World’s 10 Most Wanted Drug Lords

World’s 10 Most Wanted Drug Lords


Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, the world’s most wanted drug lord, was captured on January 8 in his home state of Sinaloa, known as the “cradle of Mexican drug trafficking” because of the large number of infamous narcos born there.Now that he’s back behind bars, six months after he escaped, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has stamped the word “captured” across his picture on its “most wanted international fugitives” web page.

The page contains just two other names, neither of whom appear to be particularly relevant today.

One is a Colombian named Maria Teresa Osorio de Serna who is wanted for “money laundering and cocaine conspiracy” and is said to have links to Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel. The other is John Alexander Thompson, aka Coach, who is wanted for heroin distribution and is said to be either African or Caribbean, without specifying a country.

DEA spokeswoman Barbara Carreno told VICE News that the agency was receiving many confused inquiries because of delays in updating its website.

“The fact that Maria Teresa [Osorio de Serna] is one of two people on the international page is more of a function of that not being kept up so well,” she said. “With all the queries we’re getting, we’re going to make sure everybody is where they need to be so people can find them easier.”

In the meantime, here is a brief guide to the world’s most wanted drug lords.

Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada is a legendary figure in the Mexican underworld who has reputedly never spent a day in prison. Believed to be in his late 60s, El Mayo has long been considered to be as important a figure in the Sinaloa cartel as El Chapo, though he keeps a much lower profile. Zambada and the Sinaloa cartel are known to traffic a wide range of narcotics, such as domestically produced heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine, while also providing transit for South American cocaine.

Both capos first rose to prominence within the Guadalajara cartel in the 1980s, with El Mayo gathering influence in the 1990s, most of which Chapo spent in jail. The two kingpins teamed up again following Chapo’s first escape from maximum-security jail in 2001 to become leading figures in a broad alliance of Sinaloa groups known then as the Sinaloa Federation. They were both on the same side when the Federation split in 2008.

The elusive El Mayo gave an interview to the news magazine Proceso in 2010 in which he argued that his capture or death would make little different to drug trafficking in Mexico as there would always be others to take his place.

El Mayo has seen several members of his family arrested in recent years, including his brother and three sons. The most important, Vicente Zambada Niebla, was extradited to the US in 2010 and later pled guilty and accepted a plea bargain of a minimum of 10 years in prison. He had originally sought to get out of a trial by arguing that he had negotiated an immunity from prosecution deal in exchange for becoming a DEA informant before his arrest.


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