It was the baron of the drug world’s most powerful, but he is living now alone in a prison of Manhattan: on the eve of the opening of his trial in New York, Joaquin Guzman-known as “El Chapo” is no more than the shadow of itself.

Since his extradition to the United States on January 19, 2017, “El Chapo” – also called “The Squat”, a nickname due to his small size, approximately 1.60 m – has lost its aura: isolated in his cell 23 hours out of 24, after two escapes to Mexico, he may not see his lawyers and his twin seven-year-old. Even his wife is forbidden to visit.

At the pre-trial hearings in his trial, Mexican 61-year-old, very thin, could not speak to his lawyers. In his rare public statements, all he did was complain. “I suffer every day from headaches. I vomit almost on a daily basis. Two molars that I was not careful make me suffer a lot,” he wrote in February, in a letter to the judge in charge of his case, Brian Cogan. “I saw a nightmare 24 hours on 24.”

Seller of oranges

The fall is tough for the one who conducted 25 years ago during one of the cartels the most powerful of the planet, a former hero of the culture narco and “narcocorridos, these ballads mexican with guitars and trumpets, that tell the heads of cartels.

U. S. law enforcement/AP

His bizarre escapes fueled his legend and earned him an international reputation until his arrest in 2016, which put an end to decades of hounding by the authorities.

Joaquin Guzman is one of these drug-traffickers started from nothing: born April 4, 1957 into a poor family of a village in the mountains of Sinaloa, in the north-west of Mexico, he worked from childhood selling oranges, caramels, and soft drinks.

As he will tell the actor Sean Penn during an interview in October 2015 supposed to be kept secret but which will contribute to his arrest, he began, teenager, to cultivate marijuana and poppy, due to lack of alternatives. “The only way to have money, to buy food, to survive, was to grow the opium poppy, marijuana, then, at this age, I began to cultivate and sell”, he confided to the american actor.

He will be recruited by the leader of the cartel of Guadalajara, Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, nicknamed “the godfather” of the mexican cartels modern.

After the arrest of Gallardo in 1989, Guzman founded with three partners in the cartel of Sinaloa, which he will in a few years an empire to the branches of europe and asia. “I provided more of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana than anyone in the world. I have fleets of submarines, aircraft, trucks and boats,” boasted-he in the interview to Sean Penn, published in the magazine Rolling Stone .

The fortune amassed by the cartel it will be a time on the list of the magazine Forbes of the richest men in the world, before emerging in 2013 as a result of expenses necessary for its protection.

Ingenious escapes

If you supplied a picture of Robin hood helping the poor and ridiculing the powerful, El Chapo has also led a fight ultra-violent against his rivals, a war between cartels that ravage today even Mexico.

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A gunfight in 1993 at the airport of Guadalajara has in particular claimed the life of cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo, the killers had confused it with El Chapo.

A month after, the head of the cartel, is arrested in Guatemala. Held in a high security prison in mexico, he soudoie his guards and escapes in 2001, hidden in a tray of dirty laundry. The mexican authorities will take thirteen years to catch up, in February 2014, in the seaside resort of Mazatlan, where he was hiding with his wife Emma Coronel, a beauty queen 32 years his junior, and their twins, who were born in the United States.

In July 2015, same player shoot again: Guzman escaped through a tunnel of 1.5 km, resulting in the shower of his cell and fitted with rails, illustrating the ingenuity of his men and inflicting a serious blow to the mexican authorities. This new run will be short: he was arrested in January 2016 to Los luxurious accommodation, on the pacific coast, in its stronghold of Sinaloa.

This is by intercepting messages addressed to the actress american-mexican Kate del Castillo that the authorities would have found. The actress, who was the head of the cartel in the series the Queen of The south , accompanied Sean Penn to the interview of 2015.

” READ ALSO – The romance fatal El Chapo

Before marrying Emma Coronel, Joaquin Guzman, had already been married at least twice. In addition to his twin, he has other children, including at least two wires that the u.s. authorities have accused of playing a role “significant” in its label. Another son, Edgar, was shot dead in 2008.