The Mexican drug lord lived an extraordinary life and made billions from the drugs trade.
I have long known that there is a lot of money in the illicit drugs trade of course, but I hadn’t quite realised the extent of it until I read this week about the trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, a Mexican drug lord. The trial, which opened last month, will reveal the epic tale of Guzman’s “remarkable life story”, says Alan Feuer in The New York Times.
Guzman was extradited from Mexico to the US to face charges nearly two years ago, ending one of the century’s most notorious criminal careers. He got his start in crime as a poor teenage labourer by farming marijuana in rural Sinaloa and “rose to become the Al Capone of the international drug trade who Forbes magazine once placed on its annual list of billionaires”.
Guzman’s “sprawling” empire “routinely trafficked tons of heroin, cocaine and marijuana across four continents in an ever-changing fleet of trucks, planes, fishing boats and submarines”. During his more than 20 years in business, he “raked in $14bn in illicit profits”. This loot, flown into Mexico in private jets, enabled Guzman to protect himself and his position “with a vast payroll of corrupt officials and an army of professional assassins”.
According to one of his former associates, turned government witness, the drug lord “had houses at every single beach” and “ranches in every single state”, reports Associated Press. He used his jets “to fly around Mexico with armed bodyguards to visit all his homes”, including an Acapulco beach house featuring “a zoo with a little train used to ride around and see lions, tigers and panthers”. Over time his interests broadened and he developed a taste for world travel – “his entourage visited Macau to gamble and Switzerland so he could get a cellular youth treatment”.
A lifetime behind bars
With conviction almost a certainty, Guzman won’t be making any more trips to the zoo, and instead faces a lifetime behind bars. But amazingly, “his vast assets have yet to be seized”, which allows his wife and his children “to continue their opulent lifestyles”, reports Isabel Vincent in the New York Post. US law enforcement believes the drug kingpin’s family has access to “hundreds of millions” of dollars in cash, real estate and other holdings. His relatives are not exactly shy about this either – two of his sons, Alfredo and Ivan, have been spotted on social media driving Audi Spyders that retail for more than $220,000.
Now you might think that rubbing people’s noses in their continued good fortune might not be the wisest course of action for the Guzmans, especially considering both sons are wanted on drug trafficking charges. Alfredo, 35, was recently added to the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s Ten Most Wanted List and the reward on information leading to his capture was recently raised to $5m. But don’t expect them to be following in their father’s footsteps and ending up in prison any time soon. The Guzman clan’s “ready access to a fortune” means that “they can easily pay off anyone”.
Tabloid money… the unbelievable new anti-ageing sensation
• Well done to Jameela Jamil, says Karren Brady in The Sun on Sunday. The British actress has been using her considerable social-media following to point out the hypocrisy of women who are paid to endorse weight-loss products online. Earlier this year, Jamil called Kim Kardashian “a terrible and toxic influence on young girls” for promoting a lollipop that claims to suppress appetite.
She followed it up last week with a parody video, which she posted online, titled: “If celebs and influencers were actually honest with us about some of these diet/detox products…” Let’s just say she spends much of it on the loo because of the laxative effect of these products. We all know the principle of weight loss — eat less, move more. So instead of buying weight-loss shakes and lollipops you could just do that.
l I had to re-read several times the story in the tabloid press about rich women paying to have the circumcised foreskins of South Korean babies (where the procedure is common) rubbed in their faces before I believed it, says Brian Reade in the Daily Mirror. But it’s true.
Women such as Hollywood actresses Kate Beckinsale and Sandra Bullock really are paying £465 for supposedly anti-ageing serum made from stem cells. When cheaper versions of this are made and it becomes the must-have anti-ageing cream, how hypocritical will we appear? All I know is that if I ever hear my wife shouting as I head into town, “can you pop into Boots and ask for a jar of Seoul Smegmata Skin Sensation”, it won’t be happening.
l Much has been made of a rumoured falling-out between the duchesses of Sussex and Cambridge. But put yourself in Meghan Markle’s £1,000 Manolo Blahnik pumps, says Tina Weaver in The Mail on Sunday. You, the former television star, have landed the biggest role of your life.
Forget the four million who tuned in to watch Suits – now billions are watching. When you joined The Firm, you were billed as a breath of fresh air. But the royal family hates to be upstaged. All the passion and zeal it took to make it in Hollywood are not attributes to be admired. So when you became HRH the Duchess of Sussex, your previous title of “MSH” (Make S*** Happen) Markle should have been retired.