It wasn’t long ago that Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera was gracing the pages of Forbes illustrious billionaire list alongside the likes of Bill Gates and Carlos Slim. But now it seems the self-made founder and CEO of Mexico’s most famous criminal empire has fallen on some hard times. So hard are these times, in fact, that El Chapo has declared himself too broke to afford a lawyer, and is relying on representation from public defenders as he prepares for a high-profile US federal trial.

What on earth could be the cause of El Chapo financial malaise? Bad investments? A pesky gambling addiction? One of those African prince email scams? It all sounds highly unlikely, but when you consider the fact that the United States government is looking to seize $14 billion in allegedly ill-gotten assets from the bandit prince of Sinaloa, his poor schlub routine starts to make a lot more sense.

Understandably, the District Attorney trying El Chapo’s case wasn’t buying it, and requested that Judge Brian Cogan investigate the drug kingpin’s finances to verify his claims. Cogan was apparently unmoved by the request, and suggested that the federal government do their own investigation if they’re interested in verifying El Chapo’s finances. For his part, a simple signed declaration claiming insufficient funds would be quite enough.

With what promises to be a long, colorful trial ahead, these are surely just a few introductory fireworks from one of the past century’s most astute criminal masterminds. Let the chess game begin.

H/T Sopitas