The ‘El Chapo’ crime empire used Canadian servers, prosecutors say
Evidence heard in court includes drug kingpin’s rival making fun of Blackberry
A secret Canadian-based communications platform allowed reputed cocaine kingpin Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman to control hit men, organize global drug trafficking and direct corrupt cops, according to evidence in an ongoing Brooklyn trial.
It was only after Colombian Cristian Rodriguez, Guzman’s in-house computer geek, moved four servers out of Canada that American authorities were able to tap into the encrypted messaging system at the heart of his billiondollar empire, prosecutors argued at trial this week.
Rodriguez is a co-operating witness for the prosecution.
Guzman faces life in prison on conspiracy charges, as prosecutors contend he used the Canadian-based system to run an empire that trafficked narcotics and weapons and played a central role in Mexican drug wars that have left thousands dead.
Guzman has pleaded not guilty to charges of international drug trafficking and conspiracy to murder rivals.
The trial has not heard where in Canada the four servers were located.
“These guys have resources — both human and economic — to implement advanced networks,” said Torontobased journalist Luis Horacio Najera, who covered organized crime on the Mexicanu.s. border in the early 2000s, before he was forced to seek asylum in Canada over cartel death threats. “They also have a new mindset that understands and know how to use technology for criminal purposes, which is remarkable.”
The Star has examined some of the evidence from the ongoing case.
According to the evidence presented by prosecutors, Rodriguez developed the Canadian-based platform for Guzman, trained associates in how to maintain the systems and helped upgrade and repair them from a remote location.
Rodriguez, working for investigators, persuaded Guzman to allow him to move the network’s four secret servers from Canada to the Netherlands in 2011, as it was believed it would be easier there to get a warrant to seize the phone calls as evidence.
Rodriguez told Guzman he was doing a routine upgrade, prosecutors said.
It was after the switch that authorities were able to tap into Guzman’s encrypted messages.
Guzman was extradited to the United States in 2017. Agents recorded his phone calls from Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center and said they were able to identify traits that made his Reputed Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman, is on trial in U.S. federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., facing life in prison on conspiracy charges. Prosecutors’ evidence heard in the court has turned up an interesting Canadian connection.
Authorities got their big break after luring Rodriguez to a Manhattan hotel in 2010, where he was secretly recorded trying to buy equipment that would allow him to evade law enforcement detection.
That conversation was used as leverage to eventually persuade Rodriguez to co-operate
Guzman’s trial in Brooklyn has heard several of the calls this week.
The trial has also heard that Guzman used encrypted Canadian-made Blackberries to spy on his beauty queen wife, Emma Coronel, and a lover, Agustina Cabanillas Acosta.
However, in a text to a
friend also released in court, Cabanillas calls Guzman an “idiot” and disses his Canadian-made cellular phones.
“I don’t trust these Blackberries, the ones he gives me over here, because the bastard can locate me.”
With files from The Associated Press
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