For those who haven't heard of him, El Chapo probably sprang to international recognition thanks to daring escapes out of high-security prisons in Mexico, the latest of which involved a tunnel stretching almost a full mile from his cell to a nearby construction site. But El Chapo, aka Joaquin Guzman, actually escaped from his first prison sentence in 2001, after which he began his meteoric rise to the top of the world's narcotic-trafficking trade.
El Chapo may translate to "Shorty," but the diminutive Guzman nevertheless made big waves almost immediately. By 2009, even Forbes magazine recognized El Chapo as one of the wealthiest and most powerful people on the planet, featuring him on their World's Billionaires list until 2013, when he was dropped due to difficulties estimating his net worth - guesses which typically hovered around numbers like $4 billion.
Guzman was arrested for the final time in 2016, and then found himself extradited to the United States in early 2017 to face criminal charges while being held in more secure locations. His case is currently in pre-trial motions, but even now, escorting the criminal to and from a New York City courthouse is causing plenty of aggravation for commuters who find the Brooklyn Bridge closed at random times of day when he's crossing.
Before the 2016 arrest, Mexico's special investigation unit for organized crime, or SEIDO, conducted a raid in 2015 which failed to locate El Chapo. But it did give the world a glimpse into the life of a man Forbes called the biggest narcotics trafficker "of all time" as SEIDO managed to seize more than 40 vehicles from his car collection. Keep scrolling for 20 of El Chapo's most expensive, most powerful, and most secure rides.
20 Dodge Charger Police Car Clone
The modern era of retro-styled muscle cars has brought plenty of business back to Detroit's automotive manufacturers, but one of the most meaningful side effects has been the acquisition of pursuit-special Dodge Chargers by law enforcement agencies across the country. Sure, every driver got a jolt from seeing the blob-like Crown Victoria pop up in the rearview mirror, but nothing compares to the sheer presence of the Charger in black-and-white ready to pull over a speeding car or happily chase it down. El Chapo clearly appreciated the look, and owned his own Charger which was cloned into a police car lookalike, the perfect car for evading authorities north of the border, if necessary.
19 Ducati Monster
The Ducati Monster helped to save the Italian manufacturer thanks to its incredibly popular design and series of powerful engines. Over 300,000 Monsters have been sold over various iterations, and it has spawned plenty of imitators of its 'naked' form. While domestic drivers may not have gotten the chance to see or ride Monsters quite as long as the rest of the world, the bike actually debuted in 1993, and was popular internationally almost immediately. For a man like El Chapo, who might need to bug out at a moment's notice, the Monster combines a bit of ruggedness with plenty of get-up-and-go speed.
18 Ducati Hypermotard 1100
El Chapo's Ducati Hypermotard combines a bit of the design of the Ducati Monster, with its minimal exposed frame, and throws in even more off-road-ready ruggedness.
Those long front shocks allow the Hypermotard to compete in Supermotard racing, a unique blend of flat dirt tracks, motocross jumps, and paved asphalt.
In reality, while the Ducati Monster may be a bit of a better-looking motorbike, if El Chapo had to make a quick getaway from a police raid, like the one that confiscated all his vehicles, the Hypermotard would allow for greater versatility in his escape route that the authorities likely wouldn't be able to traverse.
17 RENNtech-Modified Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren hit the market for model year 2003 with styling clearly evocative of the legendary 'Gullwing' 300 SL, but with modern technology propelling it to new heights. With a supercharged, 5.0-liter V8 under its long, low hood cranking out 557 horsepower and 531 lb-ft of torque, the SLR McLaren left the factory in pretty impressive style. But El Chapo bought himself one massively modded by Florida-based Benz tuners RENNtech, with an upgrade package that bumped power up to 722 horses and 715 lb-ft of torque, to go along with a more aggressive aero package on the exterior.
16 Dodge Challenger SRT
Dodge's Challenger SRT has helped to revivify Detroit's muscle car power wars, and brings plenty of style to the table, as well. The all-out insanity of the Challenger in Hellcat Demon spec, with its 840 horses and 2.7-second 0-60 time, may have attracted El Chapo had he been free to buy one during the 2017 model year, but in 2015, when his Challenger was seized by authorities, he had to make due with the Challenger SRT. Still, this modern take on the aggressive styling of 1960s-era Challengers further serves to highlight El Chapo's obsession with some of the finest cars coming out of the country directly to his north which would end up holding him for trial.
15 C6 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Chevrolet's Corvette has remained at the top of Detroit's hierarchy because the model doesn't just boast impressive power stats, but brings sleek style and nimble handling into the mix, as well.
The closest thing to a mainstream domestic supercar, the C6-generation Corvette in ZR1 spec owned by El Chapo would have cranked 638 horsepower out of its supercharged 6.2-liter V8, and managed to reach 192 miles per hour in period testing.
A C6 ZR1 cost over $130,000 when new, but that kind of sum must have seemed like chump change to a kingpin like El Chapo, whose net worth was regularly estimated at more than $4 billion.
14 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG brought back styling reminiscent of a car that once sat at the top of the world in terms of design and performance.
Those gullwing doors are a solid giveaway that the Mercedes-Benz design team wanted to reintroduce a spectacular product into their lineup, and the SLS AMG didn't disappoint.
With a price tag that easily approached $300,000 and up to 622 horsepower on tap, the SLS AMG commands instant attention from any automotive enthusiast, and massive wealth from any would-be buyer. Clearly, El Chapo's taste matched his massive wallet - the question is, who took the car home after it was seized by the authorities?
13 Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG
Mercedes-Benz's second-highest spec G-Wagen available to the public when El Chapo ruled the criminal world was the G 63 AMG, a brute-ish, powerful SUV equally as comfortable off-roading as it is touting famous figures around Hollywood (stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone both drive G 63s). A G 63 AMG fits perfectly into El Chapo's collection, offering plenty of comfort and luxury in a utilitarian body that's still capable of giving the police a run for their money thanks to a massive 537 horsepower, 561 lb-ft twin-turbocharged V8 under the hood. Why he didn't opt for the G 65 AMG with its twin-turbo V12 is a true mystery - or maybe the authorities just didn't find it.
12 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG
The Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class was just starting to dominate the market when El Chapo's car collection was seized in 2015.
It combined the swooping style of the larger CLS sedan with the small size of the CL line, and in AMG trim it featured one of the world's most powerful four-cylinder engines, a 2.0-liter with a twin-scroll turbo bolted on to create up to 376 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.
El Chapo clearly loved his Mercedes cars and SUVs, and the CLA 45 AMG was just the kind of sleek, luxurious sports sedan that no one with his kind of wealth and taste could pass up.
11 Nissan GT-R
The automotive world as a whole could barely contain their joy when Nissan unveiled the modern GT-R in 2007. With the history of the Skyline GT-R establishing its legend, the GT-R brought an impressive twin-turbocharged V6 to the market, sending 478 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels.
The only let down was that it didn't come with a stick shift, and the automatic trans the GT-R left the factory equipped with couldn't handle the massive torque figures during launch control mode.
Given Paul Walker's modded Skyline street racer featured in 2 Fast 2 Furious, it seems likely that El Chapo loved his car movies as much as his cars.
10 Dodge Viper
Few cars evoke the raw emotions that a Dodge Viper brings to the forefront of drivers, passengers, and onlookers as it roars and spits down the road. That long hood, those massive vents, and an enormous V10 engine combine with minimal driver's aids to create one of the most fearsome cars ever made. For a vicious criminal whose way of life demanded that he instill fear into all those around him, El Chapo's choice to drive a Viper seems straightforward - after all, if he can tame this monstrous Detroit beast, he can certainly tame the ranks that make up his cartel.
9 Hummer H2
The Hummer H2 was mainly a marketing ploy by GM to parley the military-spec Hummer into a more daily-driveable vehicle that still brought the same ruggedness to the table.
The fact that El Chapo had an H2 and not an original Hummer actually seems a bit surprising, given the kind of serious beating that the military version could handle thanks to its purpose-built utilitarianism.
But compared to the Chevy pickups and SUVs with which it shared many components, there's no denying that the Hummer H2 brought a bit of that nasty edge that a ringleader like El Chapo probably felt he needed to display at times.
8 Jeep Sahara (Wrangler)
One of America's most iconic vehicles, the Jeep Wrangler, is sold in Mexico badged as the Sahara. The pared-down Wrangler is an off-roader, through and through, with a basic functionality that has not changed in more than thirty years of production and four distinct generations. The Wrangler is so quintessentially USA that Enzo Ferrari is quoted as say, "Jeep is America's only real sports car." And while a certain Carroll Shelby would probably beg to differ, the fact that El Chapo, who clearly loved his US SUVs, owned one reveals the kingpin's obsession with the automotive nation that was the source of so much of his wealth.
7 Fox Body Ford Mustang
After the Ford Mustang's steady decline following its earliest, 1960s-era models, the Fox Body Mustang that debuted in 1979 was a breath of fresh air for the lineup.
With style that would come to shape the development of 1980s automotive design, the Fox Body remains a relatively impressive performer for its age and price point.
El Chapo was probably in his mid-20s when the Fox Body Mustang hit the market, the perfect age for an up-and-comer to fall in love with the futuristically styled muscle car, though whether he bought his first one back then or ended up finding one once he had plenty of cash lying around is a mystery that may never be revealed.
6 Armored Dodge Ram HEMI (Two)
If celebrities like athletes, musicians, and movie stars in the United States need constant security protection, just imagine how paranoid the people in charge of guarding El Chapo must have been every minute of every day.
With a nearly continuous war being waged against Mexican governmental authorities, as well as rival cartels, El Chapo faced threats around every corner - making armored vehicles a must.
And when choosing something to armor, weight and power come into play, making a Dodge Ram HEMI a perfect choice for rugged durability and plenty of beefy torque to move the added layers of bulletproof materials. El Chapo owned two, possibly to allow for decoy operations.
5 Armored Ford Lobo (Two)
The world's best-selling pickup goes by another name south of the border, where the F-150 is known as the Ford Lobo. Every generation of the F-150 brings rugged versatility, plenty of powertrain options, and cabin configurations for every potential use. El Chapo owned two Lobos, which he had outfitted with armoring systems for uses that Ford may not have originally intended their product to ever see. El Chapo must have liked his F-150s, though, so perhaps it's a good thing he isn't free to experience the letdown of the model's recent, aluminum-construction struggles. The F-150s that authorities got their hands on may have actually ended up being the latest and greatest in that long line of successful pickup trucks.
4 Armored Jeep Grand Cherokee (Four)
While armored pickup trucks would seem a logical choice for a man like El Chapo, whose industry revolves around moving goods from place to place as much as it does maintaining a dictatorial grip on his territories, at some point he must have craved for a little more luxury when traveling in safety and security. The result was a group of four armored Jeep Grand Cherokees that authorities seized in 2015, a solid choice of a model that bring the combination of a bit more comfort with all, and maybe more, of the off-road capabilities that heavier armored trucks have to offer.
3 Armored Jeep Liberty
Though Jeep may not be particularly excited about El Chapos penchant for their products, they should at least feel a little bit of pride knowing that someone of his means chose them for the private security of his own person and his family. Besides a Wrangler (or Sahara) and four Grand Cherokees, El Chapo also owned an armored Jeep Liberty - although perhaps the fact that he only had one, rather than many, was one of the sign that Jeep interpreted when choosing whether they should abandon the model altogether in 2012, as it didn't fit particularly smoothly in among the rest of the brand's lineup.
2 Armored Nissan Frontier
The mid-sized pickup truck is one of the world's best-selling classes of vehicles, in the domestic market and possibly even more so in the international market, with models like the Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado, and Ford Ranger having garnered massive sales figures over the course of their production runs.
The often-forgotten but highly successful Nissan Frontier may have grown in stature over the last decade, but its overall capability hasn't diminished in any way.
With perhaps a bit more ability to navigate narrow streets and thick forest, El Chapo's armored Frontier was probably a solid backup to his other, more massive, armored trucks.
1 Armored Volkswagen Jetta
Possibly the funniest car in El Chapo's collection is an armored Volkswagen Jetta. Who would take the time to add armor-plating to a car that already can't drive fast, handle well, or really do any of the things that the rest of El Chapo's collection all do so well?
Perhaps the inconspicuous nature of the Jetta is what led to the decision.
With the heat pressuring in from all sides, and big, expensive vehicles standing out like a sore thumb in the Sinaloa region, a Jetta with some subtle modifications may have allowed El Chapo to move around under the radar while still maintaining a sense of safety.