30 Absurd Facts About El Chapo, The Most Feared Drug Lord In Mexican History

Published November 8, 2021

From his prison escapes to his Twitter wars, discover some of the wildest facts about Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.

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If you were to lay out the facts of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's life, you'd think they were ripped from the pages of a Hollywood movie script: assassination attempts, worldwide domination of the illegal drug trade, prison escapes, and encounters with movie stars deep in the jungle.

It would all be extremely hard to believe if there wasn't hard evidence to back it up. But the fact is that Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's life has been far from ordinary, even by drug lord standards.

Nicknamed "El Chapo" ("Shorty" in Spanish) for his 5'6" frame, Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera began his journey to the top of the drug world in his early teens as a successful marijuana dealer in the 1970s.

He eventually moved up to cocaine dealing in western Mexico under the guidance of drug kingpin Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo. It was after Gallardo's capture in the 1980s that Guzmán truly stepped up to the big leagues of international drug trafficking and expanded the notorious Sinaloa Cartel.

Before long, Guzmán was making a name for himself as one of the country's most powerful drug traffickers — and putting himself on the radar of both Mexican and U.S. law enforcement agencies in the process.

Soon, Guzmán would spend eight years in prison during the 1990s before escaping in 2001. But even when he was behind bars, his cartel continued to grow in power. In the decade following his escape, he rose to the level of infamy of historic kingpins like Pablo Escobar. And at one point, he was responsible for trafficking nearly a quarter of the world's illegal drugs.

But he fell from that perch after being captured by police in 2014. Though he managed to escape again, he was soon recaptured in 2016. From that point onward, he has remained in custody in the United States.

However, even though Joaquín Guzmán has now been caught, his shocking and disturbing legacy will probably never fade away. Discover the most unbelievable facts about his life in the gallery above.

After looking through these facts about Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, learn about Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada García, the new leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. Then, check out these shocking narco Instagram photos.

Joel Stice
Joel Stice holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with more than 10 years of experience in writing and editing, during which time his work has appeared on Heavy, Uproxx, and Buzzworthy.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.