Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, one of the world’s most notorious drug lords, escaped from a maximum-security prison near Mexico City on Saturday night, slipping out through a mile-long tunnel dug under his cell’s shower. In case you’re not totally up to speed on all things El Chapo, here are 7 things you need to know about the Mexican crime boss.
1. He’s one of the world’s most wanted men.
After Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011, Guzmán was named the world’s most wanted man. One U.S. official even called him the “Osama bin Laden of drug trafficking.”
He’s facing charges in U.S., but has so far managed to avoid extradition. In January, Mexico’s former attorney general, Jesus Murillo Karam, told The Associated Press the Mexican government wanted him to serve out his time in Mexico—at least for the first “300 or 400 years” of his sentence.
2. This isn’t his first prison break…
Guzmán was first arrested in Guatemala in 1993; he was subsequently transferred to a maximum security Mexican prison in the state of Jalisco, where he was held until he escaped in 2001. While in jail, Guzmán used bribes and intimidation to transform the prison into what was described as a “five-star hotel,” with reports of cocaine and women readily available to some inmates.
How he escaped the first time remains under debate. The most popular account says he escaped in a laundry cart, hiding underneath bed sheets and a mattress. Mexican investigators, however, say that Guzmán may have simply walked out front door with the complicity of numerous government and prison officials. Others say he walked out disguised as a woman.
3. …so this is a big embarrassment for Mexico’s government.
A year ago, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said that it would be “unforgivable” if El Chapo escaped twice.
4. Tunnels are kind of his thing.
El Chapo is known for using tunnels to make his escape. He managed to evade Mexican armed forces last year through a secret door built beneath the bathtub of his ex-wife’s house that connected to a series of sewer canals.
He was eventually captured during a pre-dawn operation at a beachside apartment while he slept next to his beauty queen wife.
5. Did we mention he’s insanely rich?
American officials have said that Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel could be responsible for as much as one quarter of all illegal drugs that enter the United States. As a result, he’s no stranger to Forbes‘ global billionaires ranking (the mag estimated his net worth at $1 billion in 2009) or Forbes’ list of the World’s Most Powerful People.
6. But he wasn’t always insanely rich.
El Chapo was born into a poor rural family in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. He’s believed to have left school after the third grade and grown up surrounded by marijuana and poppy crops cultivated by his father. At the age of 15, he planted his own marijuana for the first time and started selling it.
There are some reports he may be illiterate, but Guzman allegedly also has a remarkable memory and runs his businesses without taking any notes, recalling every last detail off the top of his head.
Guzmán’s mother, Consuelo Loera, is believed to be the only person in the world who can influence his decisions.
7. And lastly, he got his nickname based on his height—or lack thereof.
As a teenager, Guzmán was given the nickname “El Chapo,” or “Shorty,” a reference to his height. He’s believed to be 5’6” tall.
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