The Global Billionaires Club may be getting smaller by the minute, but there are still pockets of heavy growth. For example, Mexican drug lords are doing well. That’s why Forbes magazine’s latest list of the world’s billionaires includes Mexico’s most wanted man, Joaquin Guzman.
The 54-year-old Guzman, who stands at just 5 feet tall and is widely known for his charisma and intelligence, is 701st on the list with an estimated fortune of $1 billion. Said to be head of one of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels, Guzman escaped from a Mexican prison on 2001 and is currently on the lam, possibly in Mexico or Central America.
According to the BBC, Mexican officials “blame much of the recent violence in the north of the country on Mr Guzman.” For over a year, Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel has been trying to oust a rival gang from the border city of Ciudad Juarez; the turf war has left more than 2,000 people dead. His wedding in 2007 to his 18-year-old wife was so heavily guarded that the Mexican army did not attempt to arrest the groom.
Drugs are a big business, even in a recession. Forbes estimates that last year Mexican and Colombian traffickers made close to $39bn. And “there is no sign that global drug consumption is falling. And as long as the demand remains, fortunes will be made.” Guzman is not the first alleged drug runner to have made it into the illustrious ranks of the Forbes list of billionaires, according to the BBC’s Stephen Gibbs. In 1989, Colombia’s Pablo Escobar was ranked the 7th richest man in the world, with $25bn to his name. Who says there are no job opportunities?