Top 10 Notorious Real Life Narcos



Top 10 Notorious Real Life Narcos

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Q.V. Hough.

Many of the most powerful drug lords in history are also some of the most infamous drug lords in the world. From El Chapo Guzman, Pablo Escobar and Frank Lucas, to Griselda Blanco, Felix Mitchell and George Jung, these real life drugs lords are some of the worst narcos of all time. WatchMojo counts down ten of the most famous drug kingpins ever, who spread drugs like cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin through the streets of Colombia, Mexico, the United States of America and more.

Special thanks to our users QVHough, Sleep Stranger, Vitor Emanuel Cardoso, Prodgaming, MikeMJPMUNCH, bigpapazagon, Architect2015, Aldo Agazzi, Chris Santiago, Antonio Bojorquez and urbanwatch69 for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%20Ten%20Drug%20Lords

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Script written by Q.V. Hough

These are the undisputed and uncompromising bosses of the narcotics world. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Narcos.

For this list, we’re looking at various men – and women – that have heavily influenced their native countries - and the world as a whole - through the illegal drug trade.

#10: Ismael Zambada García

This narco has been called “Mexico’s Last Drug Kingpin”, and with good reason. Otherwise known as “El Mayo”, Zambada has sole leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, previously run in association with the likes of El Chapo. Originally a farmer, Ismael Zambada Garcia later immersed himself in the trafficking of Colombian cocaine. In fact, his career dates back to the early days of the Colombian drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, making this Mexican drug lord a mythical name in the business. He’s never been arrested, and he’s been known to physically alter his appearance through plastic surgery. Decade after decade, Garcia looms over the Sinaloa cartel, while somehow evading authorities.

#9: Arturo Beltrán Leyva

As the man that reportedly introduced “El Chapo” to the drug trafficking trade, this narco was originally groomed by the “The Lord of the Skies,” Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Alongside his four brothers, Arturo Beltran Leyva protected the Sinaloa Cartel as the leader of the hit squad “Fuerzas Especiales de Arturo”. Yet after a 2008 beef with “El Chapo” and the subsequent murder of El Chapo’s son, Leyva and company aligned with other factions while further establishing themselves through complete violence and political corruption. As the heat intensified and a 2 million dollar reward was put out, Leyva found himself cornered by the Mexican Marines, resulting in one of the more controversial Narco deaths of the 21st century.

#8: Felix Mitchell

Before cocaine took over the United States in the 1980s, this Oakland native was the preeminent heroin distributor in his native California. Leading the “69 Mob,” Felix Mitchell aka “Felix the Cat” amassed such power that his lifestyle inspired a wealth of gangs, all gunning for the elite status associated with the Oakland narco. Mitchell’s 1985 conviction and subsequent jailhouse murder essentially opened the door for even more Bay Area violence, defying the expectations of the government. Meanwhile, international news coverage of his funeral procession only cemented his status among dealers and the community at large.

#7: Frank Lucas

Famously portrayed by Denzel Washington in the 2007 film “American Gangster,” this North Carolina native handled his business directly and violently. While the Ridley Scott film took some creative license with its depiction of Frank Lucas, there’s no denying that he was a larger than life character with a knack for surviving. Even with numerous jail stints during the ‘70s and ‘80s, Lucas somehow managed to survive the perils of the drug industry, and claimed to have made over a million dollars per day. Despite all the glitz and glamor, the massive unloading of heroin upon the streets of New York City vastly affected an entire generation.

#6: Griselda Blanco

Known as “The Godmother” among other names, this Colombian narco preceded the rise of Pablo Escobar. Although Griselda Blanco is mostly known for her Miami-Medellin connection, she was originally the leader of a New York City drug ring during the mid-70s. Reportedly the mastermind of up to 200 murders, Blanco’s lack of empathy and $80 million per month distribution network led to some turbulent years in south Florida, as the “Cocaine Cowboys” dominated the Miami drug scene. Even in the face of a 1985 arrest and subsequent conviction, Griselda managed to maintain a longstanding presence in the cocaine industry until she was ultimately killed in a 2012 drive-by shooting after a return to Medellin.

#5: Khun Sa

Undoubtedly the most famous drug lord of the infamous “Golden Triangle,” this narco was less about glitz and more about guerilla warfare – though the Burma-born Chang Chi-fu’s moniker, Khun Sa, which means Prince Prosperous, may suggest otherwise. And as the commander in chief of his own army, Khun Sa evolved into the definitive opium dealer. He also worked with the aforementioned Frank Lucas to bring 90% pure drug product into the United States, effectively hooking even more addicts due to the substantial quality increase. Khun Sa supposedly surrendered to authorities in 1996, but was never arrested; meaning he managed to stay a free man in self-imposed “retirement” until his death in 2007.

#4: Amado Carrillo Fuentes

In 2014, the leader of the violent Juarez Cartel, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, was arrested, ending a turbulent reign over Mexico. But it was his older brother, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, that originally made the organization such a threat to their peers in the cocaine industry. Known as “El Senor de los Cielos,” or “Lord of the Skies,” Amada Carillo Fuentes took control in 1993 upon the murder of boss Rafael Aguilar Guajardo. Fuentes’ time in the drug trade earned him as much as $25B, while his jet fleet used for laundering money back and forth between Mexico and Colombia earned him respect, if not notoriety. In a strange twist of events, however, Fuentes mysteriously passed away during a 1997 plastic surgery procedure, while the doctors involved paid the ultimate price.

#3: ‘Freeway’ Rick Ross

Not to be confused with the rapper Rick Ross, this is the man that controlled the Los Angeles drug trade for the entirety of the ‘80s. In fact, the influence of Freeway Rick Ross extended deep into American pop culture, as he was the most prolific cocaine distributor thanks to a Nicaraguan connection. What began as a Southern Californian operation evolved into a billion dollar business, with Ross becoming directly tied to the Iran-Contra affair, as depicted in the 2014 film “Kill the Messenger.” It's safe to say, there’s never been an American narco more talked about than Freeway Rick Ross.

#2: Joaquín Guzmán [aka ‘El Chapo’]

Since the late ‘70s, this elusive drug lord has been affiliated with organized crime. As the kingpin of the Sinaloa Cartel, El Chapo has been infamously connected to the influx of cocaine in the United States. Even so, he’s become somewhat of a mythical figure for his brazen escapes from prison and certainly for his controversial interview with Sean Penn. Over the course of several decades, Joaquin Guzman Loera established himself as a vicious and uncompromising narco, showing no mercy for his enemies while accumulating unfathomable power and wealth in the process. Known as “The Last Godfather,” El Chapo’s reach extends far beyond his native Mexico.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few other notable narcos.
- Christopher Coke
- Curtis Warren aka ‘Cocky Curtis’
- Rocco Morabito

#1: Pablo Escobar

In life, this Colombian was a folk hero to some and public enemy #1 for others. And in death, Pablo Escobar’s legacy has been extensively documented, both in film and television. In his rise to power, “El Padrino” capitalized fully on the public’s wants and needs, manipulating those around him while silencing anyone who posed a threat. As a result, Escobar’s unprecedented empire made Colombia the central headquarters for a worldwide import/export operation, with international authorities at the mercy of something they didn’t fully understand. But as Pablo Escobar continued to push back against law enforcement, law enforcement pushed even harder, leading to a violent yet final confrontation in 1993 in which he was killed by Colombian National Police.

Do you agree with our list? Who do you think is the most influential narco on our list? For more addictive Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to