The Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera was captured in a hotel located in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico on Feb. 22–following a joint operation by U.S. and Mexican authorities.
He was a fugitive for more than a decade. In 2001, he used a laundry basket to escape from a maximum security prison in Puerta Grande, Jalisco.
Hardly literate, Guzman managed to build an “empire” known as the Sinaloa Cartel, for which he served as president.
In 2010, he appeared in Forbes magazine, which ranked him 67th on the world’s top billionaires list–causing great controversy in the United States. and in Mexico. His popularity continued to grow, and now that he is in prison, U.S. authorities seek extradition.
Ironically, the U.S. banks laundered the Sinaloa cartel’s money. The United States is also the biggest market for the organization.
The Federal Court of New York in 2008 proved that HSBC, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and Bank of America were directly related to money laundering. The same court found that HSBC had laundered at least $1.1 billion from Sinaloa.
It is estimated that today, the drug cartel generates a yearly profit of about $2 billion. Such money could not circulate without the involvement of bank’s legal financial system.
Antonio Maria Costa, former executive director of the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) cited key figures dating back to 1997. She said the Sinaloa Cartel’s drug sales were close to $400 billion in that year alone.
The Sinaloa Cartel moves approximately two tons of cocaine and 10,000 tons of marijuana (35 percent of the existing marijuana in the world, according to CNN) each month. Trade routes for the cartel are not only concentrated in the United States–they extend to Ecuador, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina.
—Translation:Gabriela Sierra Alonso
Story by: Eduardo A. González Robles