El Chapo convicted on all counts
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.
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.