Published: Wed, February 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

'El Chapo' Drug Kingpin Found GUILTY on All Charges by Brooklyn Jury

'El Chapo' Drug Kingpin Found GUILTY on All Charges by Brooklyn Jury

Mexico's most notorious drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, was convicted Tuesday of running an industrial-scale smuggling operation after a three-month trial packed with Hollywood-style tales of grisly killings, political payoffs, cocaine hidden in jalapeno cans, jewel-encrusted guns and a naked escape with his mistress through a tunnel.

Accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is seen with a handgun on display during a testimony by Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent Victor Vazquez (not shown) in this courtroom sketch in Brooklyn federal court in New York City on January 17, 2019.

Guzman faced a drumbeat of drug-trafficking and conspiracy convictions that could put the 61-year-old escape artist behind bars for decades in a maximum-security USA prison selected to thwart another one of the breakouts that embarrassed his native country.

He was extradited to the United States in 2017 after being arrested in Mexico the previous year. Once the jury left the room, he and his wife Emma Coronel, put their hands to their hearts and gave each other the thumbs up sign. The notorious cartel boss, born Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, has been on trial in NY, which featured testimony from multiple witnesses.

During the trial, more than 50 witnesses testified to the Sinaloa cartel leader's willingness to use violence against enemies of a cartel that prosecutors say smuggled at least 200 tons of cocaine into the USA for more than two decades. He did not try to deny his crimes, but instead had his lawyers argue he was merely a fall guy for corrupt government officials guilty of far worse wrongdoing that him.

They were escorted to and from the fortress-like Brooklyn courthouse by US Marshals during each day of the 35 day trial, which saw 56 prosecution witnesses called to testify against El Chapo. "We were faced with extraordinary and unprecedented obstacles in defending Joaquin, including his detention in solitary confinement", the statement said.

The most detailed evidence against Guzman came from more than a dozen former associates who struck deals to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors.

The 61-year-old was a key player in the Mexican drug cartel landscape.

Another testified how Guzman sometimes acted as his own hitman, punishing a Sinaloan who dared to work for another cartel by kidnapping him, beating and shooting him and having his men bury the victim while he was still alive. In 2009, Forbes Magazine put him on its list of the world's richest people, with an estimated $1 billion. Colombian trafficker Alex Cifuentes caused a stir by testifying that former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto took a $100 million bribe from Guzman.

The drug boss escaped from prison twice - once in 2001 by hiding in a laundry bin, and again in 2014 when he escaped through tunnels on a specially adapted small motorcycle.

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