A book about Guzman’s life spawned a 60-part Univision series, part of the “narco-thriller” trend on Spanish-language television.

Guzman was born in the Sinaloan village of Badiraguato, and grew up working on his family’s farm. He reportedly vowed never to return to that kind of life, but also did not forget about his origins, gaining himself fierce defenders in the area.

After El Chapo was arrested last February, a storekeeper there told Bloomberg the mafioso would regularly send food back to his village. “We’re thankful for everything he’s done for us and hope he gets out of jail soon,” the storekeeper said.

Guzman is the frequent subject of the drug-smuggling-themed Mexican folk songs known as “narcocorridos,” one of which imagined his life on the run after he escaped prison for the first time in 2001:

“He sleeps at times in houses/At times in tents/Radio and rifle at the foot of the bed/And sometimes his roof is a cave/Guzmán is everywhere.”

But journalists and writers who have chronicled his life warned not to romanticize Guzman’s blood-soaked legacy.

The New Yorker’s Patrick Radden Keefe wrote that “for all of Chapo’s undeniable chutzpah,” he “ran an organization that was responsible for tens of thousands of murders—each one a specific tragedy for the bereaved.” And novelist Don Winslow, who wrote about a lightly fictionalized version of Chapo in his novels “The Power of the Dog” and “The Cartel,” wrote an op-ed for CNN that concluded:

This “escape” will only add to his reputation as a Robin Hood-like folk hero — songs will be written and sung, kids will listen to them and aspire to be the next Chapo Guzman. The man is no Robin Hood — he’s a mass murderer.

The last time that Chapo “escaped,” his effort to put his empire back together touched off a decade-long war that caused untold suffering, left thousands of orphans, shattered communities and destroyed souls.

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