The Most Unusual Marketing Stories Of All Time III.

3. El Chapo

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was known as the “Prince of Tunnels” “King of Drains” “Master of Tunnels” “King of Tunnels”. But how did he come by these nicknames?

A short story.

You see, after the US Drug Task Force clamped down heavily on the Caribbean drug trafficking routes into the United States, it had become harder to get drugs in. Border security was also tightened. And so, there was a need for alternatives.

So, what to do?

Enter Joaquin Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, popularly known as “El Chapo”.

El Chapo understood the US was the biggest market for the cartel’s drugs and if they wanted to remain in business, they had to find a way to surpass all the security measures already imposed. They needed solid shipping, logistics, and handling.

So, to do this, he contracted an architect and tasked him with the job of building tunnels.

But from where to where?

From Mexico to the US, you dummy 😁

Sounds impossible, yeah?

But not to a resolute mastermind like El Chapo.

He’d eventually go on to build an estimated 100 tunnels on the US-Mexico border. Some of them would take as much as 16 months and cost up to 5 million dollars.

Sounds like a lot of money to you, I know.

But for someone who was ranked by Forbes as the 1,140th richest man in the world in 2011, with a net worth of around US$1 billion, 5 million dollars was just operating expenses.
He was even named in Forbes magazine’s annual list of billionaires four times.

These tunnels weren’t just crude holes in the ground like underground coal mines, they were so sophisticated that they were lit by an electrical system, dug so deep that ground-penetrating radar couldn’t detect them and one even had an entrance covered by a pool table that lifted from the concrete floor by a hydraulic system.

Stuff of genius!

El Chapo would go on to become the most powerful drug trafficker in the world and the biggest drug lord of all time. He brought in more drugs into the United States than any other trafficker in history.

Although not as prominent in popular culture as Pablo Escobar, the U.S. DEA strongly believes he even surpassed the influence and reach of Pablo Escobar. 

But we all know what happens to drug dealers. El Chapo eventually met his fate when he got caught and sentenced to prison.

And so we’d have thought this would be the end of his tunnels, but no hombre.

In 2015, he escaped from his jail cell through a TUNNEL in his bathroom.

Another tunnel, Mr. Guzman? 😁

Aside from his legendary tunnels, he also moved drugs through trains and canned food.

I’ve seen it somewhere before that druglords and gangsters can teach us more about business than college or business school professors and I think that’s true.

Because while the rest of the world (internet marketers 😜) was focused on funnel building, El Chapo was focused on tunnel building. And can you blame him?

A wiseman once told me “The way up is down,” and looking at El Chapo’s story, I believe him.

Uche Okoro

Writer. Sales & Marketing. Business & Investing Afficionado.

Leave a Reply