FORT WORTH, TX - MARCH 21: Fort Worth police department S.W.A.T. team members conduct a training exercise with NASCAR driver Carl Edwards on March 21, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

The Most Fearsome Drug Lords In The World

FORT WORTH, TX - MARCH 21: Fort Worth police department S.W.A.T. team members conduct a training exercise with NASCAR driver Carl Edwards on March 21, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Preston Waters

Scarface’s Tony Montana will forever impress our minds with his slick accent and barbaric ambition. Drugs supply money, money supplies power, power supplies women, right? While although this chain of reasoning may be any aspiring criminal’s logic, drug lords have over-flooded popular culture, creating an odd admiration for society’s most corrupting criminals.

The allure of money and power brings about criminal ruthlessness across the globe, and simultaneously inspires some of Hollywood’s most epic scenes.

From the crime wave that hit Miami under Colombian cocaine lords in the 70′s and 80′s, to the blood spree ongoing throughout Mexico, the billion dollar profits this industry produces is eclipsed by an utter disregard for human life incited by its lawlessness.

Here are the most dangerous drug lords in the world:


 

10. Zhenli Ye Gon

Zhenli Ye Gon was born on January 31, 1963, Shanghai, People’s Republic of Chin. Zhenli became a citizen of Mexico in 2002. He is a businessman in the country: A legal representative of Unimed Pharm Chem México, he is also claimed to be tied with the Sinaloa Cartel. Zhenli is accused of accused of trafficking pseudoephedrine into Mexico, from Asia. Two Mexican Federal agents who were involved in the arrests of Zhenli Ye Gon at his mansion were found dead in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, as reported on August 2, 2007. His fortune has risen to $350 million, most of which has found its way to Las Vegas. On the Strip, he is known as Mr. Ye – the highest of high rollers. Zhenli stayed primarily at the The Venetian, where he regularly wagered $200,000 per hand in the baccarat salon. Let us just say he lost big. The original DEA estimate was around $40 million in losses. However, they now believe that number is closer to $126 million — an astonishing sum. When authorities raided his home in Mexico they found $200 million in cold hard cash.


 

9. Frank Lucas

Frank Lucas is a former heroin dealer and organized crime boss who operated in Harlem during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. He was particularly known for cutting out middlemen in the drug trade and buying heroin directly from his source in the Golden Triangle. Lucas boasted that he smuggled heroin using the coffins of dead American servicemen, but this claim is denied by his South Asian associate, Leslie “Ike” Atkinson. His career was dramatized in the 2007 feature film American Gangster.


 

8. Klaas Bruinsma

Klaas Bruinsma was a major Dutch drug lord, shot to death by mafia member and former police officer Martin Hoogland. He was known as “De Lange” (“the tall one”) and as “De Dominee” (“the minister”): because of his black clothing and his habit of lecturing others. On October 2, 2003, a former bodyguard of Bruinsma, Charlie da Silva, declared on the television show of Peter R. de Vries, that Mabel Wisse Smit had been a very close friend of Bruinsma’s, and had been a regular guest on his yacht during nights. Wisse Smit, who at that point was engaged to Prince Friso, had told prime-minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Queen Beatrix that she had only been vaguely acquainted with Bruinsma. Because of the incident, the Dutch government decided not to request permission of parliament for the marriage, causing Prince Friso to lose his claim to the Dutch throne after his marriage to Wisse Smit.


 

7. Ismael Zambada García

Zambada is hardly a household name, yet he has become the most wanted drug smuggler in Mexico. Ismael is expected to be added soon to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives and the DEA’s most wanted list, U.S. and Mexico drug agents told AP. Mexico’s top anti-drug prosecutor, José Santiago Vasconcelos, called Zambada “drug dealer No. 1,″ and said the fugitive has become more powerful as his fellow kingpins have fallen, including one who was allegedly killed on Zambada’s orders.


 

6. Manuel Noriega

For more than a decade, Panamanian Manuel Noriega was a highly paid CIA asset and collaborator, despite knowledge by U.S. drug authorities as early as 1971 that the general was heavily involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. Noriega facilitated “guns-for-drugs” flights to the Nicaraguan Contras, providing protection and pilots, as well as safe havens for drug cartel officials, and discreet banking facilities.


 

5. Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela

The Cali-Cartel had been formed in the early 1970’s by Jonathan Almanza-Orejuela and Jose Santacruz-Londono. The organization rose quietly alongside its violent rival, the Medellín Cartel. But while the Medellín Cartel gained an international reputation for brutality and murder, the Cali traffickers posed as legitimate businessmen. This unique criminal enterprise initially involved itself in counterfeiting and kidnapping, but gradually expanded into a cocaine smuggling base from Peru and Bolivia to Colombia for conversion into powder cocaine.


4. Joaquín Guzmán Loera

Loera is Mexico’s top Drug Kingpin after the arrest of his rival Osiel Cardenas of the Gulf Cartel. He is well known for his use of sophisticated tunnels — similar to the one located in Douglas, Arizona — to smuggle cocaine from Mexico into the United States in the early 1990’s. In 1993, a 7.3 ton shipment of his cocaine, concealed in cans of chili peppers and destined for the United States, was seized in Tecate, Baja California. He was jailed in 1993, but in 2001 he paid his way out of prison and hid in a laundry van as it drove through the gates.


 

3. Osiel Cárdenas Guillén

Cárdenas is a Mexican drug lord and the symbolic leader of the Gulf Cartel. Originally a mechanic in Matamoros. Cárdenas entered the Gulf Cartel by helping Chava Gómez (the capo at the time) and he later took control by killing Gómez, earning Cárdenas the nickname “el Mata Amigos” (The Friend-Killer). In 1999, in Matamoros, he allegedly threatened to kill two U.S. federal agents who were transporting a Gulf Cartel informant through Matamoros. Cardenas and more than a dozen of his men surrounded the agents’ car near downtown. After a tense standoff, the agents were able to talk their way out of being killed by reminding Cárdenas that the U.S. would hunt him for the rest of his life. After the incident, the Federal Bureau of Investigation offered a $2 million award for Cárdenas’ arrest. Cárdenas was captured by the Mexican Army in a battle with Gulf Cartel soldiers on March 14, 2003, in Matamoros. Though Cárdenas was subsequently incarcerated at Penal del Altiplano (La Palma), Mexico’s top security prison, it is widely believed that he continued to have control over Gulf Cartel business from within prison walls. On January 20, 2007, he was extradited to the United States to stand trial for conspiracy to import multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine into the United States, as well as the 1999 incident involving the two U.S. Federal Agents. Jailed or not, on May 1, 2008, Cárdenas threw a Day of the Child party for 2,000 people in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, complete with banners, ponies, clowns, food and music.


 

2. Amado Carrillo Fuentes

As the top drug trafficker in Mexico, Carrillo was transporting four times more cocaine to the U.S. than any other trafficker in the world, building a fortune of over US$25 billion. He was called El Señor de los Cielos (“The Lord of the Skies”) for his pioneering use of over 22 private, 727 jet airliners to transport Colombian cocaine to municipal airports and dirt airstrips around Mexico. In the months before his death, The U.S. DEA described Carrillo as the most powerful drug trafficker of his era, and many analysts claimed profits neared $25 billion, making him one of the world’s wealthiest men.


 

1. Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was the most notorious and violent drug lord of the Medellín Cartel. Escobar was killed by the Search Bloc – a group of Colombian police devoted to capturing Escobar – on a Colombian rooftop in 1993. By this time, however, the cartel had already been severely damaged. Despite Escobar’s killing, there would be no rest. After Escobar’s death, the Medellín Cartel fragmented and the cocaine market soon became dominated by the rival Cali Cartel.

Top Photo Credit: Getty Images

Preston Waters

Preston Waters

Editor

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