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Unmasking 'El Chapo' World Most Wanted Drug Baron

The recent capture of the world's most wanted drug lord, 'El Chapo' has closed another chapter in the fight against drugs which...

The recent capture of the world's most wanted drug lord, 'El Chapo' has closed another chapter in the fight against drugs which has spanned for decades,  affecting America and even gaining fame for his notoriety.

Led one of Mexico's richest, most violent cartels
Born in Badiraguato in Sinaloa state, Guzman started his career in the drug trade working for Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, according to Time magazine in 2009.

He started his own cartel in 1980, expanding it into other states and even poaching some of his mentor's territory. That creation -- the Sinaloa cartel -- soon became Mexico's most powerful and richest, a multi-billion empire that supplied much of the marijuana, cocaine and heroin sold on American streets.

'El Chapo's' Short-lived Freedom Was Finally Busted 

It was also one of the most violent. U.S. indictments claim the organization used assassins and hit squads to show its muscle. The rivalry with other drug cartels has spurred an ongoing drug war that's left thousands of Mexicans dead.

"He's the epitome of the problem," Malcolm Beith, author of "The Last Narco," said of the man whose nickname translates as "Shorty." "He's a poor kid who had some family connections in the drug trade, no options, no real education ... (and) becomes a big-time drug lord."

Daring escapes create a legend Authorities first caught up with Guzman in 1993 in Guatemala. He was extradited to Mexico and sent to the Puente Grande maximum-security prison following his conviction.

Yet even behind bars, Guzman lived like a king, Beith said. Eight years later he escaped via a laundry cart. His legend grew as he evaded Mexican authorities, with stories of him helping the poor and paying everyone's tab at restaurants.

Singers in Mexico and the United States even hailed his exploits, with rapper Gucci Mane singing, "All I wanna be is El Chapo. And when I meet him I'mma tell him bravo."

'El Chapo' During His Hay Days 

But these exploits ended in 2014 with his arrest in a predawn operation on his beachside hideaway in the Mexican Pacific resort town of Mazatlan. Authorities found a shirtless Guzman, with an AK-47 next to his bed, and his beauty-queen wife in a no-frills condo tower.

Intense manhunt after latest escape
This time, Guzman was sent to Altiplano Federal Prison in Almoloya de Juarez. But he escaped in July, crawling through a hole in his cell block's shower area into a lighted, ventilated tunnel, then to a half-built house.

The Tunnel That 'El Chapo' Used To Escape From A Mexican Prison 

He then traveled north about 140 kilometers (85 miles) to San Juan del Rio, where two small planes were awaiting his arrival and took off from an airstrip, Attorney General Arely Gomez has said.

At the time, the Mexican President said he was "deeply troubled" by what he called "a very unfortunate event."

"This represents, without a doubt, an affront to the Mexican state," he said. "But also I am confident that the institutions of the Mexican state, particularly those in charge of public safety, are at the level, with the strength and determination, to recapture this criminal."

'El Chapo' With Had His Own 'Army' 

Since his escape, Guzman had been rumored to be many places, including as far away as Argentina. In October, authorities revealed they were hot on Guzman's trail, only to have him slip out of sight, though not before apparently breaking his leg.

Gomez said last fall that 34 people have been detained in connection with Guzman's breakout last year, including the drug lord's brother-in-law. - Online Sources 

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