Famed for his prolific Sinaloa drug cartel, billionaire Joaquin Guzman's presence on Forbes magazines's rich list has incensed Mexican officials.
Forbes magazine’s recently published rich-list has once again sparked controversy after factoring Mexico’s most-wanted criminal, billionaire Joaquin Guzman into its calculations.
Sandwiched between a Swiss oil tycoon and an American convenience food heir, the drug baron appears in 701st position along with a number of others who also hold more than $1 billion (£722million) to their name.
Guzman is believed to be the head of one of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels and authorities hold him largely responsible for the widespread violence that has swept through the north of the country during the past 12 months. Reports suggest that over 2,000 people have already died in a ferocious turf-war raging between Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel and a rival gang.
The 56 year old billionaire has remained at large since his notorious escape from jail in 2001 when he reportedly bought his freedom by bribing every single member of staff working in his housing prison. As part of the subsequent investigation 71 officials were arrested for aiding his escape in the back of a laundry truck.
His influence is such that even the Mexican army refused to attempt an arrest at his recent wedding – to an 18 year old bride, no less - largely because the event was so heavily guarded by his henchmen.
’El chapo’ or ‘shorty’, as he is known to officials, is also counted amongst America’s ‘most wanted men’ thanks to his vast cocaine trafficking enterprise within the country. As such he currently has a $5 million prize on his head.
Guzman’s presence on Forbes’s list has been severely condemned by Mexican authorities; even the President has voiced his disapproval: "magazines are not only attacking and lying about the situation in Mexico but are also praising criminals."
Eduardo Medina Mora, Mexico’s Attorney General, also rebuked Forbes’s act of "comparing the deplorable activity of a criminal wanted in Mexico and abroad with that of honest businessmen."
However, this is not the first time an individual of disrepute has made their way onto the rich list alongside royalty, tycoons and wealthy heirs. In 1989 Pablo Escobar, who also found fortune in Guzman’s line of business, was ranked the 7th wealthiest man in the world with a fortune amassing $25 billion (£18 billion).