Mexican Drug Lord Tops Three Presidents on "Forbes" Most Powerful List

Joaquín Guzmán Loera, also known as “El Chapo,” is Mexico’s most wanted drug lord. He’s also, according to Forbes magazine, one of the world’s most powerful men. Out of the 67 people listed, Guzmán came in at number 41, ahead of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (number 67), French President Nicolas Sarkozy (number 56) and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (number 43).

Power is not always used responsibly. As head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Guzmán, 54, has amassed a billion dollar fortune and caused a staggering amount of violence and bloodshed along the way. He escaped from a Mexican prison in a laundry cart in 2001, days before his extradition to the United States (the American government is offering a $5 million reward for his arrest). He went on to lead a bloody drug war that has caused the deaths of 14,000 people since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006. This year alone, more than 2,000 people have been killed in Ciudad Juarez, which is where Guzman's gang is battling the Juarez cartel.

"Of course he's influential, rich and powerful, but he has cost so many lives, so many youths," said Gabriela Lopez, a 25-year-old businesswoman in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa. "I wish they would make a list pointing out that as well."

"I think he's an almost iconic figure in the underworld," said Don Thornhill, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who tracked Guzman and other Mexican drug lords during his 25-year career before retiring in 2007. "He's certainly taken on legendary status because of his jail break. I think he's pretty savvy at making the right contacts, knowing the right people to pay off, which is why he has managed to keep going as long as he has."

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