Joaquín Guzmán, 61, could spend the rest of his life behind bars after being convicted following three-month New York trial
Associated Press in New York
Tue 12 Feb 2019 17.41 GMTLast modified on Tue 12 Feb 2019 18.40 GMT
Mexico’s most notorious drug lord,Joaquin el Chapo J, who rose from poverty in rural Mexico to run a global drug empire and amass billions of dollars, has been convicted on drug-trafficking charges.
Guzmán faced a litany of charges in his trial in Brooklyn – and his guilty verdict could put the 61-year-old behind bars for decades.N jurors – whose identities were kept secret – reached a verdict after deliberating six days in the case, sorting through what authorities called an “avalanche” of evidence that Guzmán and his Sinaloa drug cartel made billions in profits by smuggling tons of cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana into the US.Advertisem
As the judge read the verdict, Guzman stared at the jury straight-faced. When the jury was discharged, he leaned back in his chair to catch the eye of his wife, who gave him a subtle thumbs-up.
US district judge Brian Cogan lauded the jury’s meticulous attention to detail and the “remarkable” approach it took toward deliberations. Cogan said it made him “very proud to be an American”.
Guzmán is set to be sentenced on 25 June.
Evidence showed drugs poured into the US through secret tunnels or hidden in tanker trucks, concealed in the undercarriage of passenger cars and packed in rail cars passing through legitimate points of entry.
The prosecution’s case included the testimony of several turncoats and other witnesses. Among them were Guzmán’s former Sinaloa lieutenants, a computer encryption expert and a Colombian cocaine supplier who underwent extreme plastic surgery to disguise his appearance.
One Sinaloa insider described Mexican workers getting contact highs while packing cocaine into thousands of jalapeño cans shipments that totaled 25 to 30 tons of cocaine worth $500m each year.Quick guide
Mexico’s war on drugs
Another testified how Guzmán sometimes acted as his own sicario, or hitman, punishing a Sinaloan who dared to work for another cartel by kidnapping him and beating himk and having his men bury the victim while he was still alive, gasping for air.
The defence case lasted 30 minutes d. Guzman’s lawyers did not deny his crimes as much as argue he was a fall guy for government witnesses who were more evil than he was.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman urged the jury in closing arguments not to believe government witnesses who “lie, steal, cheat, deal drugs and kill people.”
Deliberations were complicated by the trial’s vast scope. Jurors were tasked with making 53 decisions about whether prosecutors have proven different elements of the case.
The trial cast a harsh glare on the corruption that allowed the cartel to flourish. Colombian trafficker Alex Cifuentes caused a stir by testifying that former Mexican lresident Enrique Peña Nieto took a 100 million dollar bribe from Guzman t. Peña Nieto denied it, but the allegation fit a theme: politicians, army commanders, police and prosecutors, all on the take.
The tension at times was cut by some of the trial’s sideshows, such as the sight of Guzman and his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, showing up in matching burgundy velvet blazers in a gesture of solidarity. Another day, a Chapo-size actor who played the kingpin in the TV series Narcos: Mexico came to watch, telling reporters that seeing the defendant flash him a smile was “surreal”.
While the trial was dominated by Guzman’s persona as a near-mythical outlaw who carried a diamond-encrusted handgun and stayed one step ahead of the law, the jury never heard from Guzman himself, except when he told the judge he wouldn’t testify.
But his sing-song voice filled the courtroom, thanks to recordings of intercepted phone calls. “Amigo!” he said to a cartel distributor in Chicago. “Here at your service.”
One of the trial’s most memorable tales came from girlfriend Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez Lopez, who testified she was in bed in a safe house with an on-the-run Guzman in 2014 when Mexican marines started breaking down his door. She said Guzman led her to a trap door beneath a bathtub that opened up to a tunnel that allowed them to escape.
Asked what he was wearing, she replied: “He was naked. He took off running. He left us behind.”
The defendant had previously escaped from jail by hiding in a laundry bin in 2001. He then got an escort from crooked police officers into Mexico City before retreating to one of his many mountainside hideaways. In 2014, he pulled off another jail break, escaping through tunnel
Even when Guzman was recaptured in 2016 before his extradition to the United States, he was plotting another escape, prosecutor Andrea Goldbarg said in closing arguments.
“Why? Because he is guilty and he never wanted to be in a position where he would have to answer for his crimes,” she told the jury. “He wanted to avoid sitting right there. In front of you.”
Story by :https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/12/el-chapo-mexican-drug-kingpin-guilty-drug-trafficking