Continued from page 2

He joined the Guadalajara cartel, run by Mexican Godfather Miguel Angel Gallardo, and rose quickly through the ranks as a ruthless businessman and skilled networker, making key contacts with politicians and police to ensure his loads made it through without problems.

After Gallardo was arrested in 1989, the gang split, and Guzman took control of Sinaloa’s operations.

The Sinaloa cartel violently seized lucrative drug routes from rivals and built sophisticated tunnels under the U.S. border to move its loads.

In 1993, gunmen linked to the Tijuana-based Arrellano Felix cartel attempted to assassinate Guzman at the Guadalajara airport but instead killed Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo, outraging Mexicans.

Police arrested Guzman weeks later before his escape from El Puente Grande prison in 2001. At the time of his escape, Guzman had been serving a 20-year sentence for bribery and criminal association in a maximum-security prison in Mexico.

He was rumored to have once entered a restaurant in Culiacan, capital of Sinaloa state, where his henchmen confiscated every patron’s cellphone so their boss could eat without fear of an ambush. He was also rumored to have staged an elaborate public wedding in 2007 to an 18-year-old bride that was attended by officials and local police.

Federal police say they raided the town that day, but got there just a few hours too late.

Guzman had long been reported to move around frequently, using private aircraft, bulletproof SUVs and even all-terrain vehicles.

His location was part of Mexican folklore, with rumors circulating of him being everywhere from Guatemala to almost every corner of Mexico, especially its “Golden Triangle,” a mountainous, marijuana-growing region straddling the northern states of Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua.

An archbishop in northern Durango state said in April 2009 that Guzman lived in a town nearby. Days later, investigators found the bodies of two slain army lieutenants with a note: “Neither the government nor priests can handle El Chapo.”