Meet Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, El Chapo’s Elusive Son

Published June 30, 2022
Updated March 8, 2024

As a successor to the helm of the Sinaloa Cartel, Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar began trafficking drugs as a teenager. Now, he has reportedly expanded his father's empire to include meth and fentanyl.

In the late 1980s, the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico began trafficking marijuana, cocaine, and heroin into the United States. From bribery and blackmail to torture and murder, the cartel’s methods were ruthless — owed in part to its merciless leader, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the father of Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar.

Salazar and his brothers Ovidio Guzman Lopez, Joaquin Guzman Lopez, and Jesus Alfredo Guzman — known altogether as “Los Chapitos” — have controlled the cartel from the shadows ever since El Chapo’s arrest in 2016.

The kingpin’s sons were teenagers when they began being groomed to become traffickers themselves and have since expanded the cartel’s operations to include large-scale methamphetamine and fentanyl production.

Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar

Public DomainIvan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, El Chapo’s son, has a $5 million bounty on his head.

Along the way, Salazar has survived cartel-related kidnappings, ordered countless murders, and remains at large with a $5 million bounty on his head.

“These juniors, sons of the Guzman’s but also descendants of other drug bosses, are using their names to operate openly in Sinaloa without any consequence,” said a source from Culiacán, Mexico. “They are a new litter, smarter but also more violent. They grew up around guns and killings, and it’s showing.”

The Early Life Of Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar

As the son of the most infamous cartel leader in the world, Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar’s life is shrouded in secrecy. Not even his birthday is fully agreed upon, as some believe he was born on October 2, 1980, in Culiacán, Sinaloa, while the U.S. State Department claimed he was born on August 15, 1983, in Zapopan in Jalisco.

 El Chapo

Wikimedia CommonsIvan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar’s father El Chapo was sentenced to life in prison in 2019.

Even the number of siblings Salazar has remains unclear, as El Chapo had four wives and between 13 and 15 children. It has been confirmed that Salazar was born to his father’s first wife María Alejandrina Salazar Hernández, however, and that his younger brother Jesus Alfredo Guzman was born on May 17, 1986.

It is likely the young Salazar wanted for nothing in his childhood, but he was also raised to follow in his father’s footsteps. El Chapo had cultivated his own marijuana plantation at 15 only to become a reliable hitman for the Guadalajara Cartel in the late 1970s. When its leader was caught in the late 1980s, he used his savings to form the Sinaloa Cartel.

Salazar was 12 years old when his father was sentenced to 20 years for drug trafficking and bribery in 1995. He joined the flashy cartel lifestyle before turning 18 and started using aliases like “El Chapito,” “César,” “Alejandro Cárdenas Salazar,” “Jorge,” and “Luis.” In January 2001, his father broke out of prison.

Salazar likely came into his criminal career in April 2004 when he shot Canadian exchange student Kristen Deyell and Guadalajara local César Pulido outside of a nightclub. Then only 20, Salazar had reportedly fought over Deyell’s affections only to be rejected — and therefore met her and Pulido with gunfire before peeling off in his red BMW.

Though he might have gotten away with that crime, Salazar was arrested the following year when he flipped his SUV after leaving a party. Police responded to the scene to find firearms and a brick of cocaine in his car. Salazar was charged with numerous organized crime offenses and money laundering.

Then suddenly, he was released when the charges were curiously dropped.

Nonetheless, Salazar was arrested again. A psychological profile described him as “anxious, suspicious, reserved and evasive, with veiled hostility.”

The report eerily added, “He becomes sensitive…[and shows] probably psychological violence toward persons that he does not consider on his socio-economic level.”

Taking Over The Sinaloa Cartel

Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar Facebook Post

FacebookA 2015 Facebook post by Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar.

When Salazar was released a second time in 2008, the Sinaloa Cartel had already laundered billions of dollars by purchasing cocaine from South America, growing marijuana, and trafficking those drugs into the U.S. Newly liberated, Salazar began buying ephedrine from Argentina to produce methamphetamine across 11 labs in Sinaloa — and purchased fentanyl hubs in Culiacán.

Salazar and the other Los Chapitos learned from his father and used sophisticated tunnels, aircraft, and boats to traffic drugs into the U.S. It’s been estimated that up to 5,000 pounds of meth were produced every month, while the proceeds went to purchasing firearms and bribing officials. The tides seemed to turn in 2012, if only for a moment.

When the United States Treasury Department blacklisted Salazar and Ovidio in May 2012, all of their U.S. assets were frozen — and it became illegal for American citizens to conduct business with the siblings. It was only two years later when El Chapo was captured in Mazatlán after more than a decade on the run.

Where Are El Chapo’s Son And Los Chapitos Today?

El Chapo's Son Ovidio Guzmán López

TwitterSalazar’s brother Ovidio Guzmán López was arrested in 2019 and let go due to cartel pressure.

The proverbial chokehold seemed to tighten when Salazar was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of California on July 25, 2014. He and his colleagues were charged with conspiracy to import methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana, as well as conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

Salazar and his brother Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar themselves were allegedly captured in 2015 by members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, though this has never been confirmed.

If true, then both siblings were released within one week and have been operating from the shadows ever since. El Chapo, meanwhile, was extradited on Jan. 19, 2017, facing a 17-count indictment, and was sentenced to life in July 2019.

Ultimately, nobody really knows where Salazar is today. While he maintained a Twitter account with 166,000 followers and lavished his fans with photos of cars, big cats, and women, he hasn’t posted since 2016 — and continues to be hunted with a $5 million bounty on his head.

After learning about Los Chapitos and El Chapo’s son Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, read about cartel leader Sandra Ávila Beltrán, the “Queen of the Pacific.” Then, learn about Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, the real Don Neto from ‘Narcos.’

Marco Margaritoff
A former staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff holds dual Bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a Master's in journalism from New York University. He has published work at People, VICE, Complex, and serves as a staff reporter at HuffPost.
Leah Silverman
A former associate editor for All That's Interesting, Leah Silverman holds a Master's in Fine Arts from Columbia University's Creative Writing Program and her work has appeared in Catapult, Town & Country, Women's Health, and Publishers Weekly.
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Margaritoff, Marco. "Meet Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, El Chapo’s Elusive Son.", June 30, 2022, Accessed June 16, 2024.