 he was supporting his family by selling oranges, cheese and, some claim, pot. Very early on he started understanding the mechanisms of illegal narcotic trade. A self-made dealer who became one of the richest people in the planet.
4. You can buy El Chapo piñatas in Mexico
Yes, you read that right. El Chapo has become a mythical figure in his home country, and popular culture manifestations like piñatas often depict political figures. After his second escape from a maximum security prison numerous piñata makers made a killing. When he was finally captured for good the piñatas were quickly updated.
5. He had a girlfriend while in prison
When he was first in prison before escaping in 2001, Chapo had a girlfriend. Her name was Zulema and she was a former police officer. She was murdered upon her release from jail, possibly because of her relationship with the kingpin.
6. Chapo masks are now common for Halloween and Día de Muertos
Just like some scare kids wearing Trump masks on Halloween, Mexicans wear masks of hated politicians and other public figures. El Chapo masks are a common feature at Halloween parties and other events.
7. He once lined the road leading to his house with human bodies
According to the documentary TV show Drug Lords: El Chapo (Netflix), El Chapo liked to make quite a statement when anyone visited his property. He lined up cadavers in his driveway just to show who is boss. Sounds very Apocalypse Now to us to be honest.
8. His current wife is an Instagram celebrity
Emma Coronel is a famous Instagramer and former beauty queen. She often posts snapshots of her daily life, messages to her imprisoned husband and even photos of her twin daughter’s lavish Barbie-themed party.
9. He expanded his cartel globally
The Sinaloa Cartel has been described as the biggest and most complex criminal organization in the planet. Part of El Chapo’s success is due to directly enter faraway markets like Australia without paying intermediaries.
10. He allegedly loves golden and diamond-incrusted guns
Guns that are custom made by skilled jewelers are a common sight in narco culture. El Chapo is said to have ordered a gun to mark his mention in the Forbes richest people in the planet list.
11. He has been married 3 times and has 9 kids
He has a big heart, at least according to his turbulent love life. He has 9 kids. He first married in 1977 with Alejandrina María Salazar Hernández, and had César, Iván Archivaldo and Jesús Alfredo. With his second wife he had Joaquín, Edgar, Ovidio and Griselda Guadalupe. With his current wife, Emma Coronel, he has twins María Joaquina and Emali Guadalupe.
12. He bought all the red roses available in Culiacán for his son’s funeral
May 10 is Mother’s Day in Mexico and sons and daughters rush to flower shops to buy a bouquet for su jefecita. 2008 was different though, as the funeral for El Chapo’s son Edgar Guzmán was being held and his father bought all the roses available in the city. Lupillo Rivera wrote a song about the funeral: “50 mil rosas rojas”.
13. He plans to sue Netflix and Univision over El Chapo TV show
Upon the release of the popular Univision/Netflix show, his lawyer claimed during a radio interview that: “Things are happening (in the series) that do not correspond to reality, despite the fact that there is no conviction confirming those events. That represents a grave violation of (Guzman’s) right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty”. For him, the TV show defames El Chapo and sends the wrong message prior to his trial.
14. He lined the US/Mexico border with underground tunnels
Besides having escaped prison through a complex tunnel, El Chapo hired expert engineers to move his product across the border through a network of tunnels across the border. He escaped the authorities for years.
15. Forbes considered him the 63rd most powerful person in the world
Chapo’s power was not only due to his immense wealth, but also to the international reach of his operations and the alleged influence he had on local and international politics.
16. He is an internet celebrity in his own right
His last escape became fodder for meme creativity. The collective mind power of the web came together to create some pretty cool viral content.
17. He used multiple false names to escape the authorities
Ge got quite creative. Joel Sánchez, Jorge Ramos Pérez or Sánchez, Raúl Guzmán Ruiz and Francisco Villaseñor were just some of them.
18. He is a religious man
According to a bishop, El Chapo is a believer. He professes his love to the Virgin of Guadalupe, like most Mexican Catholics, and to Malverde, an unofficial patron saint of drug traffickers. He has built multiple churches in his home state.
19. He built a fancy mausoleum for himself
Like many drug dealers in Sinaloa, El Chapo has prepared his last resting place. It is a huge mausoleum with air conditioning, TVs, beds and all the facilities so his loved ones can pay their respects when he passes away. Pictured: the 1.2 million dollar mausoleum where El Chapo’s brother Arturo was buried.
20. He was extradited just as Trump had his inauguration
El Chapo made numerous social media threats to candidate Donald Trump, particularly after his controversial speeches attacking Mexican migrants. In what was seen as an inauguration gift from the Mexican government, Guzmán was handed over to US authorities a day before Trump came into power.
21. According to his lawyer, he paid off two Mexican presidents
El Chapo’s trial in a US court has produced a couple of bombshell declarations. The biggest one is an accusation of corruption to presidents Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto, who have publicly denounced the cartels. According to these accounts, their campaigns were partly financed by the drug lord.