Meet the Mother of “El Chapo”: “Even as a Little Child, He Had Ambitions”

July 17, 2015
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by Patrice Taddonio Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist

Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the drug kingpin known as “El Chapo” (Shorty), is once again one of the world’s most wanted men, following his second escape from a Mexican prison last Saturday.

His Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s largest trafficker of cocaine, heroin and marijuana, has orchestrated violence that has lead to thousands of deaths in recent years. Drugs from its operations are sold in the U.S. and across the world, and Guzmán’s net worth has previously been estimated at more than $1 billion.

According to a rare interview with Guzmán’s mother, Consuelo Loera, that will air on FRONTLINE this coming Tuesday, July 21, her son dreamt of building an empire for as long as she could remember.

“Even as a little child, he had ambitions,” Loera told filmmakers Angus Macqueen and Guillermo Galdos, who sat down with her on their quest to find and interview Guzmán prior to his 2014 arrest by Mexican authorities.

“I remember he had a lot of paper money — little notes of 50’s and 5’s,” she recalled to them. “He’d count and recount them, then tie them up in little piles. He’d say, ‘Mama, save them for me.’ It was just colored paper, but they looked real. He piled them up carefully … Ever since he was little, he always had hopes.”

In Drug Lord: The Legend of Shorty, the two filmmakers explore Guzmán’s brutal and bloody empire. From the streets of Chicago to the “Golden Triangle” in Mexico, home to the Sinaloa cartel’s heroin and marijuana production, the film traces what happened the first time Guzmán escaped from prison in 2001, and features rare access to the U.S. officials that sought to catch him, members of his cartel, and even this exclusive on-camera interview with his mother:

Drug Lord: The Legend of Shorty will premiere on PBS on Tuesday, July 21, starting at 10 p.m. EST both on-air (check your local PBS listings) and online.

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