El Chapo's narco trial: a luxury life worth of Pablo Escobar

El Chapo's narco trial: a luxury life worth of Pablo Escobar
By Joël Chatreau
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The current trial of Mexico's El Chapo in New York has shed light on the luxury lifestyle he has led for 25 years


If Colombian drug baron Pablo Escobar was still alive, he would almost be jealous. The Mexican Joaquin Guzman Loera, aka "El Chapo", who has earned the same reputation as an omnipotent drug trafficker, had luxury tastes no doubt even more delusional than his late counterpart: the list has just been drawn up at his trial in Brooklyn federal court in New York.

El Chapo when he arrived in the United States in January 2017 after his extradition from Mexico

Are you sitting comfortably? Well, let's go!

Like any self-respecting Latin American cartel leader - after having been an indispensable right-hand man, El Chapo led the Sinaloa cartel for 25 years - he has (or had) a large property in Guadalajara, the capital of the state of Jalisco, in western Mexico. His estate boasted several swimming pools and tennis courts... but this is rather banal for a narco of this scale. On a more original note, El Chapo had a zoo (like Escobar) with his favourite wild animals, such as wildcats, tigers, lions, panthers, and a small train to travel around the complex. The powerful really are just big children.

For his "rural" life, the baron specializing in cocaine owned a ranch in every Mexican state - there are still 31 - and for his leisure, houses on many beaches in the country. His most luxurious residence is found in Acapulco, the famous seaside resort on the Pacific coast, which he would have bought it for at least $ 10 million.

Wherever there's a beach there's a boat, but not just any: El Chapo's favourite yacht is his diminutive, "Chapito". But it is also necessary to be able to travel long distances, whether for business or pleasure, and for that, four private jets were enough. Joaquin Guzman Loera traveled to Colombia, Brazil, Panama, Cuba ... but also everywhere in Europe and Asia. He was known to travel to Thailand, where he could buy cheap heroin and sell it on for huge profit in the United States.

Press drawing during the trial: El Chapo in the foreground, the main lieutenants of his cartel behind him.

And sometimes, Mexican repentant Miguel Angel Martinez told the American court, his boss had sudden desires to go to Macao just to play casino, or go to Switzerland for a makeover. The witness, who noted that, at age 61, the boss had no white hair, revealed that he had stayed in a Swiss clinic where, he said, "You can have cells injected to stay young".

The total addition of his luxurious life is incalculable. To understand, one must consult the figures provided by the prosecution during the trial. In Mexico City in the 1990s, El Chapo would receive  up to three planes almost every month, each filled with millions of dollars -- the fruit of his extraordinary sales of cocaine. Hidden coffers have been found in many of his residences.

The drug trafficker also had the expense of "rewarding" policemen, politicians, bankers and businessmen: $ 10 to $ 12 million a month in bribes.

Perhaps because he was born in a very poor family in the middle of the mountains of the state of Sinaloa, El Chapo happens to be someone who is very generous (with his faithful followers!). One Christmas, he gifted a car to fifty of his closest associates, with each car costing $ 35,000 a piece.

He, in particular, gifted himself an unusual pistol: a caliber 38 of which the handle is entirely encrusted with diamonds (see the photo below). This weapon, shown by the court at the beginning of the week, impressed the jury and the public (it bears the initials "JGL" for Joaquin Guzman Loera).

El Chapo was extradited to the United States on January 19, 2017. US authorities accuse him of exporting a total of 155 tons of cocaine to their territory. He risks being jailed for life.

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