6 min readPublished On: June 16, 2023By

El Chapo had an estimated net worth of $12.6 billion when he was ordered to forfeit his assets when sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years in July 2019. As Mexico’s most notorious drug kingpin, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has amassed an enormous amount of wealth through his shady dealings. Many figure the diminutive drug lord is worth billions. Let me walk you through how El Chapo built his empire of blood money.

Full Name Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera
Net Worth $12.6 billion
Age 66
Date of Birth and Place April 4, 1957 / La Tuna, Badiraguato Municipality, Sinaloa, Mexico
Occupations(s) Leader of Sinaloa Cartel
Nationality Mexican
Marital Status Married

Who is El Chapo?

Born into a poor family in the rural town of Badiraguato, Sinaloa, El Chapo had little opportunity and education. He began his career in the marijuana fields of his hometown, harvesting the plants as a young boy. Through a combination of street smarts, charisma, and ruthlessness, he gradually took control of the Sinaloa Cartel, transforming it into a global powerhouse valued at over $50 billion.

He began working for the Guadalajara Cartel in the 1980s, but he later split off on his own to form the Sinaloa Cartel. Under El Chapo’s ruthless leadership, the cartael grew into the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world. The Sinaloa Cartel now controls roughly half of the drugs flowing into the United States from Mexico.

Drug trafficker Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted to a helicopter by Mexican security forces
Drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is escorted to a helicopter by Mexican security forces (Source: Getty Images)

El Chapo gained notoriety for using sophisticated drug smuggling tunnels to move his products across the U.S. border. Some of these tunnels were over a mile long, ventilated, electrified and equipped with rail tracks. El Chapo also allegedly bribed countless Mexican officials, military officers and politicians to protect his drug empire. This widespread corruption allowed El Chapo’s operations to run with near impunity for years.

Wife’s Name Emma Coronel Aispuro
Hobbies Luxury cars, luxury watches, luxury yachts, private zoo
Height 5 ft 6 in (168 cm)
Weight 136 lbs (62 kg)
Zodiac Sign Aries

Money was certainly important to El Chapo, but power and influence motivated him more. He craved the authority and control over his trafficking empire. El Chapo was ruthless and did not tolerate any threats to his power. Those who betrayed or challenged him did not live to regret it. At his peak, El Chapo wielded more power and influence than the Mexican government in some areas. He built schools, churches, and recreational facilities to gain the loyalty of locals.

At the height of his power, El Chapo was the most wanted man in Mexico with a bounty of over $5 million on his head. El Chapo’s greed and ambition ultimately proved to be his downfall. His high-profile lifestyle attracted the attention of international authorities, leading to multiple arrests, though El Chapo escaped twice from maximum-security prisons in Mexico through underground tunnels. In 2016, El Chapo was arrested again and extradited to the US, found guilty of drug trafficking, and sentenced to life in prison.

El Chapo Receives Life Plus 30 Years Sentence in U.S. Prison
El Chapo Receives Life Plus 30 Years Sentence in U.S. Prison (Source: NPR, Reuters)

What is El Chapo’s net worth in 2023?

The net worth of El Chapo was estimated at more than $12 billion when he was forced to forfeit his assets after losing a lengthy legal battle in 2019. While El Chapo was a dangerous criminal, he certainly knew how to enjoy the spoils of his crimes. With billions in disposable income, El Chapo enjoyed an opulent way of life. He owned several luxury mansions, a private zoo, a collection of exotic pets, a fleet of aircraft, and numerous vehicles. El Chapo also loved women and was reported to have many mistresses and multiple families in addition to his wife Emma Coronel.

Some of El Chapo’s favorite toys included:

  • Fleet of Gold and Diamond-Encrusted Vehicles: El Chapo loved flashy cars, including Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and custom SUVs. He would spare no expense on custom details like gold instrument panels, jewel-encrusted gear shifts, and personal monograms.
  • Private Zoos and Aviaries: Exotic animals were a symbol of status for El Chapo. At his residential compounds, he kept private zoos housing big cats like lions, tigers and panthers, as well as rare birds like flamingos, peacocks and parrots.
  • Mistresses and Mansions Galore: El Chapo was a notorious womanizer and kept many mistresses, showering them with extravagant gifts like mansions, sports cars, and plastic surgery. He would house them in luxurious residences across Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador.
El Chapo’s Wife Emma Coronel Aispuro at out of Brooklyn Federal Court
El Chapo’s wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, out of Brooklyn Federal Court (Source: Getty Images)

El Chapo was arrested on multiple occasions but escaped each time, adding to his legendary status. His most notorious escape was in 2015 when he fled a maximum-security prison through a mile-long tunnel dug under his cell’s shower. The intricate tunnel system likely cost tens of millions of dollars to construct, demonstrating the immense resources at El Chapo’s disposal. For a man of simple tastes from humble beginnings, El Chapo sure knew how to spend lavishly on himself.

Estimates of El Chapo’s net worth range from $10 to $12 billion, making him one of the wealthiest criminals in history. The net worth of El Chapo is thought to have reached $14 billion at his peak.

Huge Profits with Drug Dealing

The illegal drug trade is an extremely lucrative business. According to estimates, the Sinaloa Cartel makes between $3 to $5 billion per year from smuggling marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine into America. El Chapo and his associates pocket much of those immense profits. At its peak, El Chapo was earning an estimated $1 million per day, making him one of the highest-paid criminals on the planet.

Money Laundering Empire

Of course, El Chapo couldn’t deposit those fat stacks of cash into a savings account, so he built up an elaborate money laundering operation. El Chapo ran the Sinaloa Cartel like a legitimate corporation. He kept detailed ledgers, employed a team of accountants, and invested his profits in legal businesses to launder money. The cartel owned pharmaceutical companies, real estate, hotels, and other licensed businesses that were used to hide the origin of funds and generate clean cash and profits.

The Sinaloa Cartel invested their dirty money into numerous legitimate businesses to make the funds appear clean. They own stakes in shopping malls, restaurants, real estate, mining operations, and tourist attractions across Mexico. By some accounts, the cartel’s money laundering empire is as profitable as their drug activities.

The Bottom Line: The Billion-Dollar Bounty of El Chapo’s Cartel

In the end, putting an exact figure on El Chapo’s net worth is difficult, given the illegal origins of his fortune. But with a vast drug empire, money laundering operations, and a lavish lifestyle, his wealth likely totals into the billions. While El Chapo will live out the rest of his days behind bars, his criminal legacy and the immense drug empire he built will not soon be forgotten.

However, with so much money still sloshing around, his criminal organization could continue for years to come. El Chapo’s net worth stands as a testament to how far one man will go to attain power and wealth, no matter the cost to society.

Curious about the net worth of other celebrities? We have posts about the life stories, and how they make money, including the net worth of Henry Cole, Carla Diab, and many more.

About the Author: Nathan Rivers

Nathan Rivers
With a keen interest in cryptocurrencies, stocks, forex, and personal finance, Nathan dedicates his expertise to educate and empower readers seeking reliable information in the ever-evolving world of investments.

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