KEY POINTS

  • Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera was a famous drug lord smuggling illegal substances from Mexico to the U.S.
  • Guzmán was arrested in 2016
  • His wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, pleaded guilty to helping her husband operate the multi-billion-dollar drug empire

Joaquín Guzmán Loera, or more commonly known as “El Chapo,” was a Mexican drug kingpin who previously led the Sinaloa Drug Cartel. With such a position, Guzmán is estimated to have a net worth of $1 billion.

While holding the highest position in the cartel, El Chapo managed drug trafficking operations between Mexico and the United States. The Sinaloa Cartel is also the largest source of drugs imported into the U.S. every year, delivered via elaborate land and air distribution, Biography noted. 

In his 30-year run as the cartel’s head, Guzmán is believed to have earned more than $12,666,181,704 by handling more than 600,000 kg of cocaine, 200 kg of heroin and at least 420,000 kg of marijuana, the New York Times reported. The former drug lord operated from the early 1990s up until 2016, when he was arrested.

During his reign, the Sinaloa Drug Cartel had power over an estimated 25% of the country's illegal drugs coming in from Mexico. The drug cartel raked in an estimated $3 billion annually, drug enforcement experts said, as per Forbes.

Officials noted the wealth estimate from the drug cartel was a conservative number, arguing there were many unknown amounts of drugs handled by the kingpin.

With his massive wealth, Guzmán also had several luxurious homes, cars, boats and watches, many of which were being auctioned off by the government in 2019. In his 2018 trial, a prosecution witness said the drug kingpin had "houses at every single beach” and “ranches in every single state,” the Mexico News Daily reported. 

While his houses were estimated to be worth millions, they were able to settle for only a fraction of the value. Three of the six homes only sold for $227,960 from an expected value of at least $1 million.

In July 2019, El Chapo was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years and ordered to pay $12.6 billion in restitution.

On Thursday, Guzmán's wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, pleaded guilty to U.S. charges, admitting she assisted her husband in operating the multi-billion-dollar drug empire. She pleaded guilty to knowingly and willfully conspiring to distribute drugs; money-laundering conspiracy; and engaging in transactions with a foreign narcotics trafficker.

El Chapo was convicted last year of crimes spanning a quarter of a century El Chapo was convicted last year of crimes spanning a quarter of a century Photo: PGR / HO