Things That Matter

El Chapo’s “Trial Of The Century” Started Last Month And Here’s Everything You Should Know About It

Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s greatest fear became true in January 2017, when he was extradited to the United States. For years, the kingpin had escaped US courts by staying in his native Mexico and staging two spectacular escapes from prison. However, and perhaps due to a Twitter war where he threatened incoming US president Donald Trump, the Mexican authorities expedited his extradition. He has been locked in a maximum security prison in New York since then.

His long-awaited trial started on November 5 and all signs point to a very long and very complicated judicial processes. Thousands of files and pieces of evidence will be presented by the defense and the prosecutors, and chances are the jury will feel overwhelmed by all the information. The trial will highlight the contradictory public persona that El Chapo has in Mexico and the US: some see him as a ruthless criminal while others, particularly in his native state of Sinaloa, see him as a righteous messiah who is providing for his people what the Mexican State hasn’t.

Here’s 21 facts about the trial and what has happened so far.

1. His wife Emma Coronel Aspurio has been documenting the trial on Instagram

Credit: Instagram. @emmacoronela

If you want a behind-the-scenes look at the trial you can follow Emma’s Insta account, were she narrates her life in Brooklyn while her husband’s fate is determined. She constantly declares her eternal love for the capo.

2. El Chapo is defended by lawyers Jeffrey Lichtman, Eduardo Balarezo and William Púrpura 

Credit: 1541443777-0001al30i. Digital image. T13.

The experiences litigators will try to convince the jury that El Chapo is not as bad as the popular myth, the authorities and the media has made everyone believe. This will be a hard task given the trail of chaos that the Sinaloan has left in his wake.

3. According to the prosecutor El Chapo has smuggled 154,626 kilos of cocaine to the US

Credit: close-up-of-cocaine-with-rolled-up-paper-currency-and-credit-card-on-black-background-649117683-59a8771022fa3a001154df84. Digital image. Verywellmind

El Chapo started dealing with Mary Jane in his early days in the Guadalajara Cartel, but soon struck a deal with Colombian producers and started smuggling cocaine, following on the criminal legacy of Pablo Escobar.

4. The prosecution has provided 300,000 pages of documents and at least 117,000 audio recordings

Credit: dokumenti. Digital image. Univerza v.

Our head hurts just thinking about going through all that material. One of the prosecutor’s strategies is to overwhelm the jury and dump a mountain of evidence that just by its sheer volume would be hard to doubt.

5. The defense claims that the real leader of the Sinaloa Cartel is Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada

Credit: mayo_redis. Digital image. El Universal.

According to the defense, Chapo is just second in command and the criminal organization is really run by his compadre, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, who has never been caught by the authorities.

6. Key witness identities are a secret

Credit: download. Digital image. Stamp Lab.

Every day could bring a surprise, as the identities of the key witnesses and informants has been kept secret, and not even El Chapo’s legal team knows what to expect.

7. Prior to his trial, Chapo spent 23 hours a day alone in his cell

Credit: El Chapo. Netflix/Univision

Perhaps due to his past history of extravagant escapes, El Chapo has spent almost two years in complete isolation. He can only be visited by his twin 7-year-old daughters and by his lawyers. Not even his wife Emma can talk to him.

8. But he did blow a kiss to his wife in court

Credit: 636777488995708939w. Digital image. El Diario NY.

According to accounts and sketch art, El Chapo blew a kiss to his wife as soon as he lay eyes on her in court. Kinda romantic and tragic.

9. The trial will cost more than $50 million USD

Credit: EST14480006b4c8047_0. Digital image. El Diario de Juarez.

According to his lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman, El Chapo’s trial will be the most expensive in the history of legal procedures in the United States.

Read: 21 Things You Didn’t Know About El Chapo

10. Jeffrey Lichtman has also defended the Italian mafia

Credit: AENSHQ3D4L74ULIGEOG6BQ5U2Y. Digital image. NY Daily News

Lichtman is an experienced litigator who was able to somewhat successfully defend Italian mafia mogul John Gotti Jr (a kind of real life badass Tony Soprano).

11. The jury is made up by 7 women and 5 men

Credit: thejuryroom2 (1). Digital image. Pure BS Podcast.

The identities of these 12 US citizens is of course a secret. It will be an experience to remember, that’s for sure.

12. 3 juries speak Spanish, at least 3 are immigrants

Credit: post-132451-0-74369300-1358690215, Digital image. Cinemas93.org

The powers that be wanted diversity in the jury, and we know that some of them are Spanish speakers, a key characteristic as most of the witness accounts will be likely provided in Spanish.

13. A jury member was dismissed because he wanted to get Chapo’s autograph

Credit: El Chapo. Netflix/Univision

A jury member from Colombia stressed the fact that he was a bit of a fan of the drug lord, so he was obviously dismissed because there was no way he could be 100% impartial.

14. Chapo is accused of 11 criminal charges

Credit: drug_trafficking. Digital image. The Right Step.

These charges are related to drug trafficking, money laundering and the illegal use of weapons. Some of these charges are likely to be dropped as the trial progresses.

15. El Chapo’s defense has accused two former Mexican presidents of accepting bribes

Credit: 2E3C07F8-7A92-400A-8F9B-579078817BDF. Digital image. iVital.

Yes, this trial has stirred the dark waters of corruption in Mexico. The defense has accused former president Felipe Calderón and current president (he finishes on December 1st) Enrique Peña Nieto of being paid off by the almighty Sinaloa Cartel.

16. And they have obviously denied the accusations

Credit: Twitter. @FelipeCalderon

Enrique Peña Nieto’s office vehemently denied the accusations, while the ex president Felipe Calderón wrote in his Twitter account: “The accusations made by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s lawyer are totally false and bold. Not him, not the Sinaloa Cartel, no one paid me off”.

17. And he has also accused the DEA!

Credit: download. Digital image. Washington Examiner.

Chapo’s lawyer argues that Zambada is the real mastermind of the Sinaloa Cartel and that he has paid off the Mexican Army, federal policy and even the Drug Enforcement Agency from the United States. Big claim!

18. “Mayo” Zambada’s brother, Jesús Zambada, has been a key witness

Credit: 1941240-N. Digital image. La Cronica.

Already held in captivity by US authorities, Jesús Zambada a.k.a. El Rey, has been a key witness as he knows how the cartel operates inside and out.

19. And he has implicated numerous government officials

Credit: chapo-juicio-jesus-zambada-ap. Digital image. Noticieros Televisa.

When Zambada opened his mouth the political establishment in Mexico shook. He has described how bags full of cash were supposedly handed over to officials at all levels of government. He has provided a detailed list and of course everyone was quick to deny the accusations. A pretty The Godfather moment.

20. A key witness, Héctor Beltrán Leyva, died of a heart attack in Mexico

Credit: hector_beltran_leyva. Digital image. El Sol de Mexico.

El Chapo’s lawyer says that the fatal cardiac arrest was triggered by the possibility of being extradited to the United States and being a witness in the trial. He died while being transferred to another prison. His death has been the source of multiple conspiracy theories. The plot thickens!

21. Sit comfortably… the trial could last up to 4 or 5 months

Credit: NWJlYmE4ZjM2. Digital image. Nacion321

A lot of new witnesses and a mounting amount of evidence will be put in front of the jury before the trial of the century finishes. We will keep you posted.

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Deaf Students At A Catholic School In Argentina Are Telling Their Story Of Abuse And Neglect By Priests

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Deaf Students At A Catholic School In Argentina Are Telling Their Story Of Abuse And Neglect By Priests

Jon Tyson / Flickr

Justice may soon be on the horizon for as many as 20 victims who say they were sexually abused, including cases of rape, between 2004 and 2016. Priests Nicola Corradi, 83, Horacio Corbacho, 59 and a former gardener Armando Gomez, 49, are all facing charges of sexually abusing deaf children in their care. The shocking case has sent shock waves through Argentina’s society and the Catholic church. The terrible acts occurred at the Provolo Institute in Mendoza, a Catholic school for deaf children that was founded in 1995 and in which Corradi headed until his arrest in November 2016.

People in Argentina are looking for answers and are asking how this horrendous crime could have happened?

Credit: @revistasemana / Twitter

The two priests and gardener appeared in court Monday to face their long-awaited charges of sexual abuse. The three men face prison sentences of up to 20 years in some cases, up to 50 years in others. The trial, which is expected to last two months, will hear testimony from 13 victims who suffered negligence and abuse between the ages of four and 17, relating to 43 offenses.

News of the abuse at the school broke at the end of 2016 and created a huge scandal. The scandal grew when it became clear that Rev. Corradi was behind the charges. It has been reported that Corradi was accused of similar allegations at the Antonio Próvolo institute in Verona, Italy. Pope Francis, an Argentine, has since been notified that Corradi was behind both allegations but has yet to comment publicly despite on the matter despite his close affiliation. 

There has already been one sentencing in wake of the scandal. Jorge Bordón, an institute employee, was sentenced to 10 years in prison last year on charges of rape, sexual touching, and corrupting minors.

One of the victims has spoken up about his emotions going into the trial and his search for justice. 

Credit: @news1130 / Twitter

Ezequiel Villalonga,18, is one of the victims of the pedophile priests, says that he was preyed upon at the school as a minor. Villalonga is deaf which makes the case even more heartbreaking. Now, he’s getting the chance to tell his story as the trial goes to court.

“I think that everything in the Church is fake. Everything they made us read, recite, the way (they said) people should live,” Villalonga told the AP in sign language right before the start of the priests’ trial on Monday. “I think they lie and that they’re demonic.”

Villalonga was sent to the school when he was 4 years old after his mother found out her son was deaf when he was only seven months old. For many of those years at Provo, he was only allowed to go home on weekends and spent the majority of his days there inside a massive building with little to no contact. Despite the school’s specialized mission in helping deaf children, he didn’t teach him how to speak during his time there. It was until he was an adult he learned sign language. 

“Life there was terrible. We didn’t learn anything, we couldn’t speak to each other because we didn’t know sign language,” he said. “We would write without knowing what it said, and when we asked other classmates, no one understood anything.”

Things haven’t been easier for his mom, Natalia, who says her family has had to pause their lives due to the case and the horrors that have happened to her son. 

“I am super-nervous, anxious and I hope for justice; that this ends soon so my son can move on to a new stage because this is very hard,” said Natalia Villalonga told the Washington Post.

While the trial is just getting started, the trauma and disbelief for many of the young victims have gone on for too long.

Credit: @Crux / Twitter

Paola Gonzalez’s daughter, Milagros, who is now 16 years old, had been one of those 20 abused while attending the Institute. Gonzalez was shocked and angry when she found out what had happened to her daughter at what she considered at one point, a prestigious institution. 

“You should have seen her little body when she went into (the Provolo). She was so small,” Gonzalez told the AP. “I don’t understand, I can’t imagine such evil. How could they do so much harm to such a fragile creature?” 

READ: A Brazilian Gang Leader Thought He Could Use A ‘Scooby-Doo’ Tactic To Escape Prison

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Teenage Inmate Pedro Hernandez Is A Free Man After A Year Of Maintaining His Innocence His Case Was Thrown Out Amidst Allegations Of Corruption By Police

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Teenage Inmate Pedro Hernandez Is A Free Man After A Year Of Maintaining His Innocence His Case Was Thrown Out Amidst Allegations Of Corruption By Police

WPIX 11

Credit: WPIX11

After spending a year in prison, 17 year-old Pedro Hernandez of the Bronx, has been set free. Hernandez was arrested for the shooting of another teenager back in 2015. When he went to trial, instead of taking a plea bargain that would have set him free and allowed him to take advantage of a college scholarship, he maintained his innocence. His bail was set to $250,000 and his trial date pushed back beyond the date he needed to be a free man in order to accept the scholarship, in essence, losing it. Although things looked bleak for him, Hernandez, found a way to become a leader while incarcerated at Rikers Island, mentoring others and completing his studies.

Things changed when his family hired private investigator Manuel Gomez, who uncovered corruption by the arresting officer, who once gambled with dice for one young man’s freedom. Gomez says there are up to 49 other cases tried by the same prosecutor and police officer where corruption has played a role. At one point, a crowdfunding page was set up to help pay for Hernandez’s bail. After hearing the case, a judge dropped his bail to $100,000, at which point the Robert F. Kennedy human rights organization stepped in to post bail. As of this week, the case was dismissed in court. Hernandez is set to return for another robbery charge in the coming weeks. Those charges are also expected to be dismissed.

[H/T] WPIX11

READ: This Bronx Student Won A Full Scholarship To College But Can’t Use It Because He’s In Jail Trying To Prove His Innocence

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