Mexico's 'El Chapo,' notorious cartel boss, convicted in USA trial

Clay Curtis
February 12, 2019

Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was found guilty on all 10 counts Tuesday after a high-profile trial that lasted almost three months.

The jury found Chapo guilty of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds, global distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other drugs and use of firearms.

In this courtroom drawing, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, centre, sits at the defence table while listening to the judge addressing the jury during his long-running drug trafficking trial in NY.

The trial testimony lasted almost three months and the jurors have been tasked with deciding on 10 separate counts.

NY jurors, whose identities were kept secret, deliberated for six days, sorting through piles of evidence gathered since the 1980s that Guzman's drug cartel smuggled tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into the US. Guzman smiled and waved, and she touched her hand to her chest.

In a statement after the verdict, lawyers for El Chapo said they were "obviously disappointed" but respectful of the jury's decision.

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Yet, jurors reportedly had an "avalanche" of evidence to work with before reaching their verdict. "We were faced with extraordinary and unprecedented obstacles in defending Joaquin, including his detention in solitary confinement", the statement said, Reuters reported.

In closing arguments, defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman urged the jury not to believe government witnesses who "lie, steal, cheat, deal drugs and kill people".

The prosecution's case against Guzman, a roughly 5½-foot figure whose nickname translates to "Shorty", included the testimony of several turncoats and other witnesses.

Lichtman contended that Guzman was merely a "scapegoat", and that the real culprit in the drug trafficking operations was Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, the co-founder of the Sinaloa cartel.

They heard how Guzman made a name for himself in the 1980s as "El Rapido", the speedy one, by building cross-border tunnels that allowed him to move cocaine from Mexico into the United States faster than anyone else.

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