The Radio Times logo

Meet World's Most Wanted fugitive Ismael 'El Mayo' Zambada - Mexican king pin who can't be traced

Mexican drug pin Zambada is the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, one of the most powerful drug trafficking organisations.

World's Most Wanted
Published: Wednesday, 5th August 2020 at 2:08 pm

Five of the world's most dangerous criminals will be explored in new Netflix documentary, World's Most Wanted.


The docuseries examines how five of the world’s most threatening offenders have remained at large – sometimes for more than 25 years – and why cops want to put them behind bars for good.

Mexican drug pin Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada is one of the five fugitives mentioned in the series.

So what exactly did he do? Here's everything you need to know about the drug lord, who hasn't been seen in years.

Who is Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada?

Mexican drug pin Zambada is the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, one of the world’s most powerful drug trafficking organisations.

Zambada, 72, worked with two other big players in the Sinaloa Cartel (Joaquín Guzmán Loera and Juan José Esparragoza Moreno), but after the former was arrested and with the latter supposedly dead, Zambada is now thought to be the leader.

After the crumbling of the Guadalajara Cartel in the 1980s, those involved in the crime network split into two groups.

Zambada was on the Sinaloa side of the split, which grew in terms of influence, power and money in the 1990s.

By the 2000s he had established his reputation, which according to his wife came with lots of "war".

Before he assumed leadership of the entire cartel, he served as the logistical coordinator for its Zambada-García faction, which has overseen the trafficking of cocaine and heroin into Chicago and other US cities by train, ship, jet, or narco-submarine.

It's thought that his old age and diabetes could mean his position within the cartel will soon be affected.

The World's Most Wanted
World's Most Wanted expert talks about Mayo Zambada Netflix

What is he accused of?

Zambada is accused of being a major stakeholder in the international trafficking of high class drugs.

The State Department reported: "In the late 1990s, Zambada-Garcia emerged as one of the strongest drug traffickers in Mexico, capable of transporting multi-ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana and multi-kilogram quantities of heroin."

He is thought to traffic drugs to Arizona, California, Chicago, and New York, with an $11 Billion earning a year according to Bloomberg.

Where is he now?

In 2003, the FBI indicated him for a range of crimes, but he wasn't caught.

Zamdaba has managed to keep a low profile and hasn't been seen in years. Insider reported that he is possibly hidden in the mountains of Mexico's Sinaloa region.

He strangely interviewed with Proceso in 2010, in which he confessed he'd consider suicide to avoid jail time, saying: "I don't know if I'd have the courage to kill myself. I'd like to think so, that I'd kill myself."


The World’s Most Wanted is available to stream on Netflix from August 5th. Check out our lists of the best series on Netflix and the best movies on Netflix, or see what else is on with our TV Guide.


Sponsored content