The ‘El Chapo’ crime em­pire used Cana­dian servers, prose­cu­tors say

Ev­i­dence heard in court in­cludes drug king­pin’s ri­val mak­ing fun of Black­berry

StarMetro Vancouver - - CANADA & WORLD - Peter Ed­wards

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.

voice iden­ti­fi­able.

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

with au­thor­i­ties.

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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