Published: Wed, February 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' found guilty in US

Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' found guilty in US

The verdict in federal court in Brooklyn came on the sixth day of jury deliberations. He faces life in prison.

"It is a sentence from which there is no escape and no return", Donoghue told a news conference outside the courthouse, through snow and sleet. About 150,000 of those deaths were tied to organized crime.

The global notoriety of Guzman was boosted by two escapes from Mexican custody, one in 2001 and another one in 2015 - through a 1.5km underground tunnel large enough to ride a motorcycle.

Guzman sat and showed no emotion while the verdict was read. When the jury was discharged, he leaned back in his chair to catch the eye of his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, who gave him a subtle thumbs-up. His wife shed tears.

Guzman broke out of Mexican prisons twice - once using a mile-long secret tunnel - before he was recaptured and extradited to the United States in 2017. Unlike other people in a similar position, Guzman would not plead guilty and went for a public trial after being extradited to the US.

The 11-week trial, with testimony from more than 50 witnesses, offered an unprecedented look at the inner workings of the Sinaloa Cartel, named for the state in northwestern Mexico where Guzman was born in a poor mountain village.

Guzman and his drug cartel reportedly made billions in profits by smuggling tons of cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana into the U.S. It was an operation that dated back to the 1980s. 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.

A jury whose members' identities were kept secret as a security measure reached a verdict after deliberating six days in the expansive case.

Lichtman said the defense "fought like complete savages" and will appeal the case.

Mexico has been mired for 12 years in a deadly military-led war against drug gangs.

The prosecution's case against Guzman, a roughly 5½-foot figure whose nickname translates to "Shorty", included the testimony of several turncoats and other witnesses.

A NY jury reached a guilty verdict today in the El Chapo trial.

El Chapo New York
Mark Lennihan AP Shutterstock

A former bodyguard testified that he watched Guzman kill three rival drug cartel members, including one victim who he shot and then ordered to be buried even as he was still gasping for air.

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan lauded the jury's meticulous attention to detail and the "remarkable" approach it took toward deliberations.

Estimates of how much money Guzman made from drugs vary.

Guzmán, once listed on Forbes' Billionaires List, has always been a slippery and near-mythical figure.

The 11-week trial caused a sensation, with police closing the Brooklyn Bridge to ferry Guzman to the courthouse, jurors remaining anonymous to protect their safety, and the proceedings exposing endemic corruption at nearly every level of the Mexican government - including testimony that former President Enrique Pena Nieto took bribes from Guzman totaling $100 million and the top security official for the country's current president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's campaign accepted multimillion-dollar bribes from the cartel in a failed 2006 presidential bid. A spokesman for the ex-president has denied the claim.

In contrast, defense attorneys called just one witness and focused on undermining the credibility of cooperating witnesses.

This came after his second, short-lived escape from prison.

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.

But the Mexican government says he blew his cover through a series of slip ups, including an attempt to make a movie about his life.

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

Together, they are the biggest producers of drugs sold on USA streets.

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