‘El Chapo’ Guzmán convicted in New York of drug trafficking

Verdict could put 61-year-old behind bars for rest of his life in a high-security US prison

Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has been convicted of drug-trafficking charges at a trial in New York. Video: Reuters

 

Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has been convicted of drug-trafficking charges at a trial in New York.

The verdict reached on the sixth day of jury deliberations could put the 61-year-old behind bars for the rest of his life in a high-security US prison selected to thwart another one of the escapes that embarrassed his native country.

Guzmán (61), was found guilty on all 10 criminal counts, including drug trafficking and engaging in a criminal enterprise as leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel.

The 12 jurors had begun deliberating in federal court in Brooklyn on February 4th. The lack of a verdict in the first week seemed to please Guzmán, who grinned and hugged one of his lawyers before he was led out of the courtroom.

Guzmán was accused of trafficking tonnes of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine into the United States as leader of the cartel, named for his home state in northwestern Mexico.

Emma Coronel Aispuro (centre), wife of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, arrives for his trial at the US Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York. Photograph: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images
Emma Coronel Aispuro (centre), wife of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, arrives for his trial at the US Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York. Photograph: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

Guzmán escaped twice from maximum-security Mexican prisons before his final capture in January 2016. He was extradited to the US a year later. Small in stature, Guzmán ’s nickname means “Shorty”.

His defence has argued that Guzmán was set up as a “fall guy” by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, a drug kingpin from Sinaloa who remains at large. Prosecutors have said Guzmán and Zambada were partners.

Jeffrey Lichtman, attorney for Joaquín Guzmán, the Mexican drug lord known as “El Chapo”, arrives at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse during the trial of Guzman in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Jeffrey Lichtman, attorney for Joaquín Guzmán, the Mexican drug lord known as “El Chapo”, arrives at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse during the trial of Guzman in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

More than 50 witnesses testified during the 11-week trial, including 14 former associates of Guzmán who had agreed to co-operate with US prosecutors.

The co-operators, most of whom had pleaded guilty to US drug charges, offered detailed accounts of the Sinaloa Cartel’s inner workings and Guzmán ’s purported role as boss, describing his lavish lifestyle and penchant for murdering his enemies.

In a series of notes last week, the jury had sought answers to legal questions and asked to review days of testimony from several of the co-operators. – Reuters