Technically, Osama bin Laden may not have been the world’s ‘most wanted man’ - there’s no such official list – but he was without doubt the most well-known and notorious criminal on the planet.
After he masterminded the September 11 attacks he became the subject of a ten-year manhunt by American military and intelligence forces that undoubtedly cost billions of dollars. It’s highly unlikely that in all human history that so many resources have gone into capturing (or in this case killing) one person.
All of which raises the question; now that he’s dead, who will replace him as the world’s most sought after felon?
[Story: Osama bin Laden conspiracy theories]
With no official round-up that’s recognised around the world, the next best thing is the ‘World's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives’ list published by American media company Forbes every year. They have worked with law enforcement agencies in the US and around the globe to identify a top ten. All had been charged or indicted for their crimes, and until the events of last weekend in Pakistan, bin Laden was top of the pile.
1. Joaquin Guzman Loera
With Osama gone Mexican drug lord Guzman now moves up to take the number one spot. Nicknamed ‘El Chapo’, meaning ‘Shorty’ (he’s only 5ft 6 inches tall), Guzman heads up the Sinaloa Cartel, which specialises in importing cocaine into the US.
He became Mexico’s most powerful drug kingpin when his rival, Osiel Cárdenas of the Gulf Cartel, was arrested in 2003. Since then his organisation has fought bloody wars with other gangs over transport corridors into the US that have lead to thousands of murders.
Mexican and US media sources also claim Guzman has infiltrated the highest levels of the Mexican government, who may have helped him destroy other cartels.
Nonetheless, he was arrested back in 1993 for drug trafficking and bribery but when Mexican courts ruled he could be extradited to the United States in 2001, Guzman bribed guards at the Puente Grande prison to smuggle him out in a laundry truck. More than 70 prison officials were later arrested over the incident.
He’s had several run-ins with the Mexican military since, but has so far evaded capture. Interpol and the US government are also tracking Guzman, with the latter placing a $5million dollar bounty on his head.
He’s currently ranked by Forbes to be 60th most powerful person in the world, and has an estimated fortune of $1 billion.
The next four places on the Forbes list are all also crime bosses, though they hail from all over the globe.
2. Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar
Kaskar heads D-Company - an organised crime family in Mumbai. Besides the usual cocktail of drug trafficking, arms smuggling and murder, he’s also been accused of associating with al-Qaeda and of masterminding the 1993 Bombay bombings, which killed 257 people. There are rumours he’s on the run in Pakistan and that he’s had plastic surgery to alter his appearance.
3. Semion Mogilevich
Some law enforcement agencies believe he’s the ‘boss of bosses’ of every Russian crime syndicate in the world. He’s on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list for a $150m share fraud in the US.
4. Matteo Messina Denaro
Denaro is a Sicilian mafia boss who took charge of the Cosa Nostra after the arrest of Bernardo Provenzano in 2006. Reportedly a renowned playboy with a fondness for Ray Bans, he’s been on the run since 2003.
5. Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov
Uzbek mobster Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov completes the Forbes top five. Despite also reportedly controlling a vast criminal empire, he’s most famous for allegedly bribing judges to favour the Russian figure skating team at the 2002 Winter Olympics, denying the Canadian pair a deserved gold medal.