6 of History's Most Notorious Drug Lords
Following Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s capture and the popularity of Netflix’s original series, Narcos, INSIDE EDITION is taking a look at the lives of six of the most notorious drug lords in the history of organized crime.
Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman
Guzman, known to the world as ‘El Chapo,’ is the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel and one of Mexico’s most powerful kingpins. The group is reportedly the source the largest percentage of drugs imported into America every year. The group imports marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin by the ton.
‘El Chapo’ rose to power in the late 1970s working for other drug smugglers in Mexico. By the end of the 80s he had formed the Sinaloa Cartel.
In 2014, he was charged with drug trafficking but famously escaped his Mexican prison in June. He was eventually found in January by Mexican authorities and is now back in custody.
The drug lord has a reported net worth of more than $4 billion.
One of the most notorious drug lords ever was Colombia’s Pablo Escobar. The leader of the Medellin Cartel was dubbed “The World’s Greatest Outlaw.”
Escobar ruthlessly controlled four fifths of the world cocaine market through the 1970s and 80s by shipping an estimated 15 tons of cocaine per day. By 1989, he was the seventh wealthiest man in the world.
During his reign of terror, he was responsible for more than 4,000 deaths before he died in 1993 while being chased by Colombian authorities.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that drug trafficking is a man’s game; Griselda Blanco, also known as “La Madrina (The Godmother),” has proven otherwise.
Operating out of Miami for most of her career, Blanco is believed to be responsible for more than 200 murders including that of a two-year-old child. She was reportedly a mentor to Pablo Escobar as she helped traffic cocaine from Colombia to South Florida.
In 1985, she was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison but continued to conduct business while behind bars. She was released in 2004 and deported to Colombia where she was gunned down in front of a butcher’s shop by an assassin in 2012.
In pop culture she became the center of the popular Cocaine Cowboys documentaries.
Frank Lucas was one of the biggest drug dealers and organized crime bosses in New York City during the 1960s and early 1970s. Lucas, who was known as “Superfly,” operated out of Harlem and trafficked heroin from the South Pacific by smuggling it inside the coffins of dead American soldiers.
During an era when most of the city’s organized crime was run by Italians, Lucas was one of the first African-American crime leaders in the city and the most dominant. By the early 70s, he was making a reported $1 million a month before his bust in 1975.
After he was arrested, he was sentenced to 70 years in prison but the sentence was reduced when he became a government informant. After serving 15 years, Lucas was released in 1981.
In 1984, he was arrested again on a drug-related incident and served seven years in prison. In 1991 he was released from behind bars and returned to Harlem where he saw how his drug business had affected his neighborhood.
In 2007, Denzel Washington portrayed him in the film American Gangster.
Larry Hoover, who was known as “King Larry,” was the leader of the Black Gangster Disciple Nation in Chicago, which controlled the South Side of the city’s drug trade.
From the late 1960s to early 70s, Hoover was reportedly making more than $1,000 a day in profits from drug sales. By 1973, he was sentenced to 150 to 200 years in prison. While behind bars, it emerged that he was still running his crime syndicate.
In 1995, after a five-year undercover investigation by the federal government, he was indicted on drug conspiracy charges. In 1997, he was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to six life sentences.
He is currently serving out his sentence in a maximum security penitentiary in Colorado.
Hoover’s story was immortalized in rapper Rick Ross’ song “BMF” in 2010.
Amado Carrillo Fuentes
Amado Carrillo Fuentes, also known as “The Lord of the Skies,” trafficked cocaine from Mexico to America using fleets of aircrafts.
Fuentes transported more cocaine to America than any other trafficker in the world during the 1980s and most of the 1990s. With an estimated fortune of $25 billion, he used 22 private jets and 727 airliners to transport the drugs.
He died while undergoing plastic surgery to change his appearance in 1997. The bodies of his plastic surgeons were later found stuffed inside oil drums.