A LIFE-LONG PRISON SEN­TENCE...

Midweek Sport - - NEWS -

One man asked to be ex­cused from serv­ing be­cause he was a Michael Jack­son im­per­son­ator – and feared be­ing iden­ti­fied – while an­other had a panic at­tack.

The trial fea­tured tes­ti­mony from more than 50 wit­nesses and of­fered the pub­lic a un­qiue look at the in­ner work­ings of his car­tel.

His smug­gling ex­ploits, vi­o­lence and sheer size of his busi­ness made him the world’s most ruth­less drug baron since Colom­bia’s Pablo Es­co­bar.

More than a dozen for­mer as­so­ci­ates struck deals to rat on their for­mer boss.

Ju­rors heard how the Si­naloa car­tel gained power amid the shift­ing al­le­giances of the Mex­i­can drug trade in the Nineties.

Even­tu­ally, it con­trolled al­most the en­tire Pa­cific coast of Mex­ico.

Ju­rors heard how El Chapo made a name for him­self in the Eight­ies as “El Rapido” – the speedy one – by build­ing cross-bor­der tun­nels.

It al­lowed him to move co­caine from Mex­ico into the US faster than any­one else and would go on to help with his es­cape decades later.

Wit­nesses in­cluded top lieu­tenants, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions engi­neer and even a one-time mis­tress, who said she once fled down a tun­nel with the naked gang­ster.

El Chapo was said to have built the Si­naloa car­tel into a so­phis­ti­cated or­gan­i­sa­tion that was rem­i­nis­cent of a multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tion.

He had fleets of planes and boats on standby, and also kept his own pri­vate zoo.

De­spite Forbes mark­ing him at num­ber 701 on its 2009 rich list with his £775mil­lion for­tune, in 2017 the US Jus­tice De­part­ment sought penal­ties of more than £11bil­lion in drug pro­ceeds and il­licit prof­its from El Chapo.

His trial also heard of the hor­rific vi­o­lence he meted out to ri­vals.

One for­mer body­guard THE END: El Chapo dur­ing his ar­rest and vic­tims of his deadly car­tel tes­ti­fied that he watched El Chapo, who owned a hand­gun with his di­a­mond-en­crusted ini­tials on the han­dle, kill three ri­val car­tel mem­bers.

He is also al­leged to have shot one vic­tim and or­dered him to be buried alive.

Wit­ness Je­sus Zam­bada said the de­fen­dant once bragged that the great­est plea­sure he ever ex­pe­ri­enced was hav­ing a long-time en­emy slaugh­tered.

He was re­ported to have made the re­mark after the mur­der of ri­val gang leader Ra­mon Arel­lano Felix in 2002.

The trial also fea­tured ex­ten­sive tes­ti­mony about cor­rup­tion in Mex­ico, with claims that for­mer pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto took a £75mil­lion bribe.

A spokesman for Mr Ni­eto has de­nied the claim.

The same day El Chapo told the judge he would not tes­tify in his own de­fence, he grinned to­wards the gallery at Ale­jan­dro Edda, the Mex­i­can ac­tor who plays him in the Net­flix drama Nar­cos.

El Chapo’s lawyers claimed he was set up as a fall guy by the real cul­prit, Is­mael El Mayo Zam­bada, a pow­er­ful drug lord from Si­naloa who re­mains at large.

But after six days of de­lib­er­a­tion, ju­rors found him guilty on all of the ten counts he was fac­ing.

He will al­most cer­tainly be sent to ADX Florence, the one­and-only lock-up de­signed to cage the high­est-risk prison­ers in the fed­eral pe­nal sys­tem, lo­cated in Florence, Colorado.

Widely known as Su­per­max, or Al­ca­traz of the Rock­ies, it was opened in 1994 and holds 400-plus in­mates in­side spe­cially de­signed con­trol units that func­tion as pris­ons within pris­ons.

Among its most in­fa­mous res­i­dents are Ramzi Yousef, mas­ter­mind of the 1993 bomb­ing of the World Trade Cen­ter in New York, con­victed Bos­ton Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsar­naev, air­line shoe bomber Richard Reid and Un­abomber Ted Kaczyn­ski.

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