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Jets, lions and private beaches: El Chapo’s luxury lifestyle laid bare by former henchman

Jets, lions and private beaches: El Chapo’s luxury lifestyle laid bare by former henchman
The trial of notorious Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán is entering its third week in New York, where a former lieutenant and trusted adviser has now spilled the beans on the lavish lifestyle of a cartel king.

Miguel Angel Martinez, former henchman of El Chapo and now a government witness, enthralled the courtroom and its jury with his tales of luxury during the “cocaine boom” of the 1990s.

“He had houses at every single beach,” Martinez, who served Guzmán from 1986 to 1998, said. “He had ranches in every single state.” Of particular note is El Chapo’s $10 million Acapulco beach house where the kingpin built a private zoo, replete with big cats –lions, tigers and panthers– that could all be viewed from a little train. Guzmán also kept a yacht docked there, named "El Chapito," after himself.  

Martinez laid bare the details of the Sinaloa cartel’s cross-border smuggling operations that made Guzmán his millions via tunnels under the US border, hidden compartments in tanker trucks and even fake cans of ‘chili peppers’ filled with cocaine.

His operation was so lucrative that Guzmán reportedly sent three private jets at a time to collect the cocaine cash once it crossed back into Tijuana, typically loading $10 million onto each plane in his fleet.



Martinez also described how El Chapo would travel to Macau to gamble with his entourage and to Switzerland for “cellular youth treatment.”

El Chapo also maintained ongoing relationships with "four to five" women, not including his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, who married the drug kingpin in 2007 and who was present during the testimony. “We had to pay them all,” Martinez said.

He was extradited to the US from Mexico in 2017, following the high-profile killing of a Catholic cardinal during a botched attempt on Guzmán’s life by a rival cartel. He has pleaded not guilty to drug-trafficking charges.

READ MORE: ‘Scapegoat framed by US & Mexico’: El Chapo’s lawyer claims real drug lord walks free & bribes govts

The defense attorney has suggested that Martinez' testimony was untrustworthy as he had a four-gram-a-day cocaine habit that had severely damaged his health, something Martinez acknowledged but claimed he’d stopped 20 years ago.

Profiles purporting to be from El Chapo’s sons also give some small insights into the luxurious lifestyle of the drug cartel kingpin.

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