Mexico's 'Chapo' is Chicago's new Public Enemy No. 1

Move over Al Capone: Chicago has declared Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman the city's public enemy number one.

The boss of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, whose nickname means "Shorty" in Mexican slang, became just the second criminal to be labeled as the Windy City's top foe.

Guzman, the Chicago Crime Commission said, "has easily surpassed the carnage and social destruction that was caused by Capone." The kingpin is accused of using Chicago "as his drug trafficking hub for the Midwest."

Guzman, who has made it into Forbes magazine's list of billionaires, was captured in Guatemala in 1993 but escaped from Mexican prison in 2001 by hiding inside a laundry basket.

His cartel has allegedly trafficked 1.5 to 2 tonnes of cocaine through Chicago per month, and he is wanted in Chicago on charges of international drug trafficking conspiracy along with 35 other defendants, the commission said.

Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said Friday that capturing Guzman "is the most important objective" of the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office in December.

"But we are not neglecting the other (drug lords) and for that reason we will look at this at a regional level because there are others who generate a lot of problems and violence," Osorio Chong told MVS radio.

The Sinaloa syndicate, based in the eponymous northwestern state, has fought a brutal turf war in Mexico against the Zetas drug cartel.

More than 70,000 people have died in drug-related violence since 2006, when then president Felipe Calderon sent in federal army troops to fight the cartels.

The independent Chicago Crime Commission, a business-supported watchdog group founded in 1919, gave the public enemy title to Al Capone in 1930, and until now it had "yet to witness a criminal worthy of the same moniker."

Chicago-based Capone was one of the best known US gangsters during the 1920-1933 alcohol Prohibition period.

He was convicted of tax evasion charges in 1931, jailed and released from prison in 1939. But he never returned to Chicago and died in Florida in 1947.