New York Daily News
El Chapo’s likely ours – if he’s extradited
IT APPEARS the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office has won the El Chapo sweepstakes.
The Justice Department is completing the paperwork on which of the seven federal prosecutorial offices in the United States where Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman has been indicted will get first crack at the Mexican drug kingpin if he is extradited from Mexico, sources said.
The decision could be announced as soon as this week by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, sources said.
Lynch was formerly the U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York, where Guzman is charged with 12 murder conspiracies, drug trafficking and money laundering on an epic scale, sources said.
Federal prosecutors in Miami and the Department of Justice’s Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Section also lobbied for Guzman to be tried in Brooklyn.
A Department of Justice spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Federal law enforcement officials have been working out legal issues because Guzman could potentially face the death penalty in the U.S., which would be dealbreaker for Mexican government. Mexico does not execute convicted criminals and would not be likely to send him abroad if capital punishment was on the table, sources said.
Guzman, who has become infamous for his Houdini-like escapes from Mexican prisons, was recaptured in January and is obviously opposed to being extradited to the U.S., where he would be removed from his base of power.
But veteran defense lawyer Susan Kellman said Guzman will not find a fairer jury pool anywhere in the world than Brooklyn, U.S.A.
“In this district there are people of all colors, there are people with money and people with no money,” Kellman told the Dailyy News. “You won’t find a more di- verse jury pool.”
Guzman’s international renown may also work in his favor, Kellman noted, because jurors are fascinated by antiheroes like the late Gambino mob boss John Gotti, who became known as the “Teflon Don” for a couple of acquittals, and football star O.J. Simpson, who beat a double-murder rap.
“When defendants become e legends, it makes it harder for thee government to prosecute them, , not easier,” she said.
Guzman would be held in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, a maximum-security jail. With his assets frozen by the government, he could be eligi- ble for a court-appointed attor- ney.
The only visitors Guzman would be allowed at the federal lockup in Brooklyn, where he likely would be held in solitary confinement because of his prior jail breaks, would be his lawyer r and family members closely vet- ted by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.