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Old 02-12-2019, 01:31 PM
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Default Re: World’s worst drug lord escapes Mexican prison through tunnel


El Chapo found guilty on all counts at trial
By Emily Saul
February 12, 2019 | 12:18pm | Updated

A Brooklyn jury on Tuesday found Mexican kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman guilty of running a massive, violent trafficking operation that for decades pumped billions of dollars worth of drugs into the U.S.

The drug lord looked stunned as the panel handed down the verdict on its sixth day of deliberations — convicting him on all counts, including operating a continuing criminal enterprise, use of firearms and various charges of conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine, heroin and marijuana.

Dressed in a gray suit, Guzman then looked for his wife, ex-beauty queen Emma Coronel Aispuro, in the gallery — who flashed him a supportive thumbs up as her eyes welled with tears.

“Today I’m not going to cry. Why? No one has died here,” the 29-year-old told a reporter in Spanish after being offered a tissue, according to El Diario.

The jurors deliberated for almost 35 hours — peppering Brooklyn federal court Judge Brian Cogan with requests to review witness testimony and questions about the charges — and Cogan told the panelists their diligence made him “very proud to be an American.”

Guzman, who twice escaped prison in Mexico, now faces up to life behind bars. He is set to be sentenced on June 25.

“It is a sentence from which there is no escape and no return,” US Attorney Richard Donohue said outside the court.

“This conviction is a victory for the am people, who have suffered so long and so much while Guzman made billions pouring poison over our southern border …There are those who say the war on drugs is not worth fighting. Those people are wrong.”

Homeland Security Investigations’ Special Agent in Charge Angel Melendez added that Chapo’s conviction will send a message to other kingpins: “You are not unreachable, you are not untouchable, and your day will come.”

Meanwhile, defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said his team “fought like complete savages” for Guzman, but acknowledged the evidence against his client “was overwhelming.”

Lichtman said Chapo remained “upbeat” after the damning verdict.

“He knew the odds. This was a case that was literally — literally — an avalanche of evidence. So much we could barely wade through it,” said the attorney.

He said the defense would appeal.

Tuesday’s decision followed a mammoth 11-week trial with testimony from more than 50 prosecution witnesses — including 14 former associates of Guzman’s who took the stand against him — and a 30-minute, single-witness defense case.

The historic trial often unfolded more like a telenovela than a prosecution — chronicling the 61-year-old’s rise to leader of the infamous Sinaloa Cartel over the course of three decades, as witnesses detailed his pivot from a lavish lifestyle in the 1990s to hiding out in the mountains, on the run from authorities, the following decade.

Testimony from those closest to Guzman ranged from comical to chilling, including a naked escape from law enforcement through a tunnel network he’d built under his bathtub — and the cold-blooded murders he himself committed.

The accounts painted Guzman as a ruthless and calculating drug lord, who was paranoid to the point of obsession, going so far as to install spyware on the devices used by his associates, wife and mistresses.

Thanks to the kingpin’s snooping, the FBI managed to score access to not only those communications but also Guzman’s own encrypted servers after agents flipped his IT guy.

That access, in addition to other intercepts and a trove of belongings the kingpin abandoned at an oceanside mansion during a raid, were critical in his conviction.

The trial also served as a primer on the bloody turf wars across Mexico, as rival cartels battled for unencumbered access to the United States — and its appetite for cocaine.

Prosecutors detailed in opening statements how Guzman’s organization had trafficked in more than 328 million lines of cocaine — enough to provide more than a line for every person in the US.

Over the course of the trial, jurors were shown stockpiles of seized kilos, in addition to AK-47 rifles, grenades, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons discovered during various raids.

The panel also heard of rampant corruption across the country, ranging from bribes paid to low-level law enforcement to allegations of multimillion-dollar payments that implicated the current Mexican president and his predecessors.

Guzman’s defense spent the case attempting to undermine the integrity of the cooperating witnesses who took the stand against Guzman.

His lawyers repeatedly characterized him as a scapegoat who’d been persecuted, while his at-large partner, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, was allowed to run free.

The jurors have been kept partially sequestered, and anonymous, for their safety.
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