El Chapo con­victed on all counts

The Tribune (SLO) - - News/obituaries - BY ALAN FEUER

NEW YORK

The Mex­i­can crime lord known as El Chapo was con­victed Tues­day af­ter a three-month drug trial in New York City that ex­posed the in­ner work­ings of his sprawl­ing car­tel, which over decades shipped tons of drugs into the United States and plagued Mex­ico with re­lent­less blood­shed and cor­rup­tion.

The guilty ver­dict against the king­pin, whose real name is Joaquín Guzmán Lo­era, ended the ca­reer of a leg­endary out­law who also served as a dark folk hero in Mex­ico, no­to­ri­ous for his in­no­va­tive smug­gling tac- tics, his vi­o­lence against com­peti­tors, his sto­ried prison breaks and his nearly un­stop­pable abil­ity to evade the Mex­i­can au­thor­i­ties.

As Judge Brian Co­gan read the jury’s charge sheet in open court – 10 straight guilty ver­dicts on all 10 counts of the in­dict­ment – Guzmán sat lis­ten­ing to a trans­la­tor, look­ing stunned. When the read­ing of the ver­dict was com­plete, Guzmán leaned back to glance at his wife, Emma Coronel Ais­puro, who flashed him a thumbs up with tears in her eyes.

The jury’s de­ci­sion came more than a week af­ter the panel started de­lib­er­a­tions at the trial in U.S. Dis­trict Court in Brook­lyn where pros­e­cu­tors pre­sented a moun­tain of ev­i­dence against the car­tel leader, in­clud­ing tes­ti­mony from 56 wit­nesses, 14 of whom once worked with Guzmán. Guzmán now faces life in prison at his sen­tenc­ing hear­ing, sched­uled for June 25.

Speak­ing to re­porters out­side the court­house, Richard P. Donoghue, the U.S. at­tor­ney for the Eastern Dis­trict of New York, called the guilty ver­dict a vic­tory for law en­force­ment, for Mex­ico – where 100,000 peo­ple had died be­cause of drug vi­o­lence – and for fam­i­lies who had lost some­one to the “black hole of ad­dic­tion.”

In their own news con­fer­ence, Guzmán’s lawyers promised an ap­peal, say­ing they would fo­cus on the ex­tra­di­tion process that brought the king­pin to New York City for trial and on the prose­cu­tion’s ef­forts to re­strict their cross-ex­am­i­na­tions of wit­nesses. They said that Guzmán had ex­pected the guilty ver­dict and was pre­pared for it.

Not long af­ter the jury got the case Feb. 4, Matthew Whi­taker, the act­ing U.S. at­tor­ney gen­eral, stepped into the court­room and shook hands with each of the trial pros­e­cu­tors, wish­ing them good luck. Over the next sev­eral days, the ju­rors, ap­pear­ing to scru­ti­nize the govern­ment’s ev­i­dence, asked to be given thou­sands of pages of tes­ti­mony, in­clud­ing – in an un­usual move – the full tes­ti­monies of six dif­fer­ent prose­cu­tion wit­nesses.

Guzmán’s trial was the first time an Amer­i­can jury heard de­tails about the fi­nanc­ing, lo­gis­tics and bloody his­tory of one of the drug car­tels that have long pumped huge amounts of heroin, co­caine, mar­i­juana and syn­thetic drugs like fen­tanyl into the United States, earn­ing traf­fick­ers bil­lions of dol­lars.

Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion

Au­thor­i­ties es­cort Joaquin “El Chapo” Guz­man from a plane to a wait­ing car­a­van of SUVs at Long Is­land MacArthur Air­port in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., in 2017. The no­to­ri­ous Mex­i­can drug lord was con­victed of drug-traf­fick­ing charges Tues­day in fed­eral court in New York.

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