Sample Case Study Paper on Joaquín Guzmán


The paper functions as a case study of criminal concepts applicable to Joaquin Guzman popularly known as “El Chapo.” From humble beginnings, he managed to mature the Mexican Sinaloa syndicate perfecting his art of smuggling drugs into the United States, Europe, and other territories. He acted as a conduit for the Columbian drugs establishing a detailed and disciplined smuggling network. The study utilizes his background to validate incentives of criminal behavior highlighting both factors beyond him and those carried out from well-thought-out decisions. Joaquin Guzman is a currently a very powerful individual, managing to escape from a maximum security prison by the help of his mignons. He is, therefore, a case deserving of critical investigation.










Probably the most elusive and influential drug lord of all time, Joaquin Guzman or “El Chapo” meaning ‘shorty’ is the richest and a powerful kingpin in the drug world (Univision, 2013). His multi-escapes from maximum prisons assisted by his organization- the Sinaloa crime syndicate– can be quoted as the most ingenious not repeated and not seen with any criminal in history. The drug lord is attributed to one of the greats in the criminal world such as El Capone and quoted as the 10th richest man in Mexico. Guzman descended from La Tuna from a town in Mexico. His father was a livestock keeper but this only served as a front to his opium poppy business. He was reckless and violent man to say the least. The story and background of Guzman is not uncommon and hence, the motivation to critically investigate through theory his background and motivations to his successful life of crime. It cannot be denied that his background contributed to a large part participation and motivation to be involved in crime.

Biological Theory

A theory can be defined as a connotation of meaning that intends to offer a description, explanation or prediction of an event. The biological theory acclaims the fact that the founding determinants of behavior are eked in physiology and are somewhat beyond an individual’s control (Criminal Justice, 2015). However, it can also be argued that decisions made are a process of cognitive or rational review by an entity and, therefore, not determined by a large part by the inherent characterizations of an individual. El Chapo was born to Guzman, a violent father whose main motivations were women, drinking and a fervent grower of opium and poppy. Guzman cannot be said to be the kind of criminal his son turned out to be. However, it can be concluded using the famous saying, “an apple does not fall far from the tree” to mean that El Chapo was a product of his father and only taking his characteristics a notch further.

The early background of Joaquin tells it all. Guzman was a violent man, frequently beating his children and mother mercilessly. This sort of actions hardened “El Chapo” as he was later forced to stand up for his family against his father. Joaquin can be said to have taken up his violent nature from this man. He was known to kill off smugglers on the head for being late on deliveries, and this made him popular and feared. The cartel wars and killings also show his violent nature with murder charges against him during his arrests. He acted in a brutal manner against the conflict with the Tijuana cartel leaving behind a lot of bodies. Similar to his father, Joaquin and his cousins initiated a project to grow marijuana in an endeavor to make more money for them (Gerardo, 2014). However, this was not enough for El Chapo and through his uncle- he was introduced into organized crime. It clearly shows that the Guzman clan or family was into criminal activity. Therefore, the biological theory can be forwarded to justify the nature of Joaquin Guzman. The drug lord’s children also took up the felonious behavior of their father.

The theory can be extended to the El Chapo’s physique.  According to Lombrosian atavistic characteristics of natural criminals and Sheldon physiques and temperaments, El Chapo can be profiled as a “born criminal (Lombroso, 2006).” His stocky nature and close-set eyes are some of the characteristics the individual has that are accrued to criminal behavior (Nick, 2012). In regards to the study by Sheldon, Joaquin can be classed as an ectomorph- born delinquents that have physical characteristics such as short, fat, round and soft (Sheldon, 1949). However, Lombroso also quoted non-physical characteristics such as lack of a sense of right and wrong and tolerance to pain (Lombroso, 2006). El Chapo was familiar with pain and merciless beatings by his father at a young age. He learned to outgrow the beatings and started standing up for the rest of his family leading to his father chasing him away to his grandfather.

The positivist theories can be said to interlink as they are grounded on a notion of determinism and explain behavior through an evaluation of individual characteristics. The biological theory can be followed by some of these theories to characterize the future of Joaquin in criminality through sociological theories. However, based on determinism, the theories based their arguments on external forces dictating the behavior or personality outcome of an individual- It cannot be denied that there is a sense of free will in each and every individual that brings about soft determinism into perspective. The story of Joaquin can be said to be distinctively characterized by the biological theory coupled with the social disorganization premise. He grew in a not-so-perfect family with only his mother in support and their emotional anchor.

Sociological disorganization theory

One of the most notable facts about a crime is that it is randomly distributed across neighborhoods within and outside cities. However, it can be clearly established and implicitly definable to most folks the locations and areas that are most likely to experience most crimes. The social disorganization theory connotes or is argued through this premise and expresses the non-random nature of criminal activities and criminal mindsets (Rengifo, 2010). The theory connects actions of crimes and criminal activity to ecological factors (Bursik, 2006). It suggests that acts of a person’s later criminal activities can be tied to the residential location, and it is as significant if not more important than an individual’s physical attributes. The social disorganization theory articulates a narrowed approach to the deviance and criminal activities at locations that have failed and lack in structural factors and social interactions.

Joaquin was born in La Tuna, Sinaloa Mexico,a location known to many as the place where most farmers grow opium. It is evidenced by his participation in early life through his father who was both an opium and poppy grower. El Chapo wanted to be different in managing finances than his father and, therefore, joined up with his cousins to start-off their marijuana farm. It was successful such that he was now able to support his family financially. The introduction to drug trade was done at an early age due to exposure of Guzman to the drug trade at an early age. It implicitly depicts a breakdown in structural factors and hence, stimulating a delinquent subculture. Guzman had dropped out of school to sell oranges and straight from the third grade he joined his father in his trade. It indicates a social disease among the people of La Tuna acclaiming the fact that social disorganization did play a part to his future criminal persona.

Social problems perspective

The social problem perspective is the insinuation that the underlying social problems such as poverty, family violence, depravity in social interactions and the breakdown of traditional social institutions can be accrued to criminal behavior. The poverty stricken Guzman family needed a helper because of the deficiency of the breadwinner, who after a bumper marijuana harvest, always succumbed to women and binge drinking. El Chapo rose to the occasion being the eldest and a victim of his father’s majority beatings.  It incited his involvement in opium farming and later taken up by his uncle and introduced to the cartel from where he commenced smuggling drugs. Poverty and family violence were motivators or incentives to his later criminal future. El Chapo had to travel 60 miles to his classes that he later dropped out in the third grade as aforementioned. There were no permanent teachers and, this, showed a deficiency in intellectual growth of children living in the area such as Guzman.

Moral development theory

The moral development theory posits that the committing of crimes is instigated when individuals do not complete their intellectual development from childhood to adulthood. The moral development theory by Kohlberg expresses six discrete maturity or development stages. The first phase in the developmental theory of the researcher is the right to obedience and avoidance of punishment (Kohlberg, 1981). The second stage involves developing responsibility for individual self and allowing others to do the same (Kohlberg, 1981). The two express the pre-conventional stages in development (Kohlberg, 1981). Stage three involves the maturing of concern for others, and it insinuates goods intentions (Kohlberg, 1981). The fourth stage involves upholding the social order and individual being able to view things from the societal point of view (Kohlberg, 1981). They both indicate conventional levels in his classifications. The fifth insinuates the development of a feeling of obligation to the society, with the sixth being the moral rightness of behavior, both being the principled adult levels (Kohlberg, 1981). From the stages indicated, Kohlberg expresses the fact that deviance can be as a result of developmental interruptions or failure.

The Guzman case can accrue to interruptions at the pre-conventional and conventional levels of maturity mostly. As a child, he was put through a lot by his father, received beatings from him and was forced to drop out school in the third grade. The violent behavior of his father prompted him to ran away, move to his grandparents’ home and decide to stand up for himself and his mother during his father’s rampages. Due to his father’s recklessness and indiscipline, El Chapo was forced to pick up the role of the provider for his family that marked his individual and decisive entry into the drug world. In his 20s, he was introduced to the cartels- Hector El Guero Palma- and became a smuggler of cocaine and other drugs into the United States through land and sea.

Social structure theory

It defines the relationships among social groups or institutions and characterizes the whole group and not the members of the group. The economic arrangement of the folks in Guzman’s hometown involved themselves in the growth of opium poppy throughout their lives. Everyone in the family involved themselves in the growth and sale of opium poppy in the commercial centers. El Chapo and his brother went to harvest the product in the hills, and it can be highlighted that his venture involved his family members in the form of his cousins. They all participated in the community’s activities that involved the growth and sale of opium poppy and marijuana. He, therefore, through the economic activity of the community was made well aware or familiar with the drug trade business. It can be suggested that the folks in Guzman’s hometown represented a poor social class.

Social responsibility perspective

Each and every individual has free will to make their decisions. Guzman began the selling of oranges after dropping the failed social institution that is, his school. This was not enough for him, and he decided to be an apprentice to his father’s trade. Disappointed by the way his father used to spend their money; he began growing marijuana with his cousins and ended up still not satisfied with the arrangement. He progressed to become a smuggler for “El Guero” and decisive in his actions and the way he carried out the operations handed to him, he became somebody significant in the cartel and had direct contact with the then Mexican drug lord. The account shows the direction Guzman took was well thought out and followed by ambition to succeed in the trade.


The success of Joaquin Guzman or “El Chapo” is not similar to many. He can be said to be a legend when it comes to the drug trade and escaping prisons. This year the drug lord became a free man after escaping yet another Mexican maximum prison in legendary fashion. He grosses over one billion dollars in drug money with a well- detailed network of distribution that extends to Africa. His largest market is in Europe and the United States and is quoted as the most wanted person of interest in the Chicago area, with a 5 million dollar bounty from the Americans. His demeanor speaks volumes- a dangerous man indeed. In his arrests, Guzman continues to be charged with murder, money laundering and conspiracy but has never served his time fully. He was first put on the wanted list after the death of the cardinal shot at the airport. However, this was not a crime orchestrated by him but against him by the Tijuana cartel.His criminal activity as highlighted throughout the paper can be elucidated through criminal theories that intend to find the motivation behind his criminal persona. He descended from very humble beginnings a rural community and a family that was in trouble from the violent and indiscipline father. As depicted, this factor was deterministic through social disorganization theory where there existed total breakdown in the social interaction system creating a delinquent subculture. The biological theory profiles him as having inherent characteristics that may have been passed down by the nature of his father. The social problem perspective does not shy in expressing the social problems such as pervasive family violence and poverty that may have acted as progressions to his criminal life.The social responsibility perspective puts into perspective that Guzman had a choice, but his was full involvement in criminal activities. The theories overlap, in some of the cases such as the breakdown of social systems and behavior created from social vices such as the father’s violent behavior. However, the highlighted theories are critical of Joaquin Guzman’s criminal articulation.


Bursik, R. J. (2006). Social disorganization and theories of crime and deliquency: Problems and Prospects. Criminology, 519-552.

Criminal Justice. (2015). Biological Theories of Crime.

Gerardo, R. (2014, February 22). The Eternal Fugitive: El Chapo Territory.

Kohlberg, L. (1981). The philosophy of Moral Development . San Fransisco: Harper and Row.

Lombroso, C. (2006). Criminal Man. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Nick, A. (2012, March 13). “Net Closing” on Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo’ Guzman” .


Sheldon, W. H. (1949). Varieties of Deliquent Youth: An introduction to Correctional Psychiatry. New York: Harper and Brothers.

Univision. (2013, November 3). Who Is El Chapo Guzman, Mexico’s Most Elusive Drug Lor