People gotta do their drugs.
El Chapo, the Mexican cartel leader that escaped prison through a mile-long tunnel and was later interviewed by Sean Penn for some bizarre reason, had more planes seized by the Mexican government than most airlines even own. Chapo's fleet was on fleek.
Before his arrest, El Chapo and his Sinaloa Cartel stood as the largest distributor of illegal drugs in the world. To maintain his status as the world's foremost blow hook-up, El Chapo established a complex distribution network that utilized his ridiculous number of planes and hidden landing strips throughout Mexico and Latin America. Of course that's in addition to you know – paying off everyone in the government like drug lords tend to do.
So how many planes did El Chapo have … 50, 100, 200?
From 2006-2015 the Mexican government seized 586 airplanes and 13 helicopters from Guzman. That's just the number of seized airplanes. Obviously if El Chapo was able to keep his cartel running successfully the actual number of planes in his fleet was much higher.
586 airplanes is more than most airlines even own. In comparison – JetBlue has a fleet of 217 planes, Spirit has 85, and Frontier has 60 planes – for a grand total of just 362 planes. UPS which is an actual shipping company that does billions of dollars a year in legitimate business only has 237 planes.
The largest airline in Mexico operates a fleet of 127 planes. If Guzman had operated a legit airline he would have had at a minimum 4.6x as many planes as their competitor. But legitimate businesses are boring and have to pay taxes. No serious entrepreneur wants to deal with that. Selling billions of dollars of illegal drugs has got to be way easier.
Guzman's cartel balled so hard that they'd use ex-commercial Boeing 727's that were bought for $800,000 each. When a 727 is not being used to ship drugs internationally they carry up to 189 passengers. In place of 189 passengers the Sinaloa Cartel would fill the plane up with 33,000 lbs of cocaine and fly to one of their thousands of secret airstrips throughout Latin America. Boeing 727's can fly up to 570 mph making them and extremely efficient way to ship a whole lot of drugs really fast.
Guzman and his cartel would regularly abandon aircraft when the feds were on their trail. What difference does it make if you abandon an $800,000 plane when you are making millions of dollars a day?
Today a Mexican judge ruled that El Chapo can be extradited to the United States for trial so things aren't looking great for him now. Bummer. With so many planes why didn't he just excape to Mexico like American criminals tend to do?
On an unrelated note – Frontier once lost my bag in Houston and put it on a plane to Sacramento instead of Denver. How is that even possible? With El Chapo at the helm that would never have happened.