Rise and Fall of World’s Most Powerful Drug Lord | 2018-07-18 | daily-sun.com

Rise and Fall of World’s Most Powerful Drug Lord

Md Mahfuzul Islam Al Asad     18 July, 2018 12:00 AM printer

Many countries have launched war on drugs, for example, US, Mexico, the Philippines are actively involved in this war. US President Richard M. Nixon, first announced war on drugs in 1971, then it was followed by President Ronald Reagan. Mexican President Felipe Calderón started the war on drugs in 2006, where US has donated 1.5 billion USD under Merida Initiative. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte declared similar war in 2016. Across the world, the war on drugs has been a predominant strategy to drag the drug kingpin. At present, El Chapo Guzman is the most powerful drug trafficker of the world. In the Google search, Guzman covers most of the parts of drug trafficking.

Who is El Chapo?

According to Forbes Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera popularly known as ‘El Chapo' has been the world's most powerful drug trafficker, and he is also ranked 67th most powerful person of the world. This nickname is not because of his activities or drug dealings; it is because of his physical size. In Mexico, short people are termed as El Chapo. He has been a legend in Mexico, sometimes known as the Mexican Osama Bin Laden. According to many sources, El Chapo has succeeded everyone in the history of illegal drug trading and championed as ‘the biggest drug lords of all times'. This tale goes longer. He had a secretive interview with Sean Penn, the American Actor, and during this interview, the shirt that he wore became the best seller in the US, and CNN reported that it was ‘the most wanted shirt' by ‘the most wanted man', as said by the Californian Manufacturer. Even being a most wanted and convicted drug dealer, he had an interview with Penn in Rolling Stone magazine, said ‘I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana than anybody else in the world, and I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks, and boats.' If anyone googles it, it is found that  El Chapo has become a lead news or cover story for almost all global news and magazines. Time Magazine announced him the Most Influential People in 2009. Netflix produced drama series based on the true story of the augmentation, imprisonment, and escape of notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquín ‘El Chapo' Guzmán.

With all these fantasies, El Chapo has been a number one hunted man in the US and many other jurisdictions. He was accused in several states in Arizona, California, Texas, Illinois, New York and Florida. He was called as ‘Public Enemy Number One' by the Chicago Crime Commission in 2013. In contradictions with this, he is a well-mannered man with well-cared-for complexion. Respected by the community, it is also said that he cares his mother very much and likes to develop, for example, donating to a local church, building roads and infrastructures, creating jobs and cultivations etc his village area. As a result, he seems by some as a hero, with many ‘drug ballads,' that glorify kingpins, written in his honour.

Drug Den: Sinaloa Cartel

The Sinaloa is a state of Mexico, located in the west and southern area. The Sinaloa cartel is named after its home state.  The cartel is a kind of organisation that produces manufactures process and traffics illegal narcotics. The Sinaloa cartel has its own separate wings for different activities. It has independent underground caves, tunnels, arms and ammunition along with its own strong military to war against government police. With all these tactics they smuggle drugs and launders money locally, regionally and internationally. Not only in Mexico, but also in this human planet, the Sinaloa cartel is the most powerful cartel and one of the most powerful criminal organisations. It has been powerful because it has the power and influence to stabilise vis-à-vis destabilise the global illegal narcotics market across the world. The US Justice Department describes it as ‘one of the world's most prolific, violent and powerful drug cartels,' circulating billions upon billions of dollars in heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine. Many research and statistics depicted that it has been the lead distributor of heroin and cocaine in the US, and in the international drug chains. Some sources estimated that Sinaloa cartel has been controlling more than 40 per cent of total business and the total revenue is more the 3 billion USD.

Arrest, Escape and Extradition

For the first time, El Chapo was apprehended for the allegation of trafficking, murder, and kidnapping in Guatemala on June 9, 1993. After extradition from Guatemala, he is convicted for 20 years and locked in Mexican maximum security prison. Within few years, he managed to escape from this high-security prison. The US subsequently proclaimed USD 5 million for information in regard to his apprehension and conviction. As he has wife and relatives in the US, the US government instruments the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act to confiscate his assets in the US in the name of his relatives. However, he was rearrested in Mexico in 2014. Nonetheless, he again managed to escape from Mexican Federal maximum security prison just within a year.  Due to huge global pressure, Mexican authority raided and recaptured him in Sinaloa state on January 8, 2016. The US instantly requested Mexico to extradite him immediately and with judicial approval, he is finally extradited to the US on May 9, 2016.

Trial and Punishment

El Chapo Guzman is now in Brooklyn federal prison in the US. Interestingly, he pleads guilty and declared himself innocent.  His trial is scheduled for September in a federal court in the US. The US prosecution team outlined 56-page memorandum, detailing his three decades drug deals and deaths, and claiming 1 trillion USD in American drug war. According to US Drug Enforcement Administration, he is indicted for several criminal charges, at least for 17 superseding indictment and jointly prosecuted by the US Attorney's Offices in Brooklyn and Miami and the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section of the Criminal Division.  However, NY Times report that for expeditious trial process and privacy of the jurors, the honourable judge orders the case will be heard of by an anonymous and partly requisitioned jury. Due to his unprecedented past of viciousness, the jurors should be driven to and from their homes to Federal District Court in Brooklyn by armed federal marshals and their names, address and workplaces will be kept secret.


In Mexican Ballad, the mythic man, Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera or El Chapo Guzman, remains to many as ‘modern day Robin Hood' whereas the prosecutors are expected to tell the jury an epic story of El Chapo Guzman and his international drug trade. All concerned are waiting to spectacle this ‘drug trial of the century' in September,  though his lawyer Eduardo Balarezo said such stories will somehow impede fair justice and will hamper the presumption of innocence of El Chapo Guzman. 

Meanwhile, questions come: does this global drive against drug bring the order in countries, does the existing local, regional or international criminal justice system requires reform to prosecute them or does the resilient communities help to foster the drug free societies, or does a coordinated effort of resilient communities and criminal justice system will help for a sustainable drug free world? Like a South African justice, we must say, the hope is our best theory.

(The writer duly acknowledges the sources and studies of different international newspapers, magazines and legal research in this regard.)


The Writer is studying LLM in International Economic and Business Law at Kyushu University in Japan and can be available at: aammi82@gmail.com.