One former poppy farmer who grew up in the area acknowledged Chapo's role in the horrific drug wars estimated to have killed well over 100,000 people across Mexico in the last decade, but suggested it was not really his fault."Maybe he's violent, but he's a product of his circumstances," the former farmer said. "That's how things are in the sierra."The part of the sierra where Chapo grew up lies about a four-hour drive from the town of Badiraguato, itself about one hour from the city of Culiacán, the capital of the state of Sinaloa.
'Maybe he's violent, but he's the product of his circumstances…That's how things are in the sierra'
People in the area where he grew up say they recall him going on a donkey to the nearby hamlet of La Palma where he would fill a box with oranges and take them back to La Tuna to sell them. A few years later, now in his teens, the future kingpin would take his burro on longer return trips to another hamlet called Huixiopa where he would buy soft drinks there at the general store of Doña Tonia to sell them back home.Zepeda describes these activities as a sign of both Chapo's desperation to escape the grinding poverty of his family and of his business acumen.
'For as long as I can remember he was always enterprising, always looking for ways to make money.'
'There is no one here to take his place and mantain order…We all really miss him'