List of Famous Drug Lords
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was a Colombian drug lord and narcoterrorist who was the founder and sole leader of the Medellín Cartel. Dubbed "The King of Cocaine," Escobar is the wealthiest criminal in history, having amassed an estimated net worth of US$30 billion by the time of his death—equivalent to $59 billion as of 2019—while his drug cartel monopolized the cocaine trade into the United States in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, commonly known as "El Chapo" because of his 168 cm stature, is a Mexican drug lord and former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, an international crime syndicate. He is considered to have been the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.
Enedina Arellano Félix de Toledo is a Mexican drug lord who leads the criminal organization known as the Tijuana Cartel.
Ramon Eduardo Arellano Félix was a Mexican drug lord who alongside his brothers founded and led the Tijuana Cartel. He was the leader of the enforcement wing of the organization until his assassination on February 10, 2002.
Ismael Zambada García is a Mexican suspected drug lord and leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, an international crime syndicate based in Sinaloa, Mexico. Before he assumed leadership of the entire cartel, he served as the logistical coordinator for its Zambada-García faction, which has overseen the trafficking of cocaine and heroin into Chicago and other US cities by aircraft, narcosubs, container ships, go-fast boats, fishing vessels, buses, rail cars, tractor trailers, and automobiles.
Rafael Caro Quintero is a Mexican drug lord who co-founded the now-disintegrated Guadalajara Cartel with Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and other drug traffickers in the late 1970s. He is also the founder and current suspected leader of the newly formed Caborca Cartel based in Sonora. He is also the brother of fellow drug trafficker Miguel Caro Quintero, the founder and former leader of the defunct Sonora Cartel.
Frank Lucas was an American drug trafficker who operated in Harlem during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was known for cutting out middlemen in the drug trade and buying heroin directly from his source in the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia. Lucas boasted that he smuggled heroin using the coffins of dead American servicemen, but this claim is denied by his Southeast Asian associate, Leslie "Ike" Atkinson. Rather than hide the drugs in the coffins, they were hidden in the pallets underneath, as depicted in the feature film American Gangster (2007) in which he was played by Denzel Washington, although the film fictionalized elements of Lucas' life for dramatic effect. In 1976, Lucas was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to 70 years in prison; however, after becoming an informant, his sentence was reduced to five years. He was convicted of the same offense in 1984, and sentenced to seven years in prison. He died in 2019.
Pablo Acosta Villarreal, commonly referred to as El Zorro de Ojinaga was a Mexican narcotics smuggler who controlled crime along a two-hundred mile stretch of U.S.-Mexico border. At the height of his power, he was smuggling 60 tons of cocaine per year for the Colombians—in addition to the incalculable amounts of marijuana and heroin that were the mainstay of his business. He was the mentor and business partner of Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the so-called 'Lord of the Skies', who took over after Acosta's death.
Griselda Blanco Restrepo, known as La Madrina, the Black Widow, the Cocaine Godmother and the Queen of Narco-Trafficking, was a Colombian drug lord of the Medellín Cartel and a pioneer in the Miami-based cocaine drug trade and underworld during the 1980s through the early 2000s. It has been estimated that she was responsible for up to 2,000 murders while transporting cocaine from Colombia to New York, Miami and Southern California. She was shot and killed on September 3, 2012, at the age of 69. At her height, Blanco was one of the richest and most dangerous women in the world, and was the most powerful drug kingpin in the world. She became the first-ever billionaire female criminal, ruling her multi-million dollar drug trafficking empire with an iron fist, and becoming one of the deadliest women of all time.
Gilberto José Rodríguez Orejuela is a Colombian former drug lord, who once was one of the leaders of the Cali Cartel, based in the city of Cali.