Joaquín Guzmán is bigger than Pablo Escobar ever was. The CEO of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, Guzmán is behind up to half the drugs that enter the US from Mexico. At 55, the short and stocky drug-runner with a third-grade education has become a driven, obsessed entrepreneur who runs an operation as complicated as UPS or Amazon, with annual revenues estimated at $3 billion (pretty close to Facebook). "In its longevity, profitability and scope, it might be the most successful criminal enterprise in history," reports the New York Times.
Indeed, Sinaloa does resemble a legitimate business. It has lines of credit, an obsession with keeping receipts, and tasks farmed out to subcontractors to protect upper management. "The goal of these folks is not to sell drugs,” says a former DEA official. "It's to earn a spendable profit and live to enjoy it." In fact, Sinaloa and other "cartels" are not true cartels; rather than collaborate on prices, they battle fiercely for success in a free, if ultra-violent, market. Now rumors are swirling that the Mexican government, fed up with the endless bloodshed, may even give Sinaloa a monopoly on the drug trade in exchange for peace.