Guzmán was born on April 4, 1957 to a poor family in the hamlet of La Tuna near Badiraguato, where he sold oranges as a child. He had two sisters: Armida and Bernarda; and had 4 brothers: Miguel Angel, Aureliano, Arturo and Emilio. Little is known about Guzmán's early years. His father was supposedly a cattle rancher, as were most in the area; it is believed, however, that he also grew opium poppy. Fortunately for Guzmán, his father had connections to higher-ups in the Sinaloan capital of Culiacán through a relative, Pedro Avilés Pérez, Joaquin Guzmán's uncle. Aviles was a key player in the Sinaloa drug business, seen as a pioneer for finding new methods of transporting the rural produce to urban areas for shipment by way of airplanes. He is reportedly the first to use airplanes to smuggle cocaine to the United States.
By the time Guzmán was in his 20s, his connection to Aviles would be his window of opportunity to start in the drug business and make his fortune. In the late 1970s, Héctor "El Güero" Luis Palma Salazar gave Guzmán his first big break. El Guero placed him in charge of transporting drugs from the Sierra to the cities and border and overseeing shipments. He was ambitious and pressed his bosses to increase the quantities of drugs being moved north. 
In the early 1980s, Guzmán was introduced to Miguel "El Padrino" Ángel Félix Gallardo himself. Gallardo put him in charge of logistics -- effectively coordinating plane flights, boat arrivals and trucks coming from Colombia into Mexico. El Güero still controlled deliveries to clients in the United States, but Guzmán would soon work directly for El Padrino himself. Although early on Guzmán lived in Guadalajara, as did Gallardo, his command and control center was actually located in Agua Prieta, Sonora. After Félix Gallardo's capture, Guzmán took control of the entire Sinaloa Cartel. Guzmán is wanted by the governments of Mexico and the United States and by INTERPOL; so far he has evaded operations to capture him.
 MethamphetamineAfter the fall of the Amezcua brothers, founders of the Colima Cartel, in 1998 on methamphetamine trafficking charges, there was a need for leadership throughout Mexico to coordinate methamphetamine shipments north. Guzmán saw an opportunity and seized on it. Easily arranging precursor shipments, Guzmán and Ismael Zambada García ("El Mayo") made use of their previous contacts on Mexico's Pacific coast. Importantly, for the first time the Colombians would not have to be paid -- they simply joined methamphetamine with cocaine shipments. This fact meant no additional money needed to go out for planes, pilots, boats, and bribes; they used the existing infrastructure to pipeline the new product. Up until this point, the Sinaloa Cartel had been a joint venture between Guzmán and Ismael Zambada García; the methamphetamine business would be Guzmán's alone. He cultivated his own ties to China, Thailand and India to import the necessary precursor chemicals. Throughout the mountains of the states of Sinaloa, Durango, Jalisco, Michoacán and Nayarit, Guzmán constructed large methamphetamine laboratories and rapidly expanded his organization.
His habit of moving from place to place allowed him to nurture contacts throughout the country. He was now operating in 17 out of 31 Mexican states. With his business expanding, he placed his trusted friend Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel Villarreal in charge of methamphetamine production; this way Guzmán could continue being the boss of bosses. Coronel Villarreal would prove to be so reliable in the Guzmán business he earned himself the nickname, 'the Crystal King'.
 Mexican Cartel WarsSince his escape from prison, he had been wanting to take over the Ciudad Juárez crossing points, which are under control of the Carrillo Fuentes family of the Juárez Cartel. Despite high mistrust between the two organizations, the Sinaloa and Juárez cartels had an alliance at the time....
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