Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Jury reaches verdict in El Chapo trial

In this courtroom drawing Joaquin “El Chapo” Found Guilty On 10 Counts In New York Trial
Melinda Barton | 12 February, 2019, 21:53

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, once the most powerful drug lord in the world, was convicted in New York City on all counts on February 11.

Jurors in federal court in Brooklyn found Guzman, 61, guilty on all 10 counts.

He faces up to life in prison, and his sentencing date is June 25.

The cartel leader escaped prison twice in Mexico before being sent to the United States to stand trial. When the jury was discharged, he leaned back in his chair to catch the eye of his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, who gave him a subtle thumbs-up.

A defense lawyer says Guzman's conviction is "devastating".

During the trial, more than 50 witnesses testified to the Sinaloa cartel leader's willingness to use violence against enemies of a cartel that prosecutors say smuggled at least 200 tons of cocaine into the US for more than two decades. On its fifth day of deliberations, the jury asked to review law enforcement testimony about seizures of Colombian cocaine being shipped to the Sinaloa cartel to fuel a smuggling empire prosecutors say was under Guzman's command.

Witnesses detailed assassinations and political payoffs, and how drugs were smuggled using tanker trucks, railway carriages and even shipments of canned peppers.

Jurors agreed with prosecutors that he amassed huge wealth and power leading 'the world's largest and most prolific drug trafficking organization.' They heard blood-curdling evidence about how El Chapo once beat and shot a worker who defected to a rival cartelk, before burying him alive.

The jury of eight women and four men deliberated roughly 34 hours over 6 days.

The most detailed evidence against Guzman came from more than a dozen former associates who struck deals to cooperate with US prosecutors. Fourteen of those witnesses - mostly admitted drug traffickers and cartel associates - were cooperating with prosecutors in hopes of reducing their own prison sentences. Many described Guzman's willingness to use violence against enemies of a cartel that prosecutors say smuggled at least 200 tons (181 metric tons) of cocaine into the USA over two decades.